Hybrid word

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A hybrid word is a word which etymologically has one part derived from one language and another part derived from a different language.

Common hybrids

The most common form of hybrid word in English is one which combines etymologically 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.

English examples

Non-English examples

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]

  • bitkhon-íst (ביטחוניסט) ‘one who evaluates everything from the perspective of national security’, from bitakhón ‘security’ + the productive internationalism -ist
  • khamúda-le (חמודה׳לה) ‘cutie (feminine singular)’, from khamuda ‘cute (feminine singular) + -le, endearment diminutive of Yiddish descent
  • kiso-lógya (כסאולוגיה) ‘the art of finding a political seat (especially in the Israeli Parliament)’, from kisé ‘seat’ + the productive internationalism -lógya ‘-logy’
  • maarav-izátsya (מערביזציה) ‘westernization’, from maaráv ‘west’ + the productive internationalism -izátsya ‘-ization’ (itself via Russian from a hybrid of Greek -ιζ- -iz- and Latin -atio)
  • miluím-nik (מילואימניק) ‘reservist, reserve soldier’, from miluím ‘reserve’ (literally ‘fill-ins’) + -nik, a most productive agent suffix of Yiddish and Russian descent

Examples of Modern Hebrew hybrid words which include an international prefix are as following:

  • anti-hitnatkút (אנטי־התנתקות) ‘anti-disengagement’
  • post-milkhamtí (פוסט־מלחמתי) ‘postwar’
  • pro-araví (פרו־ערבי) ‘pro-Arab’

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 – where 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 are known as jūbako (重箱) or yutō (湯桶) words, 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).

See also


  1. "Books: What can the Mattergy?" (review of John F. Wharton, The Explorations of George Burton), Time Magazine, March 19, 1951. [1])
  2. "occupation of mattergy," Naked Science Forum, last entry: 23/12/2006. [2]
  3. Jamesmessig, "Speculations on Harnessing Ambient Real Mattergy within Intragalactic and Intergalactic Space for Ultra-High Relativistic Gamma Factor Manned Space Craft," Jamesmessig's Weblog, November 21, 2008. [3]
  4. "Mattergy and Spime," Jack D Capehart's blog: REASONable Ramblings, 08/07/2009. [4]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2009), Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns. In Journal of Language Contact, Varia 2: 40–67, p. 49.

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