(बहुव्रीहि), or bahuvrihi compound
(also exocentric compound
), is a type of nominal compound
that refers to something that is not specified by any of its parts by themselves (i.e., it is headless
, its core semantic value being subsumed by an elliptical or 'external' semantic value so that the compound is not a hyponym
of the head), especially a compound that refers to a possessor of an object specified: a bahuvrihi compound XY tends to mean someone or something which has a Y, and that Y has the characteristic X. For instance, a sabertooth
) is neither a saber
nor a tooth
: it is an extinct feline with saber-like fangs. English bahuvrihis often describe people using synecdoche
, and white-collar
. Many of these are colloquial
, or both.
The term bahuvrihi was first used by Sanskrit grammarians, and is a specific Sanskrit example: a compound consisting of bahu (much) and vrihi (rice); the compound connotes a rich man, one who has "much rice".
The last constituent in a Sanskrit bahuvrihi is a noun, more strictly: a nominal stem. The whole compound is an adjective and agrees in gender and number with the head. The accent is regularly on the first member (tatpurusha rāja-pútra "a king's son", but bahuvrihi rājá-putra "having kings as sons" (viz rājá-putra- (m.) "father of kings", rājá-putrā- (f.) "mother of kings"), with the exception of a number of non-nominal prefixes such as the privative a; the word "bahuvrīhí" is itself likewise an exception to this rule.