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Clipped compound

In linguistics, a clipped compound is a word produced from a compound word by reducing its parts while retaining the meaning of the original compound.[1] It is a special case of word formation called clipping.

Clipped compounds are common in various slang and jargon vocabularies.[1]

A clipped compound word is actually a type of blend word. Like other blends, clipped compounds may be made of two or more components. However, a blend may have a meaning independent of its components' meanings (e.g., motel <— motor + hotel), while in a clipped compound the components already serve the function of producing a compound meaning (for instance, pulmotor <— pulmonary + motor).[1] In addition, a clipped compound may drop one component completely: hard instead of hard labor, or mother for motherfucker (a process called ellipsis).[1] Laurie Bauer suggests the following distinction: If the word has compound stress, it is a clipped compound; if it has single-word stress, it is a blend.[2]

The meaning of clipped compound may overlap with that of acronym, especially with compounds made of short components. [citation needed]

In the Russian language, a clipped compound may acquire one or more extra suffixes that indicate the intended grammatical form of the formed word. In particular, the suffix -k is commonly used, for example, in askorbinka (from askorbinovaya kislota (i.e., ascorbic acid)).[3]

In Japanese, clipped compounds are very commonly used to shorten long, either coined or wholly borrowed, compounds (see also Japanese phonology and transcription into Japanese). For instance, a word processor (ワープロセッサ do purosessa) may be referred to as simply ワープロ wāpuro, sexual harassment (セクシャルハラスメント sekusharu harasumento) as セクハラ sekuhara, the program Clip Studio Paint (クリップスタジオペイント Kurippu Sutajio Peinto) as クリスタ Kurisuta, the video game series Monster Hunter (モンスターハンター Monsutā Han) as モンハン Monhan, the United Nations (Kokusai Ren) as 国連 Kokuren, and the Soviet Union (ビエトSobieto Ren) as ソ連 Soren.

Clipped compound place names

Clipped compounds are sometimes used in place names.

  • English: The Delmarva Peninsula is named for the US states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia (from the traditional abbreviation Va.). Several Manhattan neighborhoods are clipped compounds including Soho ("South of Houston"), Noho ("North of Houston"), Tribeca ("Triangle Below Canal Street"), Nolita ("North of Little Italy") and Nomad ("North of Madison Square").
  • Chinese: The Chinese city of Wuhan takes its name from a clipped compound of the "Three Towns of Wuhan": Wuchang contributes "Wu", whereas Hankou and Hanyang both contribute "Han."
  • Japanese: In Japanese, city names are often combined in a clipped compound with alternative readings of the characters, especially for combined regions or for train lines between cities. Most often the kan-on readings (most common readings in kanji compounds) are used for the compounds, while the place names use other readings. For example, the Kyoto (京都, Kyōto) and Osaka (大阪, Ōsaka) region is called Keihan (京阪, Keihan), as is a major train line connecting them (Keihan Electric Railway), replacing the go-on reading kyō () and kun'yomi saka () with the kan-on readings kei () and han (). The larger region, including Kobe (神戸, Kōbe), is similarly called Keihanshin (京阪神, Keihanshin), the go-on reading shin () replacing the kun'yomi ().
  • Hebrew: In Hebrew, the word רמזור (traffic light) is made of the two words רמז (hint) and אור (light).
  • Multi-lingual: The Benelux Union takes its name from its component nations, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
  • The African country Tanzania has a name that combines the names of the two states that unified to create the country: Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Elisa Mattiello, "An Introduction to English Slang: A Description of Its Morphology, Semantics and Sociology", 2008, ISBN 8876991131, pp. 146-148
  2. ^ Bauer, Laurie (1983). English Word-Formation. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge University Press. p. 233. ISBN 0521284929.
  3. ^ Larissa Ryazanova-Clarke, Terence Wade, The Russian Language Today, 2002, ISBN 0203065875, p. 49

Further reading

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Clipped compound
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