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In linguistics, the smallest grammatical unit of speech. It may be an entire word (cat) or an element of a word (re- and -ed in reappeared). In so-called isolating languages, like Vietnamese, each word contains a single morpheme; in languages such as English, words often contain multiple morphemes. The study of morphemes is included in morphology.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on morpheme, visit Britannica.com.