Hybrid word

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

Common hybrids[edit]

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[citation needed].

Hybridisms were formerly often considered to be barbarisms.[1][2]

English examples[edit]

Other languages[edit]

Modern Hebrew[edit]

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:[15]

  • 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 origin
  • kiso-lógya (כיסאולוגיה‎) '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

The following Modern Hebrew hybrid words have an international prefix:

  • anti-hitnatkút (אנטי־התנתקות‎) 'anti-disengagement'
  • post-milkhamtí (פוסט־מלחמתי‎) 'post-war'
  • pro-araví (פרו־ערבי‎) 'pro-Arab'

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

  • shababnik (שבבניק‎) 'rebel youth of Haredi Judaism', from Arabic shabab (youth) and -nik of Yiddish and Russian descent

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 a Hebrew speaker 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'.[15]


In Filipino, hybrid words are called siyokoy (literally "merman"). For example, concernado ("concerned"): "concern-" is from English and "-ado" is from Spanish.


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[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. 'barbarism', definition 1a
  2. ^ McArthur, Roshan (2005). R. McArthur & T. McArthur (ed.). Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-19-280637-6., s.v. 'barbarism'
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas. "antacid". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  4. ^ Harper, Douglas. "beatnik". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "bigamy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Campanology". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2022-07-11. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "chiral". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  8. ^ Harper, Douglas. "claustrophobia". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  9. ^ "What Can the Mattergy?" (review of John F. Wharton, The Explorations of George Burton), Time magazine, March 19, 1951.
  10. ^ In 1954 John William Tranter Spinks (1908-97), professor of chemistry, and president of the University of Saskatchewan 1960-75, wrote: “Einstein could have simplified matters considerably by coining a word such as mattergy, matter and energy merely being different forms of mattergy, mattergy I and mattergy II.” J.W.T. Spinks, “Language and Science,” American Chemical Society, Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 31, no. 7 (1 July 1954), p. 348.
  11. ^ Google Scholar lists articles and books that discuss mattergy: [1]
  12. ^ "occupation of mattergy", Naked Science Forum, last entry: 23 December 2006
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Mattergy and Spime", Jack D Capehart's blog: REASONable Ramblings, 08/07/2009.
  15. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2009), Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns. In Journal of Language Contact, Varia 2: 40–67, p. 49.