der·​i·​va·​tion | \ˌder-ə-ˈvā-shən, ˌde-rə-\

Definition of derivation 

1 linguistics

a(1) : the formation of a word from another word or base (as by the addition of a usually noninflectional affix) "Strategize" was formed by derivation from "strategy."

(2) : an act of ascertaining or stating the derivation of a word

(3) : etymology sense 1 research into the derivation of "Yankee"

b : the relation of a word to its base or root (see root entry 1 sense 6)

2a : source, origin foods of French derivation

b : descent, origination derivation from royal ancestors

3 : something that originates from something else : something derived : derivative more like an exact copy than a derivation

4 : an act or process of deriving debating the possible derivation of birds from dinosaurs

5 logic : a sequence of statements showing that a result is a necessary consequence of previously accepted statements

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Other Words from derivation

derivational \-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
… subjects' ability to auditorily recognize the correct form of derivational relationships where consonant and vowel alternation occurs. — Robert A. Barganz
derivationally adverb
derivationally related words

Synonyms & Antonyms for derivation


by-product, derivate, derivative, offshoot, outgrowth, spin-off


origin, root, source

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Examples of derivation in a Sentence

He is doing research into the derivation of “Yankee.” “Childish” was formed by derivation from “child.” Scientists are debating the possible derivation of birds from dinosaurs.
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Recent Examples on the Web

There is plenty there for the Democrats, not only the derivation of the dossier and the working with Russian officials to generate it through Christopher Steele. Fox News, "Woman who knew Kavanaugh in high school speaks out," 14 Sep. 2018 Everyone borrows from elsewhere, chefs inspire other chefs, remixing ideas and executions with the hope the final product will transcend derivation. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Restaurant Review: Detroit's Empire Kitchen & Cocktails has no clothes," 12 July 2018 The Met has a fantastic show of Mexican painting up right now, and all of that art has a Catholic derivation. Jason Farago, New York Times, "A Trinity of Opinions on the Met’s ‘Heavenly Bodies’," 20 May 2018 The derivation of the name Saigon is somewhat vague and centers around its water location. Antonia Neubauer, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Asia," 5 Oct. 2016 The derivation isn’t surprising on its own (no one would mistake a typical Roman for a feminist). Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The World Still Spins Around Male Genius," 9 May 2018 Maximizing his potential isn't only a derivation from VanderVere's on-the-mat training. Steve Reaven, Lake County News-Sun, "Early riser: Warren freshman Joel VanderVere heads to state with big dreams," 14 Feb. 2018 Everything old is new again, though with some slight derivations. Dan Sweeney,, "Power Lunch: Legislature kicks off another tourism funding fight," 25 Jan. 2018 Card games are most common—poker, euchre, a derivation of spades called Snarples. Alex Prewitt,, "Calculated Risk: NHLers Turn to Classic Game for Entertainment on the Road," 12 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'derivation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of derivation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for derivation

see derive

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Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for derivation

The first known use of derivation was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for derivation



English Language Learners Definition of derivation

: the origin of a word

: the act of forming a word from another word

: the source or origin of something


der·​i·​va·​tion | \ˌder-ə-ˈvā-shən \

Kids Definition of derivation

1 : the formation of a word from an earlier word or root

2 : etymology

3 : origin sense 1, source She enjoys foods of Mexican derivation.

4 : an act or process by which one thing is formed from another

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Comments on derivation

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


a nest or breeding place

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