Hybrid word

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A hybrid word or hybridism is a word that etymologically derives from at least two languages.


Common hybrids

The most common form of hybrid word in English combines Latin and Greek parts. Since many prefixes and suffixes in English are of Latin or Greek etymology, it is straightforward to add a prefix or suffix from one language to an English word that comes from a different language, thus creating a hybrid word.

Hybridisms were formerly often considered to be barbarisms.

English examples

Other languages

Modern Hebrew

Modern Hebrew abounds with non-Semitic derivational affixes, which are applied to words of both Semitic and non-Semitic descent. The following hybrid words consist of a Hebrew-descent word and a non-Semitic descent suffix: [5]

The following Modern Hebrew hybrid words have an international prefix:

Some hybrid words consist of both a non-Hebrew word and a non-Hebrew suffix of different origins:

Modern Hebrew also has a productive derogatory prefixal shm-, which results in an 'echoic expressive'. For example, um shmum (או״ם־שמו״ם), literally 'United Nations shm-United Nations', was a pejorative description by Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, of the United Nations, called in Modern Hebrew umot meukhadot (אומות מאוחדות) and abbreviated um (או״ם). Thus, when an Israeli would like to express his impatience with or disdain for philosophy, s/he can say filosófya-shmilosófya (פילוסופיה־שמילוסופיה). Modern Hebrew shm- is traceable back to Yiddish, and is found in English as well as shm-reduplication. This is comparable to the Turkic initial m-segment conveying a sense of 'and so on' as in Turkish dergi mergi okumuyor, literally 'magazine "shmagazine" read:NEGATIVE:PRESENT:3rd.person.singular', i.e. '(He) doesn't read magazine, journals or anything like that'. [5]


In Japanese, hybrid words are common in kango (words formed from kanji characters) in which some of the characters may be pronounced using Chinese pronunciations (on'yomi, from Chinese morphemes), and others in the same word are pronounced using Japanese pronunciations (kun'yomi, from Japanese morphemes). These words are known as jūbako (重箱) or yutō (湯桶), which are themselves examples of this kind of compound (they are autological words): the first character of jūbako is read using on'yomi, the second kun'yomi, while it is the other way around with yutō. Other examples include 場所 basho "place" (kun-on), 金色 kin'iro "golden" (on-kun) and 合気道 aikidō "the martial art Aikido" (kun-on-on). Some hybrid words are neither jūbako nor yutō (縦中横 tatechūyoko (kun-on-kun)). Foreign words may also be hybridized with Chinese or Japanese readings in slang words such as 高層ビル kōsōbiru "high-rise building" (on-on-katakana) and 飯テロ meshitero "food terrorism" (kun-katakana).

See also


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