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  1. Laurie Beth Feldman,
  2. Mark Aronoff

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0560

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Feldman, L. B. and Aronoff, M. 2010. Morphology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University at Albany, SUNY

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The central focus of those who study morphology is how language users understand complex words and how they create new ones. Compare the two English words secure and insecurity. The word secure cannot be broken down further into meaningful parts. It is morphologically simple. By contrast, insecurity is morphologically complex because it consists of three unanalyzable meaningful components (i.e., in + secure + ity), which linguists call morphemes. The study of the patterning of morphemes within a word and how morphemes combine to form new complex words falls within the domain of morphology. Morphemes are meaningful elements and must be distinguished from units of sound, because a simple morpheme may be complex in its sound structure: The simple morpheme secure is complex in terms of sound, consisting of two syllables and six phonemes. The study of the sound structure in language processing is well established. Only relatively recently, however, have psycholinguists begun to examine morphology as a window into understanding how we process words.


  • affix;
  • bound morpheme;
  • concatenative morphology;
  • derivation free morpheme;
  • inflection;
  • morphological decomposition;
  • morphological facilitation;
  • morphological family size;
  • morphologically complex;
  • nonconcatenative morphology;
  • prefix;
  • productivity;
  • semantic transparency;
  • suffix