Word formation  

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In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning. The line between word formation and semantic change is sometimes a bit blurry; what one person views as a new use of an old word, another person might view as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form; see Conversion (linguistics). Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expressions, though sometimes words can form from multi-word phrases; see Compound (linguistics) and Incorporation (linguistics).

A similar concept is Derivation.

See also

The following articles describe various mechanisms of word formation:

  • Agglutination (the process of forming new words from existing ones by adding affixes to them, like shame + less + nessshamelessness)
  • Back-formation (removing seeming affixes from existing words, like forming edit from editor)
  • Blending (a word formed by joining parts of two or more older words, like smog, which comes from smoke and fog)
    • Acronym (a word formed from initial letters of the words in a phrase, like English laser from light amplified by stimulated emission of radiation)
    • Clipping (morphology) (taking part of an existing word, like forming ad from advertisement)
  • Calque (borrowing a word or phrase from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation; for example the English phrase to lose face, which is a calque from Chinese)
    • Semantic loan (the extension of the meaning of a word to include new, foreign meanings)
  • Compound (linguistics) (a word formed by stringing together older words, like earthquake)
  • Conversion (linguistics) (forming a new word from an existing identical one, like forming the verb green from the existing adjective)
  • Neologism (a completely new word, like quark)
    • Loanword (a word borrowed from another language, like cliché, from French)
    • Onomatopoeia (the creation of words that imitate natural sounds, like the bird name cuckoo)
    • Phono-semantic matching (matching a foreign word with a phonetically and semantically similar pre-existent native word/root)


  • Hadumod Bussmann (1996), Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics, London: Routledge.
  • Joachim Grzega (2004), Bezeichnungswandel: Wie, Warum, Wozu? Ein Beitrag zur englischen und allgemeinen Onomasiologie, Heidelberg: Winter.
  • Peter Koch (2002), “Lexical Typology from a Cognitive and Linguistic Point of View”, in D. Alan Cruse et al. (eds), Lexicology: An International Handbook on the Nature and Structure of Words and Vocabularies / Lexikologie: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Natur und Struktur von Wörtern und Wortschätzen, [Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 21], Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, vol. 1, pp. 1142-1178.
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. (Palgrave Studies in Language History and Language Change). ISBN 1-4039-1723-X.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Word formation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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