Primitive and derived words with examples/Differentiation

Primitive and derived words

The language sciences explain that words are formed thanks to different processes of change and reformulation within the same language, such as derivation. In this last process, to a lexical root, that is, to the root of a word, new terms can be attached (generally affixes: suffixes, infixes and prefixes) to convert it into another new word, which nevertheless still retains part of its original meaning. In this article we will provide you some Primitive and derived words with examples.

In this sense, primitive words are those original words that do not come from other words in the language , that is, they have not yet undergone the derivation process. They are, if you will, the original pieces of the language, historically coming from an earlier dead language, such as Latin or Greek.

Instead, derived words arise from the derivation of primitive words . Therefore, they are words created within the language, thanks to the possibilities of change and creativity that it contemplates.

For example, the word light is a word inherited from the Latin lux and constitutes an original piece, a primitive word from Spanish. On the other hand, the words lucero , skylight , backlighting , little light or candlelight are all words derived from light , thanks to the action of prefixes and / or suffixes that alter their primary meaning.

Together, primitive words and their derived words make up word families or word trees, similar to family trees. Likewise, the words that are part of the same word tree are related not only in origin, but to a certain degree of shared meaning, despite the fact that they are different words and not synonyms or anything similar.


As can be seen, in the previous examples, these are words that cannot be divided since they only have one lexeme . In fact, it can be said that the traditional definition of lexeme can also be referred to as a primitive word .

In some cases it can be a bit difficult to find what the primitive word is. However, we have given some clues to quickly recognize them. Primitive words cannot be divided, they only have one lexeme.

The word sea can be taken as an example , which in turn serves as a lexeme for other derived words such as tide or tidal wave . Another example would be the word garden , which come others like garden pipelining, garden ero or garden was.

Primitive words

Primitive words are those that do not have an origin derived from another word . These words themselves are the roots of other words found in everyday use.

Primitive words can undergo changes in their structure, adding different grammatical components or partially modifying their meaning.

The difference with derived words is that the latter originate from primitive words.

Primitive words have a structure formed by a lexeme or root.  The lexeme is the only component of primitive words since they do not come from another word or term.

These words would be  the lexemes of others in whose structure the use of morphemes is added, thus giving them a more complete meaning.

We can say that primitive words are words whose origin is not found in any other word.

We have an example in the primitive word  Flower , if we look for a derived word whose root is Flower, we will find words like Flor istería. That is to say that the derivatives are the words that start from a primitive .

The set of primitive and derived words give rise to the word families s. Normally, and as is the case with Castilian, the primitive words come from another ancient language.

Derived words

Derived words are one of the main contents that children learn in school after mastering primitive words. Its use helps them expand their vocabulary while allowing them to learn new concepts. However, although children tend to use derived words daily in their speech, the truth is that it is much more difficult for them to understand what linguistic derivation consists of. To help the little ones at home with this content, in Infant Stage we explain in a simple way what derived words are, while we offer you some practical examples.

Basically, derived words are those that arise by derivation of a primitive term through the inclusion of an affix in its structure. In other words, they are those terms that derive from a primitive word. They are characterized by maintaining a semantic link with the original term, but have an independent meaning, although it is often related to the original word.

Derived words are formed by the union of a lexeme or root, which can be the complete primitive term or part of it, and a morpheme that is the added part. To create derived words, the morphemes used are affixes that are nothing more than linguistic sequences or particles that are preceded, postponed or inserted in a word to modify its grammatical or semantic meaning.

Examples of primitive and derived words

Here are some examples of primitive and derived words:

Primitive word Derived words
Sea marine, tide, swell, maritime, sailor, tidal wave, seasick, high tide, low tide, high tide, marinate, landing.
Countryside peasant, country, camping, country, camp, countryside, countryside, uncapped,
Kiss kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss.
Stone stone, stone, stone, paved, stone.
Colour coloring, coloring, coloring, coloring, coloring, coloring, colorless, discolored.
Paper trash, stationery, stationery, paper, paper, wallpaper.
Clothing clothe, wardrobe, clothes, clothing, unroll.
Sun sunny, insolar, solcito, solar, solana, resolana, solstice, antisolar.
Bread bakery, baker, bread, bread, bread, bread basket.
Land territory, earthling, terrain, bury, underground, terrestrial, burial, banished, embankment, terrarium, landing, undertaker.
War warrior, warfare, fierce, guerilla.
Plant planting, planted, planning, seedling, planting, planter, implant, planting.
Death dead, mortal, mortuary, dying, mortality, mortality, immortal.


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