back-formation

noun
back-for·​ma·​tion | \ ˈbak-fȯr-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce back-formation (audio) \

Definition of back-formation

1 : a word formed by subtraction of a real or supposed affix from an already existing longer word (such as burgle from burglar)
2 : the formation of back-formations

First Known Use of back-formation

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about back-formation

Time Traveler for back-formation

Time Traveler

The first known use of back-formation was in 1888

See more words from the same year

Statistics for back-formation

Cite this Entry

“Back-formation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back-formation. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on back-formation

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about back-formation

Comments on back-formation

What made you want to look up back-formation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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