Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

  • Word of the Day
    carouse

    k@ raUz

    intransitive verb
    to revel in a boisterous and drunken manner.
    They’d been carousing in the bar and were now staggering home, still singing and shouting.

    see more
  • Vocabulary of the Day
    notify

    no tih faI

    transitive verb
    to give notice to; tell or inform, esp. formally.
    The contest judges notified the winners by mail.
    Who should we notify in case of an emergency?
    The landlord notified the tenants that the water would be shut off in the morning.

    see more
Apr
26
2013

back formation

Posted in Word of the Day by admin

baek for meI shen
noun
definition: in linguistics, a word that appears to be the base of, but was actually formed from, another word, as “trivia” from “trivial.”

Other examples of back formations

injure (from injury), liaise (from liaison), enthuse (from enthusiasm), euthanase or euthanize (from euthanasia), edit from editor

Explanation

As a kind of word formation in English, back formation is a bit like derivation in reverse.  The process of derivation adds a prefix or suffix to an existing word to form a new word. “National” is a derivation of  “nation” (nation + -al), “nationalism” is a derivation of “national” (national + -ism), and “international” is a derivation of … “national” (inter- + national). Back formation removes an affix, commonly a suffix, from an existing word (“-ia” from “euthanasia”) to form a word wrongly assumed to be the base of the first word: “euthanase” or “euthanize.”