AskDefine | Define affix

Dictionary Definition

affix n : a linguistic element added to a word to produce an inflected or derived form


1 attach to; "affix the seal here" [syn: stick on]
2 add to the very end; "He appended a glossary to his novel where he used an invented language" [syn: append, add on, supplement]
3 attach or become attached to a stem word; "grammatical morphemes afix to the stem"

User Contributed Dictionary

see Affix



From (1533) affixare, frequentative of affigere (past participle affixus), from ad- + figere.


  • /'æfiks/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪks


  1. That which is affixed; an appendage.
  2. A bound morpheme added to a word’s stem; formerly applied only to suffixes (also called postfixes), the term as now used comprises prefixes, suffixes, infixes, circumfixes, and suprafixes.
  3. The complex number a+bi associated to the point in the Gauss Plane with coordinates (a,b).


that which is affixed
  • Chinese: 固定 (gùdìng)
  • Croatian: afiks
  • Dutch: affix, aanhangsel
  • German: Affix
  • French: affixe
  • Greek: προσθήκη
  • Portuguese: afixo
  • Russian: добавление, дополнение, придаток
linguistics: a bound morpheme added to a word’s stem
  • Chinese: (fù)
  • Croatian: afiks
  • Dutch: affix
  • German: Affix
  • French: affixe
  • Italian: confisso
  • Japanese: 接辞 (せつじ, setsuji)
  • Portuguese: afixo
  • Russian: аффикс
mathematics: The complex number associated to a point
  • Dutch: affix
Translations to be checked


  1. To attach.


to attach
  • Dutch: vastmaken aan, aanhangen
  • Greek: κολλώ
  • Portuguese: afixar



From (1533) affixare, frequentative of affigere (past participle affixus), from ad- + figere.

Extensive Definition

An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a stem to form a word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes.

Positional categories of affixes

Affixes are divided into several categories, depending on their position with reference to the stem. Prefix and suffix are extremely common terms. Infix and circumfix are less so, as they are not important in European languages. The other terms are uncommon.
Prefix and suffix may be combined as adfix, a term that is rarely used except in contrast with infix.
In transcription, for example in the third column in the chart above, simple affixes such as prefixes and suffixes are shown connected to the stem with hyphens. Affixes which disrupt the stem, or which themselves are discontinuous, are often marked off with angle brackets. Reduplication is often shown with a tilde.

Lexical affixes

Lexical affixes (or semantic affixes) are bound elements that appear as affixes, but function as incorporated nouns within verbs and as elements of compound nouns. In other words, they are similar to word roots/stems in function but similar to affixes in form. Although similar to incorporated nouns, lexical affixes differ in that they never occur as freestanding nouns, i.e. they always appear as affixes.
Lexical affixes are relatively rare. The Wakashan, Salishan, and Chimakuan languages all have lexical suffixes — the presence of these is an areal feature of the Pacific Northwest of the North America.
The lexical suffixes of these languages often show little to no resemblance to free nouns with similar meanings. Compare the lexical suffixes and free nouns of Northern Straits Saanich written in the Saanich orthography and in Americanist notation:
Lexical suffixes when compared with free nouns often have a more generic or general meaning. For instance, one of these languages may have a lexical suffix that means water in a general sense, but it may not have any noun equivalent referring to water in general and instead have several nouns with a more specific meaning (such "saltwater", "whitewater", etc.). In other cases, the lexical suffixes have become grammaticalized to various degrees.
Some linguists have claimed that these lexical suffixes provide only adverbial or adjectival notions to verbs. Other linguists disagree arguing that they may additionally be syntactic arguments just as free nouns are and thus equating lexical suffixes with incorporated nouns. Gerdts (2003) gives examples of lexical suffixes in the Halkomelem language (the word order here is Verb Subject Object):
In sentence (1), the verb "wash" is where is the root and and are inflectional suffixes. The subject "the woman" is and the object "the baby" is . In this sentence, "the baby" is a free noun. (The here is an auxiliary, which can be ignored for explanatory purposes.)
In sentence (2), "baby" does not appear as a free noun. Instead it appears as the lexical suffix which is affixed to the verb root (which has changed slightly in pronunciation, but this can also be ignored here). Note how the lexical suffix is neither "the baby" (definite) nor "a baby" (indefinite); such referential changes are routine with incorporated nouns.


  • Gerdts, Donna B. (2003). The morphosyntax of Halkomelem lexical suffixes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 69 (4), 345-356.
  • Montler, Timothy. (1986). An outline of the morphology and phonology of Saanich, North Straits Salish. Occasional Papers in Linguistics (No. 4). Missoula, MT: University of Montana Linguistics Laboratory.
  • Montler, Timothy. (1991). Saanich, North Straits Salish classified word list. Canadian Ethnology service paper (No. 119); Mercury series. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization.'''
affix in Breton: Kenger
affix in Chuvash: Аффикс
affix in Czech: Afix
affix in Welsh: Dodiad
affix in German: Affix
affix in Spanish: Afijo
affix in Esperanto: Afikso
affix in French: Affixe
affix in Galician: Afixo
affix in Indonesian: Afiks
affix in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Affixo
affix in Icelandic: Aðskeyti
affix in Italian: Affisso
affix in Hebrew: מוספית
affix in Kurdish: Gîrek (zimannasî)
affix in Latin: Affixum
affix in Lojban: rafsi
affix in Hungarian: Toldalék
affix in Maltese: Affiss
affix in Dutch: Affix
affix in Japanese: 接辞
affix in Norwegian: Affiks
affix in Norwegian Nynorsk: Affiks
affix in Low German: Affix
affix in Polish: Zrostek
affix in Portuguese: Afixo
affix in Romanian: Afix
affix in Finnish: Affiksi
affix in Swedish: Affix
affix in Thai: หน่วยคำเติม
affix in Vietnamese: Phụ tố
affix in Ukrainian: Афікс
affix in Yiddish: פרעפיקס
affix in Chinese: 詞綴

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

IC analysis, accidence, add, adjoin, affixation, agglutinate, allomorph, allonge, anchor, annex, append, appendix, attach, belay, bound morpheme, burden, cement, cinch, clamp, clinch, coda, codicil, commentary, complicate, conjoin, conjugation, cramp, cutting, declension, decorate, derivation, difference of form, enclitic, encumber, engraft, envoi, epilogue, fasten, fix, formative, free form, glue on, graft, grapple, hitch on, immediate constituent analysis, infix, infixation, inflection, interlineation, interpolation, join with, knit, make fast, marginalia, moor, morph, morpheme, morphemic analysis, morphemics, morphology, morphophonemics, note, ornament, paradigm, paste on, plus, postfix, postscript, prefix, prefixation, proclitic, put to, put with, radical, rider, rivet, root, saddle with, scholia, screw up, secure, set, set to, slap on, stem, subjoin, suffix, suffixation, superadd, superpose, tack on, tag, tag on, tail, theme, tighten, trice up, trim, unite with, word-formation
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