One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A word that is formed from an existing word which looks as though it is a derivative, typically by removal of a suffix (e.g. edit from editor).
- ‘Since this use of 'ginger' is considered obsolete by the OED, these instances suggest a re-invention via back-formation rather than a survival of the old word.’
- ‘It was re-introduced in 1896 by Max Beerbohm as a deliberate and humorous back-formation from uncouth but has never really become established again in mainstream English.’
- ‘The name ‘Troynovant’ is a back-formation from ‘Trinovantes’, the name of the powerful British tribe that lived north and east of London.’
- ‘It was evidently a back-formation of gullibility, which in turn was an alteration of cullibility, ultimately from cull, meaning ‘a dupe’.’
- ‘The verb ‘to wrong’ is more common than the noun, and indeed the noun probably gets its enclitic meaning by back-formation from the verb.’
- 1.1mass noun The linguistic process by which back-formations develop.
- ‘By a curious process of back-formation, a number of brand names, products and logos - Aeroplane jelly, Arnott's biscuits, Holden cars, Vegemite, the Qantas kangaroo - became national symbols in their own right.’
- ‘Rather, he says, ‘semi-auto’ is short for ‘semi-auto-loader,’ a translation from the German, and ‘semi-auto’ was lengthened by back-formation to ‘semi-automatic.’’
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