One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Linguistics. Chiefly in Semitic languages: a syllable, particle, etc., prefixed as a formative element.
1Linguistics. Chiefly in Semitic languages, of a syllable, particle, etc.: prefixed as a formative element.
2That shapes, influences, or contains preformed elements of something which follows.
Late 18th century. From pre- + formative. In the specific uses in Semitic grammar after post-classical Latin praeformativus; compare German Präformativum, (now usually) Präformativ, nouns, präformativ, adjective. Compare afformative, afformative.
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