Definition of combining form in English:

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combining form

Pronunciation: /kəmˈbīniNG ˌfôrm/


A linguistic element used in combination with another element to form a word (e.g., Anglo- ‘English’ in Anglo-American, bio- ‘life’ in biology, -graphy ‘writing’ in biography).
Example sentences
  • As an aside, telethon is one of those odd blends in which two combining forms, prefix and suffix, have been borrowed from separate words and jammed together, extinguishing any root word.
  • That's why they're called Cryptoaliens, ‘crypto’ being a combining form that means ‘unknown’.


In this dictionary, combining form is used to denote an element that contributes to the particular sense of words (as with bio- and -graphy in biography), as distinct from a prefix or suffix that adjusts the sense of or determines the function of words (as with un-, -able, and -ation).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·bin·ing form

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