Back-formation is distinguished from clipping because they change the part of speech – clipping also creates shortened words from longer words, but does not change the part of speech.
For example, the noun resurrection was borrowed from Latin, and the verb resurrect was then backformed hundreds of years later from it by removing the -ion suffix. This segmentation of resurrection into resurrect + ion was possible because English had many examples of Latinate words that had verb and verb+-ion pairs — in these pairs the -ion suffix is added to verb forms in order to create nouns (such as, insert/insertion, project/projection, etc.).
Back formation may be similar to the reanalyses of folk etymologies when it rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word. For example, the singular noun asset is a back-formation from the plural assets. However, assets is originally not a plural; it is a loan-word from Anglo-Norman asetz (modern French assez). The -s was reanalyzed as a plural suffix.
Even though many English words are formed this way, new coinages may sound strange, and are often used for humorous effect. For example, gruntled or pervious (from disgruntled and impervious) would be considered mistakes today, and used only in humorous contexts. The comedian George Gobel regularly used original back-formations in his humorous monologues. Bill Bryson mused that the English language would be richer if we could call a tidy-haired person shevelled - as an opposite to dishevelled.
Frequently back-formations begin in colloquial use and only gradually become accepted. For example, enthuse (from enthusiasm) is gaining popularity, though it is still considered substandard by some today.
The immense celebrations in Britain at the news of the relief of the Siege of Mafeking briefly created the verb to maffick, meaning to celebrate both extravagantly and publicly. "Maffick" was a back-formation from Mafeking, a place-name that was treated humorously as a gerund or participle. There are many other examples of back-formations in the English language.