[der-uh-vey-shuh n]
See more synonyms for derivation on
  1. the act or fact of deriving or of being derived.
  2. the process of deriving.
  3. the source from which something is derived; origin.
  4. something that is or has been derived; derivative.
  5. Mathematics.
    1. development of a theorem.
    2. differentiation(def 2).
  6. Grammar.
    1. the process or device of adding affixes to or changing the shape of a base, thereby assigning the result to a form class that may undergo further inflection or participate in different syntactic constructions, as in forming service from serve, song from sing, and hardness from hard (contrasted with inflection).
    2. the systematic description of such processes in a given language.
  7. Linguistics.
    1. a set of forms, including the initial form, intermediate forms, and final form, showing the successive stages in the generation of a sentence as the rules of a generative grammar are applied to it.
    2. the process by which such a set of forms is derived.

Origin of derivation

1375–1425; late Middle English derivacioun < Latin dērīvātiōn- (stem of dērīvātiō) a turning away, equivalent to dērīvāt(us) (past participle of dērīvāre; see derive, -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsder·i·va·tion·al, adjectiveder·i·va·tion·al·ly, adverbpre·der·i·va·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for derivation

Historical Examples of derivation

  • The opinion of the Yard was divided respecting the derivation of its name.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • You should consider how inferior we are to them both in the derivation of our birth and in other particulars.

    Alcibiades I

    (may be spurious) Plato

  • I find no key to the derivation of the word Heygre in the Etymologists.

  • He was naturally anxious to make good his derivation of the name.

    The Island Mystery

    George A. Birmingham

  • I say, what 's the derivation of your cockie-leekie,—the etymology of the phrase?

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for derivation


  1. the act of deriving or state of being derived
  2. the source, origin, or descent of something, such as a word
  3. something derived; a derivative
    1. the process of deducing a mathematical theorem, formula, etc, as a necessary consequence of a set of accepted statements
    2. this sequence of statements
    3. the operation of finding a derivative
Derived Formsderivational, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for derivation

early 15c., from Middle French dérivation (14c.), from Latin derivationem (nominative derivatio) "a leading off, turning away," noun of action from past participle stem of derivare (see derive). Grammatical sense is older; general meaning "origination, descent" is from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper