Archive for the ‘word formation’ Category

September 15th, 2009 - 12:21 pm § in etymology, names, word formation, word origins

Our Personal Names

We all feel very attached to and protective of our names. I hate it when someone misspells or mispronounces mine. It’s MY name! And I’ve been called by that name (and various nicknames) for 23 years exactly (it’s my birthday). In English we usually have 3 names – the first na[...]

September 14th, 2009 - 12:08 pm § in eponyms, etymology, word formation, word origins

Eponymous Words

Eponymous means named after a particular person. For example, the Harry Potter series and Reaganomics are both eponyms. This is another way that words are added to a language. Eponyms are actually all over our language. Did you know the Pavlova (a meringue dessert) was named after the Russian baller[...]

September 1st, 2009 - 1:29 pm § in shakespeare, word formation, word origins

Shakespeare’s Contributions to English (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, read about it here. We learned that Shakespeare added nearly 2,000 words to the English lexicon, including words like hurry, puke, monumental, and majestic. One benefit of the many words that Shakespeare coined is that we can make better distinctions between meanings. For examp[...]

August 31st, 2009 - 2:00 pm § in back-formation, etymology, mass nouns, shakespeare, word formation, word origins


What is back-formation? Back-formation is when a shorter word (lexeme) is created from a longer word. Back-formation occurs when an affix (prefix, suffix) is taken away from a word to create a new one. The term back-formation refers to this process. Remember how the word “pea” came from [...]

August 27th, 2009 - 9:02 pm § in shakespeare, word formation

Shakespeare’s Contributions to English (part 1)

(Looking for Part 2? Click here.) If you want to charge someone with a crime, there’s a word for it: you accuse them.  If you want to give a winning athlete a title, there’s a term for it: you call them a champion.  If you’re in a rush, you hurry.  If something’s grand and wonderful, [&he[...]