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BOUND AND FREE. Contrasting terms in LINGUISTICS, used to describe elements in WORDS. A bound form is part of a word and cannot stand alone: un- and -ly in unhappily, bash- in bashful, tang- in tangible. Affixes are bound, but sometimes break free as words: ex, ism. A BASE that cannot stand alone is a bound base: vis- in visible. A free form or free word can stand alone: happy. All such forms are known in linguistics as bound and free MORPHEMES.