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Type of Stem

1. simple (rootor combining form) world-wide

2. derived touchy-feely, mock-heroically, chair-warmer

3. compoundmicroprocessor-based, highwaywoman

4. compound-derived absentmindedness

5. abbreviated B-ball (basketball), odd-bod (body), lip-sync (synchronize)

6. reduplicating flip-flop, dilly-dally, teeny-weeny


Combining Form(or semi-affix) is a free morpheme(stem) with derivational affix properties acquired through great combining capacity and frequent use.

E.g., phobia n. a persistent, abnormal, or irrational fear of a specific thing or situation. Pete has a phobia on the subject. (Franics. Dead…) I hope mademoiselle does not have claustrophobia. (Sheldon. If…)

bibliophobia fear of books

bathophobia fear of depth

chronophobia fear of time

gamophobia fear of marriage

musicophobia fear of music

rhytiphobia fear of getting wrinkles

telephonophobia fear of using the telephone

verbaphobia fear of words

politicophobia fear of, aversion to politicians

zoophobia fear of animals

man n. a human being, person

Any man could do that.

Businessman, chairman, fireman, policeman, salesman, bottle-man, gunman

happy adj. having a feeling of or showing pleasure and joy; enjoying

-happy somewhat insane over or excessively wrought upon what is

indicated: car-happy, power-happy, slap-happy, trigger-happy

proof adj. fully resistant; impervious

Our security is what you call proof from fools. (Sheldon. If…)

bulletproof resistant to bullets

fireproof that will not burn

foolproof so safe and simple that even a fool can use or do it

kissproof (of lipstick) resistive to kisses

pityproof unaffected by pity

waterproof protected against water

mini distinctly smaller that others of its class

You see him zipping by in the family mini. (Barnhart)

Miniskirt, minibus, minibike, minicomputer, miniseries, ministate, minivan


Coordinative compoundis a compound whose components are structurally and semantically independent and constitute two structural and semanticcenters.

E.g., actor-manager n. hit-run adj.

willy-nilly adj. walkie-talkie n.

bittersweet adj.

Subordinativecompoundis a compound whose components are neither structurally nor semantically equal in importance, and one of them dominates the other.

E.g., badlands, color-blind, evergreen, grandma, playgirl

Syntacticcompoundis a compound that conforms to grammatical patterns current in the language.

E.g., northwest, coverall, double-quick, headfirst, maybe, talked-of,

butter-and-eggs, for-free

Asyntacticcompoundis a compound that does not conform to grammatical patterns current in the language.


E.g., double-speak n. second-guess v.

least-worst adj. deep-most adj.

arm-twist v.


Endocentric compoundbelongs to the same lexico-grammaticalclass as one of its constituents.

E.g., germ-free adj. in-patient n.

she-wolf n. home-made adj.

between-brain n. spaceship n.

Exocentric compounddoes not belong to the same lexico-grammaticalclass as any of its constituents.

E.g., top-notch N + N = Adj

wall-flower Nnon-personal + Nnon-personal = Npersonal

also-ran Adv + V = N

killjoy V + Nnon-personal = Npersonal

eighty-six Numeral + Numeral = Verb


Idiomaticcompoundis a compound whose meaningis not deducible from the meaning of its components.

E.g., killjoy n. A morose pessimist

wallflower n. A person, especially a woman, who is uncourted at a dance, party

greenback n. A note of U.S currency

fifty-fifty adv. Being equally likely and unlikely

soft-pedal v. To make less emphatic or obvious

Non-idiomaticcompoundis a compound whose meaningis deducible from the meaning of its components.

E.g., mother-in-law, after-dinner, straightforward, day-long, germ-free

Bahuvrihiis a two-stemexocentricidiomaticcompoundnoun denoting a person or thing possessing a certain characteristic. The first component describes a quality possessed by the second.

E.g., lazybones, butterfingers, paperback, egghead, highbrow




Conversion is a combined morphological and syntactic(paradigmatic and syntagmatic) way of word-building, by which a new word is formed through the change of the paradigm and distribution of its prototype.

E.g., swim V→N

Fish swim.
We shall go swimming.  
The white clouds swam across the sky.
The heat and noise made my head swim.
He swims a couple of miles every morning.


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