a linguistic form that occurs only in combination with other forms. In word formation, a combining form may conjoin with an independent word (mini- + skirt), another combining form (photo- + -graphy), or an affix (cephal- + -ic); it is thus distinct from an affix, which can be added to either a free word or a combining form but not solely to another affix (Iceland + -ic or cephal- + -ic but not pro- + -ic). There are three types of combining forms: (1) forms borrowed from Greek or Latin that are derivatives of independent nouns, adjectives, or verbs in those languages; these combining forms, used in the formation of learned coinages, often semantically parallel independent words in English (cf., for example, cardio- in relation to heart, -phile in relation to lover) and usually appear only in combination with other combining forms of Greek or Latin origin (bibliophile, not bookphile); (2) the compounding form of a free-standing English word; such a combining form usually has only a single, restricted sense of the free word, and may differ from the word phonetically. Compare -proof, -wide, -worthy, -land, -man; (3) a form extracted from an existing free word and used as a bound form, typically maintaining the meaning of the free word, or some facet of it. Compare heli-2, mini-, para-3, -aholic, -gate, -orama. Note that the term “combining form” does not specify placement before or after the element to which the form is attached.
A Long List of Affixes: Suffixes, Prefixes, and Combining FormsSuffixes -able, -ible, -ile: (form adjs) able to, fit to, worthy, capable; apt to; subject to being ~-ed -ac: one affect with -ac, -al, -ane, -ar, -ary, -ch, -ese, -ic, -ical, -id, -ile, -ine, -ish, -ory: like, of, pertaining to; characterized by -aceae: families of plants -aceous, -ous: resemblance to a substance; full of -acy, -age, -ance, -ancy, -asm, -dom, -ence, -ency, -hood, -ism, -ity, -ment, -mony, -ness, -ry, -ship, …
Did You Know How This Word Was Formed?Words are funny things. Here are some that might not mean what you thought ... at least when they were originally formed.
- combined pregnancy,
- combined version,
- combining weight,
- combo store,
Origin of combining form
First recorded in 1880–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
a linguistic element that occurs only as part of a compound word, such as anthropo- in anthropology
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012