Word formation processes

New words are being generated at a rapid speed and there has been a huge upsurge in the number of new words being considered for inclusion in dictionaries. A fairly limited number of word formation processes are responsible for these new words. In our suggested mini-project, students look at a range of examples, and try to work out the key patterns of word formation that are responsible. This makes a good starting point for a detailed investigation of new words.

Project aims

  • To look at examples of new words and phrases from the last few years.
  • To identify word formation processes used to create these new words.
  • To develop an understanding of some of the other underlying patterns of word creation.
  • To help students find their own sources of new words and encourage independent research skills.

Project outline

One way to approach this is to find word lists which separate groups of students can work on. Lists of recently coined words can be found on the BuzzWord page of the Macmillan Dictionary website.

Group these words into different categories, based on how they have been formed and what field they are from.

Further development

Look at the Englicious resources on derivational morphology to see what’s involved in many of these processes of word formation.


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