Cranberry morpheme

In linguistic morphology, a cranberry morpheme (or fossilized term) is a type of bound morpheme that cannot be assigned an independent meaning or grammatical function, but nonetheless serves to distinguish one word from the other.[1]


Look up cranberry, mulberry, gooseberry, raspberry, or blackberry in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The archetypal example is the cran of cranberry. Unrelated to the homonym cran with the meaning a case of herrings, this cran actually comes from crane (the bird), although the connection is not immediately evident. Similarly, mul exists only in mulberry (mul is from Latin morus, the mulberry tree). Phonetically, the first morpheme of raspberry also counts as a cranberry morpheme, even though the word "rasp" does occur by itself. Compare these with blackberry, which has two obvious unbound morphemes, and to loganberry and boysenberry, whose first morphemes are derived from personal names.


Other cranberry morphemes in English include:


Cranberry morphemes can arise in several ways:

See also


  1. "Cranberry morpheme", Lexicon of Linguistics
  2. Definition of mittere from Wiktionary
  3. 1 2 Compare French mettre, an unbound morpheme and -cevoir, which is also a cranberry morpheme.
  4. Definition of capere from Wiktionary

Wiktionary link

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