Compound Word

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Compound Word


a word consisting of no fewer than two stems, each having a full lexical meaning, that together form a structural and semantic unit. Compound words are formed by joining two or more autonomous words (content) or the stems of these words into a complex whole according to a certain lexical pattern, as with the Russian words teploprovod (“hot-water pipe,” “steam pipe”), avianosets (“aircraft carrier”) and vertolet (“helicopter”). They may also be formed by nominalization, that is, by contraction and semantic compression of a syntactic construction (a word combination or clause); an example is found in the English “crybaby,” formed from “a baby cries.”

Compound words differ from word combinations or affixal derivatives graphically in that they are written as single words and phonetically in that they have a single strong stress. Morphologically they are distinct in that their parts are sometimes joined by a special connective morpheme, as with the Russian par-o-khod (“steamship”) and the German Nahrung-s-mittel (“means of nourishment”). There are also certain semantic features peculiar to compound words. Compound words can be classified on the basis of the relationship between their component parts. In German, the Scandinavian languages, and many other European languages, compound words are created in speech as readily as are word combinations; they are ad hoc in character and are not always recorded in dictionaries.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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Once the word root is found, the word is further analyzed to determine whether it is a compound word, combining word, singular, plural, abbreviation or acronym.
Recent exposure to a compound word facilitates the subsequent processing of its constituents (Masson & MacLeod 1992; Sandra 1990; Weldon 1991; Whittlesea & Brooks 1988).