family-tree theory


Definition of family-tree theory

: a theory in linguistics: at various periods branches (as Germanic) sprang from a parent language (as Indo-European) and subsequently forked into subbranches (as West Germanic, North Germanic) that later split up into the various modern languages (as English, German, Swedish)

called also pedigree theory

— compare wave theory

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

History and Etymology for family-tree theory

translation of German stammbaumtheorie

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about family-tree theory

Share family-tree theory

Statistics for family-tree theory

Look-up Popularity

Comments on family-tree theory

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

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?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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