Definition of enclitic in English:



  • A word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened and forms part of the preceding word, for example n't in can't.

    Compare with proclitic
    • ‘With its multitude of vowels and complex systems of inflections and enclitics, Navajo is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.’
    • ‘The object pronoun ‘me’ is arguably an enclitic, merging phonologically with the word that precedes it.’


  • Denoting or relating to an enclitic.

    • ‘The inflectional and enclitic systems of Navajo are complex, with ten different prefixes possible in the left positions, and seven different enclitic options possible after the verb stem.’
    • ‘As in Edinburgh, the enclitic negative is nae, ny, as in cannae can't, dinnae don't, whereas other dialects have na.’


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek enklitikos, from enklinein ‘lean on’, from en- ‘in, on’ + klinein ‘to lean’.