Word formation

In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning. The boundary between word formation and semantic change can be difficult to define: a new use of an old word can be seen as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form. See Conversion (word formation).

Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expressions, although words can be formed from multi-word phrases. See Compound (linguistics) and Incorporation (linguistics).

Types of word formation

There is a number of methods of word formation.


Main article: Blend word

A blend is a word formed by joining parts of two words after clipping. An example is smog, which comes from smoke and fog, or brunch, which comes from 'breakfast' and 'lunch'.

One subcategory of blending is the reduction of a word to one of its parts, e.g., fax (facsimile), flu (influenza) and bot (robot). Such clipped words may not retain their original meaning. For example, "playing a video game against a bot" is not the same as "playing a video game against a robot".


Main article: Calque

A calque is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. For example, the English phrase to lose face is a calque from the Chinese "丟臉/丢脸."

A subcategory of calques is the semantic loan, that is, the extension of the meaning of a word to include new, foreign meanings.


Main article: Neologism

A neologism is a process of forming a new word by coining such as quark

Subcategories of neologisms include:



    Works cited

    Ein internationales Handbuch zur Natur und Struktur von Wörtern und Wortschätzen, [Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 21], Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, vol. 1, pp. 1142-1178.

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