Also found in: Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


An unstressed word, typically a function word, that is incapable of standing on its own and attaches in pronunciation to a stressed word, with which it forms a single accentual unit. Examples of clitics are the pronoun 'em in I see 'em and the definite article in French l'arme, "the arm."
Of or relating to a clitic or clisis.

[Greek klitikos, leaning, from klīnein, to lean; see klei- in Indo-European roots.]

clit′i·cize (-sĭz′) v.
clit′i·ci·za′tion (-sĭ-zā′shən) n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Linguistics) (of a word) incapable of being stressed, usually pronounced as if part of the word that follows or precedes it: for example, in French, me, te, and le are clitic pronouns. See also proclitic, enclitic
(Linguistics) a clitic word
[C20: back formation from enclitic and proclitic]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈklɪt ɪk)
adj., n.
enclitic or proclitic.
[1945–50; by extraction]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Milicevic, Maja (2009) On the status of clitic reflexives and reciprocals in Italian and Serbian.
This project is about a morphological process called "leismo," that consists of a shift from the Spanish accusative clitic (lo, la, los, las) to the Spanish dative clitic (le, les).
First, in contrast to the first question type, these questions make use of a resumptive clitic pronoun that we find in the base position where the wh-phrase may be said to have originated inside the clause.
Not all studies in the literature, however, have found advantages of PI compared to other instructional types; this is the case for Spanish direct object pronouns and the conditional (DeKeyser & Sokalski, 1996), Spanish direct object pronouns (Keating & Farley, 2008; Morgan-Short & Bowden, 2006; Salaberry, 1997), Japanese honorifics (Nagata, 1998), French causative instruction (Allen, 2000), French direct object pronouns (Erlam, 2003), Spanish anticausative clitic se (Toth, 2006), and English present subjunctive (Farley & Aslan, 2012).
In (18) and (19) I give an example of this using the minimal pair /haw/ 'go' and /?aw[??]/ 'say' set in the basic affirmative verb clause, which begins with the affirmative particle /ha[??]/ plus a subject clitic followed by the verb root and a verbal clitic.
An example of the former is the italicized phrase in "Make SWEET some vial, treasure thou some place," and of the latter the italicized phrase in "Within thine OWN bud buriest thy content." Rates of use of these clitic microphrases are especially apt to discriminate between authors.
However, then in the future tense we adjoin14 a modal clitic ba to the P, resulting in an extended P.
The form with stress on the final clitic pronoun (b) is the original Ligurian form and identified by speakers as archaic or 'genuine.' In fact, many speakers report that young people no longer use the latter prosody with imperatives when speaking dialect, supporting Grassi's (1993) assertion that innovations in the dialect (a) are more readily embraced by young people.
However, Demonte (1995) proposed that Spanish dative constructions with dative clitic doubling are equivalent to English DOCs.