List of English back-formations

Back-formation refers to either the process of creating a new lexeme (less precisely, a new "word") by removing actual or supposed affixes, or to the neologism formed by such a process. Back-formations are shortened words created from longer words, thus back-formations may be viewed as a sub-type of clipping.

Each back-formation in this list is followed by the original word from which it was back-formed.


  • ablute from ablution
  • aborigine as a mistaken singular for aborigines (correct Latin singular is aboriginal)
  • accrete from accretion (root: accrescere)
  • acculturate from acculturation
  • admix from admixture
  • adsorb from adsorption
  • adolesce from adolescence
  • adulate from adulation
  • advect from advection
  • aesthete from aesthetic
  • air-condition from air conditioning
  • alm from alms
  • anticline from anticlinal
  • arch ("to practice archery") from archery
  • arm (weapon) from arms (from Latin arma)
  • attrit from attrition
  • auto-destruct from auto-destruction (cf. auto-destroy)
  • automate from automation
  • aviate from aviation


  • babysit from babysitter
  • back-form from back-formation
  • bartend from bartender
  • benefact from benefactor (and also the derived benefactee, cf. benefactor)
  • bibliograph from bibliography
  • bicep from biceps (non-standard)
  • biograph from biography
  • blockbust from blockbuster
  • book-keep from book-keeping
  • bonafy from bonafied (which itself is a corruption of "bona fide")
  • brainwash from brainwashing
  • bulldoze from bulldozer
  • bum possibly from bummer
  • burgle from burglar
  • bus ("to clear dirty dishes from table") from busboy
  • bushwhack from bushwhacker
  • buttle from butler


  • cadge from cadger
  • caretake from caretaker
  • chemist from alchemist
  • cavitate from cavitation
  • cherry from Old French cerise
  • choate from inchoate
  • choreograph from choreography
  • claustrophobe from claustrophobia
  • cohese from cohesion (cf. cohere)
  • commentate from commentator
  • committal from non-committal
  • complicit from complicity
  • computerize from computerized
  • congratulation from congratulations
  • contracept from contraception (cf. rare contraceive)
  • contrapt from contraption
  • convect from convection
  • conversate from conversation or conversing {
  • cose from cosy
  • couth from uncouth
  • co-vary from covariation
  • crank (noun) from cranky
  • creep (as a noun for a person) from creepy
  • cross multiply from cross multiplication
  • cross-refer from cross-reference
  • curate from curator
  • custom-make from custom-made



  • eave from eaves
  • eavesdrop from eavesdropper
  • edit from editor (from Latin stem edere, to bring forth) ,
  • electrocute from electrocution
  • elocute from elocution
  • emote from emotion
  • enthuse from enthusiasm
  • escalate from escalator
  • eutrophicate from eutrophication
  • evaluate from evaluation
  • extrapose from extraposition


  • fine-tune from fine tuning
  • flab from flabby
  • flappable from unflappable
  • flake ("eccentric person") from flaky
  • floss ("to show off") from flossy
  • fluoresce from fluorescence
  • forward-form from forward-formation (a back-formation)
  • fragmentate from fragmentation
  • free-associate from free association (backformed adjective-verb compound)
  • funk (quality of music) from funky


  • gamble from gambler
  • gestate from gestation
  • ghostwrite from ghostwriter
  • gid from giddy
  • gnarl from gnarled
  • godsend from god-sent
  • greed from greedy (the noun was originally "greediness")
  • grid from gridiron
  • grovel from groveling
  • grunge from grungy
  • gruntle from disgruntle


  • handwrite from handwriting
  • hard-boil from hard-boiled
  • hawk (meaning "to sell") from hawker
  • haze from hazy
  • headhunt from headhunter
  • headquarter from headquarters
  • helicopt from helicopter
  • housebreak from housebroken
  • houseclean from housecleaning
  • housekeep from housekeeper


  • ideologue from ideology
  • incent from incentive
  • indice from indices (cf. index)
  • injure from injury
  • intercept from interception (possibly a backformation)
  • interfluve from interfluvial
  • interlineate from interlinear
  • intuit from intuition
  • isolate from isolated


  • jell from jelly
  • jerry-build from jerry-built


  • kempt from unkempt
  • kidnap from kidnapper
  • kudo from kudos (non-standard)


  • lase from laser
  • laze from lazy
  • lech from lecher
  • legislate from legislator
  • liaise from liaison
  • loaf (meaning "to be idle") from loafer
  • logroll from logrolling
  • luminesce from luminescent


  • manipulate from manipulation
  • mase from maser
  • mix from mixt (adj. from Old French, misconstrued as past participle of verb)
  • mottle from motley
  • moonlight (the verb, work on second job) from moonlighter
  • multimillion from multimillionaire


  • nitpick from nit-picking
  • notate from notation


  • obsess (meaning "to behave obsessively") from obsessive
  • one-up or one-upman from one-upmanship
  • opine from opinion
  • orate from oration
  • orientate from orientation


  • panhandle (meaning "to accost") from panhandler
  • paramedic from paramedical
  • partake from partaker
  • pea from Middle English pease
  • peddle from peddler
  • peeve from peevish
  • pettifog from pettifogger
  • phosphoresce from phosphorescent
  • preempt from preemption
  • presentate from presentation
  • procéss from procession
  • prodigal from prodigality
  • proliferate from proliferation
  • proofread from proofreader


  • quadrumvir from quadrumvirate
  • quantitate from quantitative


  • raunch from raunchy
  • reminisce from reminiscence
  • resurrect from resurrection
  • rotovate from rotovator


  • sass (impudence) from sassy
  • sculpt from sculptor
  • secrete (meaning "to produce and emit") from secretion
  • secretive from secretiveness
  • sedate (the verb) from sedative
  • self-destruct from self-destruction (cf. self-destroy)
  • semantic (adjective) from semantics
  • sharecrop from sharecropper
  • shoplift from shoplifter
  • sightsee from sightseeing
  • sipid from insipid
  • sleaze from sleazy
  • sleepwalk from sleepwalking
  • smarm from smarmy
  • sorb from sorption (also a back-formation)
  • soft-land from soft landing (backformed adjective-noun compound)
  • sorption from adsorption and absorption
  • spectate from spectator
  • stargaze from stargazer
  • stave (the noun) from staves
  • steamroll from steamroller
  • stridulate from stridulation
  • suckle from suckling
  • sulk from sulky
  • summate from summation
  • sunburn (the verb) from sunburned
  • superannuate from superannuated
  • surreal from surrealism
  • surveil from surveillance
  • swashbuckle from swashbuckler
  • swindle from swindler
  • syncline from synclinal


  • tase from Taser
  • televise from television
  • tongue-lash from tongue-lashing
  • transcript (verb) from transcription (cf. verb transcribe)
  • tricep from triceps
  • trickle-irrigate from trickle-irrigation (possibly backformed from verb-noun compound but may also be verb-verb compound)
  • tweeze from tweezers
  • typewrite from typewriter


  • upholster from upholstery


  • vaccinate from vaccination
  • vend as in vend out (meaning to contract out to a vendor), derived from vendor
  • vinify from vinification
  • vivisect from vivisection


  • wiretap from wiretapper


Search another word or see rotovateon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature