Base (in morphology)

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In morphology, a base is a bigger unit to which an affix attaches or to which a morphological process applies.

  • "I shall try to use the term root to refer to a single morpheme which bears the 'core' meaning of a word. The term stem will be reserved for that part of a word to which inflectional affixes are added, and base for that part to which any other morpheme is added (inflectional, derivational, compound). Unfortunately, this terminology isn't standardized..." (Spencer 1991: 461)


  • stem (though this term is somewhat narrower, applying mostly to bases of inflectional affixes or processes)
  • host (though this term is more commonly used in relation to clitics)


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


Spencer, Andrew. 1991. Morphological theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

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