Different Forms of Word Formation | Morphology

What is Word Formation?

Word formation process is basically how new words are formed. In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word by making changes in existing words or by creating words. In other words, it refers to the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words.

Different Forms of Word Formation

Word Formation process is achieved by different ways to create a new word that includes; coinage, compounding, borrowing, blending, acronym, clipping, contraction, backformation, affixation and conversion.


Compounding is a type of word formation where we join two words side by side to create a new word. It is very common type of word formation in a language. Some time we write a compound word with a hyphen between two words and some time we keep a space and sometime we write them jointly. All these three forms are common in all languages.

Common examples of word compounding are:

  • Part + time = part-time
  • Book + case = bookcase
  • Low + paid = low-paid
  • Door + knob = doorknob
  • Finger + print = fingerprint
  • Wall + paper = wallpaper
  • Sun + burn = sunburn
  • Text + book = textbook
  • Good + looking = good-looking
  • Ice + cream = Ice-cream


In word formation process, borrowing is the process by which a word from one language is adapted for use in another language. The word that is borrowed is called a borrowing, a loanword, or a borrowed word. It is also known as lexical borrowing. It is the most common source of new words in all languages.

Common Examples of borrowed words in English language are:

  • Dope (Dutch)
  • Croissant (French)
  • Zebra (Bantu)
  • Lilac (Persian)
  • Pretzel (German)
  • Yogurt (Turkish)
  • Piano (Italian)
  • Sofa (Arabic)
  • Tattoo (Tahitian)
  • Tycoon (Japanese)


Blending is the combination of two separate words to form a single new word. It is different from compounding where we add two words side by side to make a new word but in blending we do not use both words in complete sense but new/derived word has part of both words e.g. word smog and fog are different words and when we blend them to make a new word; we use a part of each word to make a new word that is smog. We took first two letters from the first word (sm) from smoke and last two (og) from fog to derive a new word smog.

Some more examples of blending are:

  • Smoke + murk=smurk
  • Smoke + haze= smaze
  • Motel (hotel + motor)
  • Brunch (breakfast + lunch )
  • Infotainment ( information + entertainment)
  • Franglais ( French + English)
  • Spanglish (Spanish + English )


Abbreviation is a process where we create a new word by making a change in lexical form of a word keeping same meaning. There are three main types of abbreviations.

  1. Clipping / Shortening / Truncation

  2. Acronyms / Initialism

  3. Contraction

 Clipping / Shortening / Truncation

Clipping is the type of word formation where we use a part of word instead of whole word. This form of word formation is used where there is a long/multi-syllable word and to save time we use a short one instead of that long word e.g. the word advertisement is a long word and we use its short form ad (ads for plural form) instead of whole word.

Here are some examples of clipping:

  • Ad from advertisement
  • Gas from gasoline
  • Exam from examination
  • Cab from cabriolet
  • Fax from facsimile
  • Condo from condominium
  • Fan from fanatic
  • Flu from Influenza
  • Edu from education
  • Gym from gymnasium
  • Lab from laboratory

 Acronyms / Initialism

An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation from the initial letters in a phrase or a multi syllable word (as in Benelux). The initials are pronounced as new single words. Commonly derived word are written in upper case e.g. NATO.

Some common examples of acronyms are:

  • CD is acronym of compact disk
  • VCR is acronym of  video cassette recorder
  • NATO is acronym of North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • NASA is acronym of National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • ATM is acronym of  Automatic Teller Machine
  • PIN is acronym of Personal Identification Number

Some time the word is written in lower case (Initial letter capital when at start of sentence)

  • Laser is acronym of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
  • Scuba is acronym of  Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
  • Radar  is acronym of Radio Detecting And Ranging


A contraction is a word formed as an abbreviation from a word. Contractions are abbreviations in which we omit letters from the middle of a word or more than one words.

Some common contractions are below:

  • Dr is from Doctor.
  • St is from Saint.
  • He’s from He is.
  • I’ve is from I have.



Affixation is the word formation process where a new word is created by adding suffix or prefix to a root word. The affixation may involve prefixes, suffixes, infixes. In prefixes, we add extra letters before root word e.g. re+right to make a new word rewrite. In suffix, we add some extra letters with a base/root word e.g. read+able. In infixes, the base word is changed in its form e.g. the plural of woman is women that creates new word “women”.

  • Prefixes: un+ plug = unplug
  • Suffixes: cut + ie = cutie
  • Infixes: man + plural = men


Zero-derivation (Conversion)

Zero-derivation, or conversion, is a derivational process that forms new words from existing words. Zero derivation, is a kind of word formation involving the creation of a word from an existing word without any change in form, which is to say, derivation using only zero. Zero-derivation or conversion changes the lexical category of a word without changing its phonological shape. For example, the word ship is a noun and we use it also as a verb. See below sentences to understand it.

  • Beach hotel has a ship to enjoy honeymoon.
  • Beach hotel will ship your luggage in two days.

In the first sentence, the word ship is a noun and in the second sentence the word ship (verb) is derived from the action of ship (noun) that transports luggage, so the word ship (verb) has the meaning of transportation.


Back-formation is the word formation process where a new word is derived by removing what appears to be an affix. When we remove last part of word (that looks like suffix but not a suffix in real) form a word it creates a new word.

Some very familiar words are below:

  • Peddle from peddler
  • Edit from editor
  • Pea from pease


Coinage / Neologism

It is also a process of word formation where new words (either deliberately or accidentally) are invented. This is a very rare process to create new words, but in the media and industry, people and companies try to surpass others with unique words to name their services or products.

Some common examples of coinage are: Kodak, Google, Bing, Nylon, etc.


In word formation process, sometime new words are derived by based on the name of a person or a place. Some time these words have attribution to a place and sometime the words are attributes to the things/terms who discover/invent them. For example, the word volt is an electric term that is after the name of Italian scientist Alessandro Volta.

Some common examples of eponyms are:

  • Hoover: after the person who marketed it
  • Jeans: after a city of Italy Genoa
  • Spangle: after the person who invented it
  • Watt: after the name of scientist James Watt
  • Fahrenheit:  after the name of German scientist Gabriel Fahrenheit