Definition of back-formation in English:

back-formation

Syllabification: back-for·ma·tion

noun

  • 1A word that is formed from an already existing word from which it appears to be a derivative, often by removal of a suffix (e.g., laze from lazy and edit from editor).
    More example sentences
    • It was evidently a back-formation of gullibility, which in turn was an alteration of cullibility, ultimately from cull, meaning ‘a dupe’.
    • The name ‘Troynovant’ is a back-formation from ‘Trinovantes’, the name of the powerful British tribe that lived north and east of London.
    • The verb ‘to wrong’ is more common than the noun, and indeed the noun probably gets its enclitic meaning by back-formation from the verb.
  • 1.1The process by which back-formations are formed.
    More example sentences
    • By a curious process of back-formation, a number of brand names, products and logos - Aeroplane jelly, Arnott's biscuits, Holden cars, Vegemite, the Qantas kangaroo - became national symbols in their own right.
    • Rather, he says, ‘semi-auto’ is short for ‘semi-auto-loader,’ a translation from the German, and ‘semi-auto’ was lengthened by back-formation to ‘semi-automatic.’

More definitions of back-formation

Definition of back-formation in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
noun
a slit made by cutting with a saw