back-formation

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

BACK-FORMATION. The creation of one WORD from another by removing rather than adding an element: laze from lazy; gruntled from disgruntled. Such words are usually coined for effect or because people think they exist or ought to exist. Some offend for aesthetic or conservative reasons, such as enthuse from enthusiasm (1820s AmE), intuit from intuition (1770s BrE), liaise from liaison (1920s BrE). Some usages may be denounced as back-formations when they are in fact long-established words: for example, the verbs aggress and resile are attested from the 16c, but are often taken to be back-formed from aggression and resilient. To back-form is itself a back-formation. Back-formations may fill structural as well as semantic gaps: aircraft formate when flying in formation, commentators commentate when reporting on games. Stunt and nonce forms are common: ‘Do your leching away from the office!’ ( Maurice West, Backlash, 1958). See NOUN-INCORPORATION, WORD-FORMATION.

views updated

back-formation formation of a word from a longer word which has the appearance of being derived from it, e.g. edit from editor. XIX ( J. A. H. Murray).
Hence G. rückbildung.