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An affix is a morph that always occurs attached to another morph, that is short and that has a fairly abstract meaning (especially compared to roots, the main type of non-affix morph). The element to which an affix attaches is called base.

  • "In general, affixes are subsidiary to roots, while roots are the centers of such constructions as words. Roots are frequently longer than affixes, and generally much more numerous in the vocabulary." (Gleason 1955:59)
  • “Obligatorily bound morphs which do not realise lexemes and which are attached to roots to produce word-forms are called affixes.” (Bauer 1988:11)



Formed from Latin ad ‘to’ and fixus ‘fixed’. The term affix is attested in English since the 17th century. Before that, morphology was generally described in terms of paradigms rather than in terms of constituent elements such as affixes and roots.

See also

Affixes (survey article)


  • Bauer, Laurie. 1988. Introducing linguistic morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Gleason, H. Allan. 1955. An introduction to descriptive linguistics. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

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