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An infix is an affix which occurs inside its base.


Tagalog, a language spoken at the Philippines, has a number of infixes. From the monomorphemic root sulat 'writing' the derived verb sumulat 'to write' is formed by infixing -um- after the initial consonant. The existence of infixes is not uncontroversial. Broselow & McCarthy (1983) and McCarthy (1986) argue that infixation is just a special kind of prefixation or suffixation.


Sometimes the term infix is also used for adfixes that occur nonperipherally in a word, but not inside another morpheme. However, this usage of infix is usually regarded as erroneous.

"Now, shouldn’t we analyze -al in decolonialization also as an infix (after all, it occurs inside a word)? The answer is ‘no.’ True, -al occurs inside a complex word, but crucially it does not occur inside another morpheme." (Plag 2003:11)

Arabic infixes, sometimes also called transfixes are vocalic patterns within so-called discontinuous morphemes, traditionally called roots. For example, the triconsonantal root {k..t..b} is the discontinuous morpheme, which carries the meaning of 'writing', into which a vocalic pattern such as {..a..a} can be infixed to give you /katab/ (a pausal form), meaning 'wrote'. In fact, the morphemic analysis of past verb forms in Arabic is more complex than it might overtly seem were we to add gender as yet a third morpheme.


The term infix is first attested in the last quarter of the 19th century.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Broselow, J. & J. McCarthy 1983. A Theory of Internal Reduplication, The Linguistic Review 3, pp. 25-88
  • McCarthy, J. 1986. OCP Effects: gemination and antigemination, Linguistic Inquiry 17, pp. 207-264
  • Plag, Ingo. 2003. English word-formation. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Other languages

German Infix (de)