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The Australian National University

Word formation exercises

Each exercise involves understanding how combining forms and suffixes are used in the creation of new words:

 

-archy

-archy is a combining form (forming nouns) denoting a type of rule or government. It derives from Greek arkhein ‘to rule’, arhko ‘I rule’, arkhe ‘rule’.

What do the following ‘-archy’ words mean?

anarchy

matriarchy  [See matriarch for the ‘mater’ element.]

monarchy [See monarch for the ‘mon’ element.]

oligarchy [See also -oligo and oligarch.]

patriarchy 

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-arium

-arium is a suffix, deriving from Latin, and it is used to form nouns usually denoting a place.

Explain the following words:

aquarium

herbarium

planetarium

terrarium

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-cide

-cide is a suffix with two related meanings. Check your dictionary to see what these two meanings are.

Use your dictionary to discover the meaning of the following words formed with-cide, and divide the words into two groups according to which sense of -cide they derive from.

fratricide

fungicide

genocide

germicide

herbicide

homicide

infanticide

matricide [See nearby entries for the meaning of mater.]

pesticide

regicide

suicide

vermicide

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-culture

-culture is a combining form meaning ‘cultivation or husbandry, especially of a specified animal or plant’.  What do the following words mean?

agriculture

apiculture

horticulture

viticulture

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-derm

-derm (also -derma and -dermy) is a combining form from Greek derma, dermat- ‘skin’.

ectoderm  [See also ecto-.]

endoderm [See also endo-.]

epidermis [See also epi-.]

hypodermic [See also hypo-.]

pachyderm

taxidermy

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-gon

-gon is a combining form meaning ‘a plane figure with a specified number of straight sides’, from Greek -gonos ‘-angled’.  What do the following words mean?

decagon

dodecagon

heptagon

hexagon

nonagon

octagon

pentagon

polygon  [Check in your dictionary what the combining form poly- means.]

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-drome

-drome is a combining form from Greek dromos ‘running, course’.

Use your dictionary to work out how the following words use the combining form to create their meaning:

aerodrome

hippodrome  Which of the two meanings given in the dictionary would have appeared first historically? How do you think the second meaning arose?

palindrome

Here are some examples of palindromes:

level; noon; Madam, I’m Adam.

Try to make one up for yourself.

syndrome

velodrome

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-genic

-genic is a combining form based on Greek genes ‘born’. The word genesis is related to this Greek word.

1. It is used for a number of words with the sense ‘producing or produced by’. Work out from your dictionary how the combining form is used in the following words:

abiogenic  This adjectival form is given in your dictionary as a derivative of the headword abiogenesis. [If you are not sure what the term ‘derivative’ means here, see point 8 in the section ‘How to use this Dictionary’.] What would the adjective mean?

allergenic  This adjectival form is given in your dictionary as a derivative of the headword allergen. What would the adjective mean?

carcinogenic This adjectival form is given in your dictionary as a derivative of the headword carcinogen. What would the adjective mean?

cryogenics [See also the entries cryogen and cryo-.]

erotogenic

eugenics

pathogenic This adjectival form is given in your dictionary as a derivative of the headword pathogen.

What would the adjective mean?

2. It is used for a number of words with the sense ‘well-suited to’. Work out from your dictionary how the combining form is used in the following words:

photogenic

telegenic

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-cracy

-cracy is a combining form denoting a particular form of government, from Greek kratia ‘power, rule’.

What kinds of government are indicated by the following words?

aristocracy

bureaucracy [See also bureausense 2b.]

democracy

meritocracy

plutocracy

squattocracy

theocracy  [See theo- for the first element.]

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-graphy

-graphy is a combining form from Greek graphia ‘writing’.

1. Many English words that use this combining form relate to writing, whether it is a technique used in writing or the subject of the writing. Use your dictionary to discover the meaning of the following words:

autobiography  [Also look up the forms auto- and bio- to see how the complete word was created.]

biography

calligraphy [Where does the calli- element come from? Examine the following words in your dictionary: callistemon, callisthenics, callitris. What does the calli- element refer to in these words?]

hagiography [See the meaning of the combining form hagio-.]

orthography [See the meaning of the combining form ortho-.]

palaeography  [See the meaning of the combining form palaeo-.]

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-ine

-ine is a suffix, forming adjectives relating to animals. Before you look up each word in the dictionary, try to work out which animal the first part of the word refers to. What do the following words mean?

aquiline

bovine

canine

equine

feline

leonine

lupine

ovine

passerine

porcine

ursine

vulpine

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-itis

-itis is a suffix forming the names of inflammatory diseases. It comes from Greek, and is the feminine form of adjectives ending in -ites. In Greek this ending was often used with the noun nosos ‘disease’ understood. What part of the body is inflamed with the following diseases?

appendicitis

arthritis

bronchitis

cystitis  [Also see cyst.]

encephalitis

gastroenteritis  [Also see gastro- and enteric.]

hepatitis

laryngitis

meningitis

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-logue

-logue is a combining form  from Greek logos ‘word, speech, telling’. Many of the words formed with this element refer to particular types of speech or text. What do the following mean?

dialogue  [See also dia- prefix sense 1.]

duologue 

epilogue  [See also epi- prefix sense 3.]

ideologue

monologue  [See also mono-.]

prologue [See also pro-2.]

travelogue

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-logy

-logy is a combining form from Greek logos ‘word, discourse, account, collection, etc.’

1. It is often used to form words denoting a subject of study or interest. What is the meaning of the following words?

anthropology [The origin of the first element of this word is found at the entry anthropocentric.]

archaeology

astrology

biological  [See bio- sense 1.]

ecology

entomology

epidemiology

geology

gynaecology

meteorology

oncology

philology

sociology

2. It is also used to refer to various kinds of language or discourse. What do the following words mean?

anthology [Note that in the etymology, ‘flower’ is used in the figurative sense of ‘flower(s) of verse, poems’.]

etymology

eulogy [See also eu-.]

ideology

methodology

tautology

trilogy [See also tri-.]

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-lysis

-lysis is a combining form meaning ‘decomposition or disintegration’ from Greek lusis ‘loosening’. What part does it play in the meaning of the following words?

catalysis

electrolysis [See also electro-.]

glycolysis  [See glycerine for the gluco- element.]

hydrolysis [See also hydro-.]

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-mania

-mania is a combining form (from Greek mania ‘madness) meaning ‘madness, obsessiveness’. It typically denotes a specified kind of mental abnormality or obsession, but can also denote enthusiasm or admiration (as in Beatlemania). What do the following -mania words mean?

bibliomania  [See Bible for the etymology of the first element.]

dipsomania

kleptomania

megalomania

monomania [See also mono-.]

pyromania [See also pyro-.]

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-oid

-oid is a suffix (from Greek -oiedes, related to eidos ‘form’) forming adjectives and nouns denoting form or resemblance. How do the following words acquire their meaning through the use of this suffix?

android

diploid

fibroid

haploid

hominoid

paranoid

rheumatoid

thyroid [See etymology—the shape of the gland was said to resemble an oblong shield.]

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-pathy

-pathy is a combining form from Greek patheia ‘suffering, feeling’.

1. Some words formed with -pathy relate directly to the sense ‘feeling’. What do the following words mean?

antipathy  [See anti- sense 1.]

apathy 

empathy  [The initial em- is a Greek prefix meaning ‘in’.]

sympathy [The initial sym- is a Greek prefix meaning ‘with’.]

telepathy  [See tele- sense 1.]

2. Some words formed with -pathy relate to medical disorders and treatments. What do the following words mean?

allopathy

encephalopathy [See encephalitis  for the origin of the first element.]

homoeothapy

osteopathy [See osteo- for the first element.]

psychopathy

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-phobia

-phobia is a combining form producing nouns denoting a specified fear or hatred.  It comes from Greek phobos ‘fear’. What is the source of fear or hatred indicated by the following words?

acrophobia [See acrobat for the acro- element.]

agoraphobia

arachnophobia

claustrophobia

homophobia

hydrophobia [See also hydro-  sense 1]

necrophobia [See also necro-.]

xenophobia

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-saur / -saurus

-saur and -saurus are combining forms, producing names of reptiles, especially extinct ones. They derive from Greek sauros ‘lizard’.  What sorts of creature were the following. In each case try to work out what the first part of the word means, and why it was applied to the creature.

ankylosaur

brachiosaurus

brontosaurus

dinosaur

ichthyosaurus

megalosaurus

pterosaur

stegosaurus

tyrannosaurus

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-scope

-scope is a combining from Greek skopein ‘look at’. It is used to produce words denoting a device looked at or through, or an instrument for observing or showing. What are the following used for, and what does the first part of each word mean?

arthroscope

electroscope

endoscope [See endo- for the first element.]

gyroscope

kaleidoscope

microscope

oscilloscope

periscope  [See also peri- for first element.]

stereoscope   [See also stereo- for first element.]

stroboscope 

telescope

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Updated: 19 October 2010/ Responsible Officer:  Centre Director / Page Contact:  Web Publisher