clit·​ic ˈkli-tik How to pronounce clitic (audio)
: a word that is treated in pronunciation as forming a part of a neighboring word and that is often unaccented or contracted

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Contractions Are Full of Clitics

We hear clitics every day in sentences like "This'll be fine" and "C'mon over here." There are two kinds of clitics: enclitics and proclitics. An enclitic is a clitic that is associated with the word that comes before it. Contractions, such as the "ve" in would've and the "ll" in it'll, are enclitics. A proclitic is associated with the word that follows it. Proclitics are transcribed into print far less often than enclitics are, but we hear them frequently in speech. For example, the sentence "They love to dance" is typically pronounced with the to truncated to a "t" that gets tacked onto the front of dance.

Word History


enclitic or proclitic

First Known Use

1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of clitic was in 1946


Dictionary Entries Near clitic

Cite this Entry

“Clitic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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