Glossary of Linguistic Terms



Derivation is the formation of a new word or inflectable stem from another word or stem. It typically occurs by the addition of an affix.

The derived word is often of a different word class from the original. It may thus take the inflectional affixes of the new word class.


In contrast to inflection, derivation:

  • is not obligatory
  • typically produces a greater change of meaning from the original form, and
  • is more likely to result in a form which has a somewhat idiosyncratic meaning.
  • often changes the grammatical category of a root


Kindness is derived from kind.

Joyful is derived from joy.

Amazement is derived from amaze.

Speaker is derived from speak.

National is derived from nation.