Definition and Types of Word

Definition and types of words

Definition of a Word

A word is a speech sound or a combination of sound having a particular meaning for an idea, object or thought and has a spoken or written form. In English language word is composed by an individual letter (e.g., ‘I’), I am a boy, or by a combination of letters (e.g., Jam, name of a person) Jam is a boy. Morphology, a branch of linguistics, deals with the structure of words where we learn under which rules new words are formed, how we assigned a meaning to a word? How a word functions in a proper context? How to spell a word? Etc.

Examples of word: All sentences are formed by a series of words. A sentence starts with a word, consists on words and ends with a word. Therefore, there is nothing else in a sentence than a word. 

Some different examples are: Boy, kite, fox, mobile phone, nature, etc.

Different Types of Word

There are many types of word; abbreviation, acronym, antonym, back formation, Clipped words (clipping), collocation, compound words, Content words, contractions, derivation, diminutive, function word, homograph, homonym, homophone, legalism, linker, conjunct, borrowed, metonym, monosyllable, polysyllable, rhyme, synonym, etc. Read below for short introduction to each type of word.


An abbreviation is a word that is a short form of a long word.

Example: Dr for doctor, gym for gymnasium


Acronym is one of the commonly used types of word formed from the first letter or letters of a compound word/ term and used as a single word.

Example: PIA for Pakistan International Airlines.


An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another word

Example: Forward is an antonym of word backward or open is an antonym of word close.

Back formation

Back formation word is a new word that is produced by removing a part of another word.

Example: In English, ‘tweeze’ (pluck) is a back formation from ‘tweezers’.

Clipped words

Clipped word is a word that has been clipped from an already existing long word for ease of use.

Example: ad for advertisement


Collocation is a use of certain words that are frequently used together in a form of a phrase or a short sentence.

Example: Make the bed,

Compound words

Compound words are created by placing two or more words together. When compound word is formed the individual words lose their meaning and form a new meaning collectively. Both words are joined by a hyphen, a space or sometime can be written together. 

Example: Ink-pot, ice cream,

Content word

A content word is a word that carries some information or has meaning in speech and writing.

Example: Energy, goal, idea.


A Contraction is a word that is formed by shortening two or more words and joining them by an apostrophe.

Example: ‘Don’t’ is a contraction of the word ‘do not’.


Derivation is a word that is derived from within a language or from another language.

Example: Strategize (to make a plan) from strategy (a plan).


Diminutive is a word that is formed by adding a diminutive suffix with a word.

Example: Duckling by adding suffix link with word duck.

Function word

Function word is a word that is mainly used for expressing some grammatical relationships between other words in a sentence.

Example: (Such as preposition, or auxiliary verb) but, with, into, etc.


Homograph is a word that is the same in written form (spelled alike) as another word but with a different meaning, origin, and occasionally pronounced with a different pronunciation

Example: Bow for ship and same word bow for shooting arrows.


Homonyms are the words that are spelled alike and have same pronunciation as another word but have a different meaning.

Example: Lead (noun) a material and lead (verb) to guide or direct.


Homophones are the words that have same pronunciation as another word but differ in spelling, meaning, and origin.

Example: To, two, and too are homophones.


Hyponym is a word that has more specific meaning than another more general word of which it is an example.

Example: ‘Parrot’ is a hyponym of ‘birds’.


Legalism is a type of word that is used in law terminology.

Example: Summon, confess, judiciary

Linker/ conjuncts

Linker or conjuncts are the words or phrase like ‘however’ or ‘what’s more’ that links what has already been written or said to what is following.

Example: however, whereas, moreover.

Loanword/ borrowed

A loanword or borrowed word is a word taken from one language to use it in another language without any change.

Example: The word pizza is taken from Italian language and used in English language


Metonym is a word which we use to refer to something else that it is directly related to that.

Example: ‘Islamabad’ is frequently used as a metonym for the Pakistan government.


Monosyllable is a word that has only one syllable.

Example: Come, go, in, yes, or no are monosyllables.


Polysyllable is a word that has two or more than two syllables.

Example: Interwoven, something or language are polysyllables.


Rhyme is a type of word used in poetry that ends with a similar sound as the other words in stanza.

Example; good, wood, should, could.


Synonym is a word that has a similar meaning as another word.

Example: ‘happiness’ is a synonym for ‘joy’.