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Hybrid word


Hybrid word

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 1
  • English examples 2
  • Non-English examples 3
    • Modern Hebrew 3.1
    • Japanese 3.2
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5

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

  • Aquaphobia – from Latin aqua "water" and Greek φοβία (phobia) "fear"; this term is distinguished from the non-hybrid word hydrophobia, which can refer to symptoms of rabies.
  • Automobile – a wheeled passenger vehicle, from Greek αὐτός (autos) "self" and Latin mobilis "moveable"
  • Biathlon – from the Latin bis meaning "twice" and the Greek ἆθλον (athlon) meaning "contest"; the non-hybrid word is diathlon
  • Bigamy – from Latin bis meaning "twice" and Greek γάμος (gamos) meaning "wedlock"
  • Bigram – from Latin bis meaning "twice" and Greek γράμμα (gramma); the non-hybrid word is digram
  • Bioluminescence – from the Greek βίος (bios) "life" and the Latin lumen "light"
  • Claustrophobia - from the Latin claustrum meaning “confined space” and Greek φόβος (phobos) meaning “fear”
  • Democide – from the Greek δῆμος (dēmos) "people" and the Latin -cida "-killer"
  • Divalent – from Greek δύο (duo) meaning "two" and Latin valens meaning "strong"; the non-hybrid word is bivalent
  • Dysfunction – from the Greek δυσ- (dys-) meaning "bad" and the Latin functio
  • Electrocution – a portmanteau of electricity, from the Greek ἤλεκτρον (ēlektron), "amber", and execution, from the Latin exsequere, "follow out"
  • Eusociality – from the Greek εὖ (eu) "good" and the Latin socialitas
  • Genocide – From the Greek γένος (genos) meaning "race, people" and the Latin cīdere meaning "to kill"
  • Geostationary – From the Greek γῆ () meaning "Earth" and the Latin stationarius, from statio, from stare meaning "to stand"
  • Heterosexual – from Greek έτερος (heteros) meaning "different" or "other" and the Latin sexus meaning "sex"
  • Hexadecimal – from Greek ἕξ (hex), meaning "six", and Latin decimus meaning "tenth"; the non-hybrid word is sedecimal, from Latin sedecimalis
  • Hexavalent – from Greek ἕξ (hex), meaning "six", and Latin valens, meaning "strong"
  • Homosexual – from the Greek ὁμός (homos) meaning "same" and the Latin sexus meaning "sex" (This example is remarked on in Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, with A. E. Housman's character saying "Homosexuals? Who is responsible for this barbarity?...It's half Greek and half Latin!".)
  • Hyperactive – from Greek ὑπέρ (hyper) meaning "over" and Latin activus
  • Hypercomplex – from Greek ὑπέρ (hyper) meaning "over" and Latin complexus meaning "an embrace"
  • Hypercorrection – from Greek ὑπέρ (hyper) meaning "over" and Latin correctio
  • Hyperextension – from Greek ὑπέρ (hyper) meaning "over" and Latin extensio meaning "stretching out"; the non-hybrid word is superextension
  • Hypervisor – from the Greek ὑπέρ (hyper) meaning "over" and the Latin visor meaning "seer"; the non-hybrid word is supervisor
  • Liposuction – from the Greek λίπος (lipos) meaning "fat" and the Latin suctio meaning "sucking"
  • Macroinstruction – from the Greek μακρος (makros) meaning "long" and the Latin instructio
  • Mattergy – from the Latin materia "material" and the Greek ἐνέργεια (energeia) "energy": a "word for interchangeable matter and energy"[1][2][3][4]
  • Mega-annum – from the Greek μέγας (megas), meaning "large", and the Latin annum, "year"
  • Meritocracy – From the Latin meritus meaning "deserved" and the Greek -κρατία (-kratia), meaning "government"
  • Metadata – from the Greek μετά (meta) and the Latin data meaning "given" from dare
  • Microvitum – from the Greek μικρος (mikros) meaning "small" and the pseudo-Latin vitum
  • Minneapolis – from the Dakota minne "water" and the Greek πόλις (pólis) "city"
  • Monoculture – from the Greek μόνος (monos) meaning “one, single” and the Latin cultura
  • Monolingual – from the Greek μόνος (monos) meaning "only" and the Latin lingua meaning "tongue"; the non-hybrid word is unilingual
  • Multigraph – from the Latin multus "many" and the Greek γραφή (graphē); the non-hybrid word would be polygraph, but that is generally used with a different meaning
  • Neonate – from the Greek νέος (neos), "new", and the Latin natus, "birth"
  • Neuroscience – from the Greek νεῦρον (neuron), meaning "sinew", and the Latin scientia, from sciens, meaning "having knowledge"
  • Neurotransmitter – from the Greek νεῦρον (neuron), meaning "sinew", and the Latin trans, meaning "across" and mittere meaning "to send"
  • Nonagon – from the Latin nonus meaning "ninth" and the Greek γωνία (gōnia) meaning "angle"; the non-hybrid word is enneagon
  • Pandeism – from the Greek παν (pan) meaning "all" and Latin deus meaning "god"; the non-hybrid word is pantheism
  • Periglacial – from the Greek περί (peri) and the Latin glaciālis
  • Polyamory – from the Greek πολύς (polys) meaning "many" and the Latin amor meaning "love"
  • Polydeism – from the Greek πολύς (polys) meaning "many" and the Latin deus meaning "god"; compare with the non-hybrid word polytheism
  • Quadraphonic – from the Latin quattuor meaning four and the Greek φωνικός (phōnikos), from φωνή (phōnē) meaning sound; the non-hybrid word is tetraphonic
  • Quadriplegia – from the Latin quattuor meaning "four" and the Greek πληγή (plēgē) "stroke", πλήσσειν (plēssein) meaning "to strike"; the non-hybrid word is tetraplegia
  • Sociology — from the Latin socius, "comrade", and the Greek λόγος (logos) meaning "word", "reason", "discourse"
  • Sociopath – from the Latin socius from sociare meaning "to associate with", and the Greek (-pathes) meaning "sufferer" from πάθος pathos meaning "incident", "suffering", or "experience"
  • Taikonaut – From the Chinese word for space "太空" (taikong) and Greek ναύτης (nautēs) meaning sailor
  • Television – from the Greek τῆλε (tēle) meaning "far" and the Latin visio meaning "seeing", from videre meaning "to see"
  • Tonsillectomy – from the Latin tonsillae "tonsils" and the Greek εκτέμνειν (ektemnein), "to cut out"
  • Vexillology – from the Latin word vexillum, meaning "flag", and the Greek suffix -λογία (-logia), meaning "study"

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 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. ^ 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.
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