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Related to back-formation: Word formation


or back formation (băk′fôr-mā′shən)
1. A new word created by removing an affix from an already existing word, as vacuum clean from vacuum cleaner, or by removing what is mistakenly thought to be an affix, as bicep from the English plural biceps.
2. The process of forming words in this way.

back′-form′ (băk′fôrm′) v.
back′-formed′ (băk′fôrmd′) adj.


The formation of a word by assuming it must be the root of an existing word, for example the verb “babysit” derived from the noun “babysitter.”
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.back-formation - a word invented (usually unwittingly by subtracting an affix) on the assumption that a familiar word derives from it
word - a unit of language that native speakers can identify; "words are the blocks from which sentences are made"; "he hardly said ten words all morning"
References in periodicals archive ?
His name is explained by Bollee as a back-formation via Prakrit Pasa/Passa from the reduced form (U)pasva(sena) which links the tirthankara to a "mythical serpent prince" who is the son of the naga king Asvasena.
Under the heading of "Reanalysis," Adams discusses some affixes, back-formation, blending, and shortening.
Once kickshaws became part of our language, it was natural to treat it as a plural form and to coin kickshaw as the singular form--an example of a back-formation.