back-for·​ma·​tion ˈbak-fȯr-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce back-formation (audio)
: a word formed by subtraction of a real or supposed affix from an already existing longer word (such as burgle from burglar)
: the formation of back-formations

Word History

First Known Use

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of back-formation was in 1888

Dictionary Entries Near back-formation

Cite this Entry

“Back-formation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on back-formation

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!