List of English back-formations

List of English back-formations

Back-formation refers to either the process of creating a new lexeme (less precisely, a new "word") by removing actual or supposed affixes, or to the neologism formed by such a process. Back-formations are shortened words created from longer words, thus back-formations may be viewed as a sub-type of clipping.

Each back-formation in this list is followed by the original word from which it was back-formed.

A

* "ablute" from "ablution"
* "aborigine" as a mistaken singular for "aborigines" (correct Latin singular is aboriginal) [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aborigine]
* "accrete" from "accretion" (root: "accrescere") [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/accrete]
* "acculturate" from "acculturation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/acculturate]
* "admix" from "admixture"
* "adsorb" from "adsorption"
* "adolesce" from "adolescence"
* "adulate" from "adulation" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/adulate]
* "advect" from "advection" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/advect]
* "aesthete" from "aesthetic" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/aesthete]
* "air-condition" from "air conditioning" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/air-condition]
* "alm" from "alms"
* "anticline" from "anticlinal" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anticline]
* "arch" ("to practice archery") from "archery"
* "arm" (weapon) from "arms" (from Latin "arma")
* "attrit" from "attrition" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/attrit]
* "auto-destruct" from "auto-destruction" (cf. "auto-destroy")
* "automate" from "automation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/automate]
* "aviate" from "aviation" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aviate]

B

* "babysit" from "babysitter" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/babysit]
* "back-form" from "back-formation"
* "bartend" from "bartender" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bartend]
* "benefact" from "benefactor" (and also the derived "benefactee", cf. "benefactor")
* "bibliograph" from "bibliography"
* "bicep" from "biceps" (non-standard) [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bicep]
* "biograph" from "biography"
* "blockbust" from "blockbuster" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blockbust]
* "book-keep" from "book-keeping"
* "bonafy" from "bonafied" (which itself is a corruption of "bona fide") [http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/bonafied.html Common Errors in English - List of Errors]
* "brainwash" from "brainwashing" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/brainwash]
* "bulldoze" from "bulldozer" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bulldoze]
* "bum" possibly from "bummer" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bum]
* "burgle" from "burglar" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/burgle]
* "bus" ("to clear dirty dishes from table") from "busboy" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bus]
* "bushwhack" from "bushwhacker" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bushwhack]
* "buttle" from "butler" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/buttle]

C

* "cadge" from "cadger" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/cadge]
* "caretake" from "caretaker"
* "chemist" from "alchemist"
* "cavitate" from "cavitation" [http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/c/c0176500.html]
* "cherry" from Old French "cerise" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cherry]
* "choate" from "inchoate"
* "choreograph" from "choreography" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/choreograph]
* "claustrophobe" from "claustrophobia"
* "cohese" from "cohesion" (cf. "cohere")
* "commentate" from "commentator" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/commentate]
* "committal" from "non-committal"
* "complicit" from "complicity" [http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/c/c0531500.html]
* "computerize" from "computerized"
* "congratulation" from "congratulations"
* "contracept" from "contraception" (cf. rare "contraceive")
* "contrapt" from "contraption"
* "convect" from "convection" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/convect]
* "conversate" from "conversation or conversing" {http://www.dictionary.reference.com/browse/conversate
* "cose" from "cosy"
* "couth" from "uncouth" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/couth]
* "co-vary" from "covariation"
* "crank" (noun) from "cranky"
* "creep" (as a noun for a person) from "creepy"
* "cross multiply" from "cross multiplication"
* "cross-refer" from "cross-reference" [http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50054606?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=cross-refer&first=1&max_to_show=10]
* "curate" from "curator" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/curate]
* "custom-make" from "custom-made"

D

* "dapple" from "dappled" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dapple]
* "darkle" from "darkling" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/darkle]
* "decadent" from "decadence" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/decadent]
* "deconstruct" from "deconstruction" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/deconstruct]
* "dedifferentiate" from "dedifferentiation" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dedifferentiate]
* "demarcate" from "demarcation" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/demarcate]
* "destruct" from "destruction" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/destruct]
* "diagnose" from "diagnosis" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/diagnose]
* "diffract" from "diffraction" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/diffract]
* "dinge" from "dingy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/dinge]
* "diplomat" from "diplomatic" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/diplomat]
* "dishevel" from "disheveled" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dishevel]
* "donate" from "donation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/donate]
* "drear" from "dreary"
* "drowse" from "drowsy" (possibly a backformation)
* "dry-clean" from "dry cleaning" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dry-clean]

E

* "eave" from "eaves" [http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50071731?query_type=word&queryword=eave&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&result_place=1&search_id=NELO-TD52Ni-4993&hilite=50071731]
* "eavesdrop" from "eavesdropper" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eavesdrop]
* "edit" from "editor" (from Latin stem "edere", to bring forth) [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/edit] , [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=edition]
* "electrocute" from "electrocution" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/electrocute]
* "elocute" from "elocution" [http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50073311?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=elocute&first=1&max_to_show=10]
* "emote" from "emotion" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/emote]
* "enthuse" from "enthusiasm" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/enthuse]
* "escalate" from "escalator" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/escalate]
* "eutrophicate" from "eutrophication"
* "evaluate" from "evaluation" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evaluate]
* "extrapose" from "extraposition" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/extrapose]

F

* "fine-tune" from "fine tuning" [http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50084941?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=fine-tune&first=1&max_to_show=10]
* "flab" from "flabby" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/flab]
* "flappable" from "unflappable" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flappable]
* "flake" ("eccentric person") from "flaky"
* "floss" ("to show off") from "flossy" [http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50291992?query_type=word&queryword=floss&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&search_id=NELO-lxSD7n-5019&result_place=5]
* "fluoresce" from "fluorescence" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/fluoresce]
* "forward-form" from "forward-formation" (a back-formation)
* "fragmentate" from "fragmentation" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fragmentate]
* "free-associate" from "free association" (backformed adjective-verb compound)
* "funk" (quality of music) from "funky" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/funk]

G

* "gamble" from "gambler" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/gamble]
* "gestate" from "gestation" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gestate]
* "ghostwrite" from "ghostwriter" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/ghostwrite]
* "gid" from "giddy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/gid]
* "gnarl" from "gnarled" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gnarl]
* "godsend" from "god-sent" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/godsend]
* "greed" from "greedy" (the noun was originally "greediness") [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/greed]
* "grid" from "gridiron" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/grid]
* "grovel" from "groveling" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/grovel]
* "grunge" from "grungy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/grunge]
* "gruntle" from "disgruntle" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gruntled]

H

* "handwrite" from "handwriting" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/handwrite]
* "hard-boil" from "hard-boiled" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hard-boil]
* "hawk" (meaning "to sell") from "hawker" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hawk]
* "haze" from "hazy" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haze]
* "headhunt" from "headhunter"
* "headquarter" from "headquarters" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/headquarter]
* "helicopt" from "helicopter"
* "housebreak" from "housebroken" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/housebreak]
* "houseclean" from "housecleaning" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/houseclean]
* "housekeep" from "housekeeper" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/housekeep]

I

* "ideologue" from "ideology" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ideologue]
* "incent" from "incentive" [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/incent]
* "indice" from "indices" (cf. "index")
* "injure" from "injury" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/injure]
* "intercept" from "interception" (possibly a backformation)
* "interfluve" from "interfluvial" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interfluve]
* "interlineate" from "interlinear"
* "intuit" from "intuition" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/intuit]
* "isolate" from "isolated" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/isolate]

J

* "jell" from "jelly" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/jell]
* "jerry-build" from "jerry-built" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/jerry-build]

K

* "kempt" from "unkempt" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/kempt]
* "kidnap" from "kidnapper" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/kidnap]
* "kudo" from "kudos" (non-standard) [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/kudos]

L

* "lase" from "laser" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/lase]
* "laze" from "lazy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/laze]
* "lech" from "lecher" [http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=letch]
* "legislate" from "legislator" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/legislate]
* "liaise" from "liaison" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/liaise]
* "loaf" (meaning "to be idle") from "loafer" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/loaf]
* "logroll" from "logrolling" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/logroll]
* "luminesce" from "luminescent" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/luminesce]

M

* "manipulate" from "manipulation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/manipulate]
* "mase" from "maser"
* "mix" from "mixt" (adj. from Old French, misconstrued as past participle of verb) [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mix]
* "mottle" from "motley" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mottle]
* "moonlight" (the verb, work on second job) from "moonlighter" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/moonlight]
* "multimillion" from "multimillionaire"

N

* "nitpick" from "nit-picking" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/nitpick]
* "notate" from "notation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/notate]

O

* "obsess" (meaning "to behave obsessively") from "obsessive"
* "one-up" or "one-upman" from "one-upmanship" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/one-up]
* "opine" from "opinion" [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=opin&searchmode=none]
* "orate" from "oration" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/orate]
* "orientate" from "orientation" [http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=back%20formation]

P

* "panhandle" (meaning "to accost") from "panhandler" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/panhandle]
* "paramedic" from "paramedical"
* "partake" from "partaker" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/partake]
* "pea" from Middle English "pease" [http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/p/p0130200.html]
* "peddle" from "peddler" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/peddle]
* "peeve" from "peevish" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/peeve]
* "pettifog" from "pettifogger" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pettifog]
* "phosphoresce" from "phosphorescent" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/phosphoresce]
* "preempt" from "preemption" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/preempt]
* "presentate" from "presentation"
* "procéss" from "procession" [http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/p/p0576700.html]
* "prodigal" from "prodigality" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prodigal]
* "proliferate" from "proliferation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/proliferate]
* "proofread" from "proofreader" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/proofread]

Q

* "quadrumvir" from "quadrumvirate" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/quadrumvir]
* "quantitate" from "quantitative"

R

* "raunch" from "raunchy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/raunch]
* "reminisce" from "reminiscence" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/reminisce]
* "resurrect" from "resurrection" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/resurrect]
* "rotovate" from "rotovator"

* "sass" (impudence) from "sassy" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sass]
* "sculpt" from "sculptor" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sculpt]
* "secrete" (meaning "to produce and emit") from "secretion" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/secrete]
* "secretive" from "secretiveness" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/secretive]
* "sedate" (the verb) from "sedative" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sedate]
* "self-destruct" from "self-destruction" (cf. "self-destroy") [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/self-destruct]
* "semantic" (adjective) from "semantics"
* "sharecrop" from "sharecropper" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sharecrop]
* "shoplift" from "shoplifter" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/shoplift]
* "sightsee" from "sightseeing" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sightsee]
* "sipid" from "insipid" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sipid]
* "sleaze" from "sleazy" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/sleaze]
* "sleepwalk" from "sleepwalking" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sleepwalk]
* "smarm" from "smarmy" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smarm]
* "sorb" from "sorption" (also a back-formation)
* "soft-land" from "soft landing" (backformed adjective-noun compound)
* "sorption" from "adsorption" and "absorption" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sorption]
* "spectate" from "spectator" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spectate]
* "stargaze" from "stargazer" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/stargaze]
* "stave" (the noun) from "staves" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/stave]
* "steamroll" from "steamroller" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/steamroll]
* "stridulate" from "stridulation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/stridulate]
* "suckle" from "suckling" [http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suckle]
* "sulk" from "sulky" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/sulk]
* "summate" from "summation" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/summate]
* "sunburn" (the verb) from "sunburned" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/sunburn]
* "superannuate" from "superannuated" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/superannuate]
* "surreal" from "surrealism" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/surreal]
* "surveil" from "surveillance" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/surveil]
* "swashbuckle" from "swashbuckler" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swashbuckle]
* "swindle" from "swindler" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/swindle]
* "syncline" from "synclinal" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/syncline]

T

* "tase" from "Taser"
* "televise" from "television" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/televise]
* "tongue-lash" from "tongue-lashing" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/tongue-lashing]
* "transcript" (verb) from "transcription" (cf. verb "transcribe")
* "tricep" from "triceps"
* "trickle-irrigate" from "trickle-irrigation" (possibly backformed from verb-noun compound but may also be verb-verb compound)
* "tweeze" from "tweezers" [http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=tweeze]
* "typewrite" from "typewriter" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/typewrite]

U

* "upholster" from "upholstery" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upholster]

V

* "vaccinate" from "vaccination" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vaccinate]
* "vend" as in "vend out" (meaning to contract out to a vendor), derived from "vendor"
* "vinify" from "vinification" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/vinify]
* "vivisect" from "vivisection" [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/vivisect]

W

* "wiretap" from "wiretapper" [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wiretap]

References


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