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a means of making word forms and word bases from different roots. As a systemic phenomenon, suppletion is typical of Indo-European languages: examples are Russian ia-menia (“I”–“me”), Lithuanian aš-mane (“I”–“me”), and English “am”–“is.” Instances of suppletion also occur in languages of other genetic groups, for example, Afrikaans is-was (“are”–“was”), Turkish im-dir (“am”–“is”), and Finnish hyvä-parempi (“good”–“better”).

Suppletion in early periods of linguistic development (early suppletion) was caused by the establishment of lexical and grammatical linguistic categories. Later suppletion was caused by phonetic changes in roots and by semantic processes involving the attraction of different roots. The term “suppletion” is also used in a broader sense, to designate a means of word formation. Examples are French tomber-chute (“to fall”–“the fall”), Swedish stjäla-tjuv (“to steal”–“thief”), and English “good”–“well.”


Konetskaia, V. P. Suppletivizm v germanskikh iazykakh. Moscow, 1973. (Contains bibliography.)
Osthoff, H. Vom Suppletivwesen der indogermanischen Sprachen. Heidelberg, 1899.
Benveniste, E. “Un Fait de supplétisme lexical en indoeuropéen.” In the collection Beiträge zur Indogermanistik und Keltologie. Innsbruck, 1967.