The Process of Word Formation


 The Process of Word Formation

The Process of Word Formation

The Process of Word Formation

The Process of Word Formation

One of the major characteristics of human language is that it can form – more or less- new words for its purpose. But new words are formed according to some pattern and not arbitrarily. English is a language that has got a rich storehouse of new words formed for themselves out of old and familiar materials. There is some certain processes (ways) by which new words are formed and added to the vocabulary. These processes are (1) Compounding (2) Derivation, (3) Backformation, (4) Shortening (5) Conversion (6) Blending and (7) Authors’ Contribution. Let us discuss them as below:


The simplest way of forming new words is compounding. It is a process of making new words by joining together two existing words. Generally, in this process, different parts of speeches are combined together and a compound word with a meaning is made. Among the most common are formed as below:

(i) Noun with a noun, as: rail-road (rail +road), house-top, week-end, wood-shed etc.

(ii) Noun with adjective, as: coal-black, hot-house, air-tight, foot-sore etc.

(iii) Adjective with noun, as: black-berry, sweet-meat, big-shot etc.

(iv) Adverb with noun, as: up-shot, over-head, down-fall, after-thought, under-dog etc.

(v) Verb with adverb, as: dug-out, walk-over, tie-up, kick-up etc.

(vi) Verb with noun, as: cry-baby, play-boy, star-board etc.

(vii) Adjective with verb, as: over-throw, under-staff, set-off, by-pass etc.

(viii) Noun with adverb, as: hands off, head on, hind side etc.  


In this process, a new word is formed out of an old one by the addition of some prefixes or suffixes. In English, many words are formed by this process, as:

(i) By adding the prefixes like- mis, dis, re, en, fore etc.- we get such words as misdeed, mistake, miscarry, dismal, disturb, discover, forgive, forego, withdraw, withstand, revival, recover, resist, endear, enrage, encourage etc.

(ii) By using the suffixes like- dom, full, less, ness,  ish, tion etc.- we can form such words, as kingdom, wisdom, beautiful, handful, ripeness, business, contribution, estimation, formerly, finally etc. 


By this method, new words are formed by removing or subtracting affixes (prefixes and suffixes), such as- the verb ‘edit’ has been formed by backformation from the noun ‘editor’. Thus ‘peddle’ is the backformation of the noun ‘peddler’. In this way, we get a lot of new words as- ‘burgle’ from ‘burglar’, ‘diagnose’ from ‘diagnosis’, ‘rove’ from ‘rover’, ‘grovel’ from ‘grovelling’ ‘orate’ from ‘oration’.


It is a method of word- formation in which a new word is created by clipping suffixes. For example- ‘fridge’ from ‘refrigerator’, ‘pram’ from ‘perambulator’, ‘curio’ from ‘curiosity’, ‘photo’ for ‘photograph’, ‘wig’ for ‘periwig, ‘sport’ for ‘disport’ ‘spite’ for ‘despite’ etc. 


It is a process of word formation in which the word remains unchanged but the word is used in different parts of speech or in different grammatical functions. For example- the word ‘feature’ may be used as a noun, as a verb and as an adjective. The most common conversion is that of a noun into a verb as: bell, bridge, colour, ditch, ink, paper, stone etc. Words that can be used as nouns and verbs are as- sabotage, camouflage, enact etc.


In this process, the beginning of one word is added to the end of another and subtracted from what is between. For example ‘flaunt’ is a blend of ‘flout’ and ‘vaunt’. Likewise ‘slide’ is a blend of ‘slip’ and ‘guide’; swirl’ is a blend of ‘twist’ and ‘whirl’; ‘galumphing’ is a blend of ‘gallop’ and ‘triumphing’. Through this process, the vocabulary of English has immensely been enriched during the last hundred years or so.

Authors’ Contribution

Apart from the above-discussed processes, some authors since Geoffrey Chaucer to the present day, in their own right, have immensely contributed to the growth of the English word- stock. Chaucer was instrumental in introducing many important words which are still in vogue. Some of such words are: attention, duration, fraction, position and so on. During the early 16th century, Tyndale and Coverdale often created new English equivalents of original Greek and Hebrew while translating The Bible. From them, we have inherited the phrases like- loving kindness, morning star, kind-hearted and so on. Likewise, William Shakespeare has contributed a lot of felicitous and poetic phrases to the vocabulary of English. For example, we can quote such phrases, as- ‘cudgeling one’s brain’; ‘breathing one’s last’; ‘backing a horse’; catching a cold’ etc.

Thus by means of these processes discussed above many new words have been created till the present day. 0 0 0

The Process of Word Formation

N. B. This article entitled ‘The Process of Word Formation’ originally belongs to the book ‘Essays on Linguistics‘ by Menonim Menonimus. The Process of Word Formation

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Related Searches:

  1. 10 Characteristics of Human Language
  2. 10 Main Features of Human Language
  3. Characteristics of Language
  4. Word Formation Process
  5. Types of Word Formation Process


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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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