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COMPLEX WORD

COMPLEX WORD. A WORD consisting of a base and one or more derivational elements: unlikely (un-, like, -ly); vitality (vit-, -al, -ity). In origin and structural type, there are four kinds of complex word in English: (1) Vernacular. Formed on ‘native’ principles, but including some long-established words of LATIN, GREEK, and FRENCH background: darkness, womanhood, beefy, priestly. Such words may have equivalents in the GERMANIC LANGUAGES: English unmanly, German unmännlich. (2) Romance. Formed on Latinate principles. Many such words are structurally (though not phonologically) identical or similar in English and the Romance languages: English impossible, discrimination; French impossible, discrimination; SPANISH impossible, discriminación. (3) Greek. Formed on principles adapted from classical Greek through NEO-LATIN. Many such words are structurally similar in English and Greek: English dogmatic, magnetism, Greek dogmatikós, magnetismós. (4) Hybrid. A mix of the above: uncreative mixes vernacular un- with Latin cre- and -ative; ethically mixes Greek eth- and -ic with Latin -al and vernacular -ly. See COMBINING FORM, COMPOUND-COMPLEX WORD, DERIVATION, PREFIX, SUFFIX, WORD-FORMATION.

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