Your mental dictionary



Morphology is all about our mental dictionary and the words stored in our minds; the mental system of rules that helps us form and understand words.[1] The capacity of your mental lexicon is immense, and we benefit from this knowledge not only when we use existing words but also when we create or try to understand new words. Take the word mouse for instance, its associations have broadened from simply being an animal to a computer device.

Just like a real dictionary, each word contains information about form and use. Without morphology we wouldn’t be able to pick words to construct our sentences. Without sentences communication wouldn’t happen. Without communication the world wouldn’t function as it does today.


Information? How can a word stored in our mind have information like that set out in a dictionary?


This means that every time we use a word, we mentally think about what it sounds like, its orthography, whether we want to use a noun or adjective and what we want to achieve by using it.

Key features of morphology will be outlined in the subsections of this site:

What is morphology?

How is morphology studied?

Why is morphology studied?

With the chance to build upon and test your knowledge through the quiz and word search on the Check your knowledge section. So go on, be brave and enter into the wonderful world of morphology.

By the end of it you will have:

An introduction to what morphology is and why and how people study it, and once you’re done reading, you’ll not only have taken your first step towards engaging in morphology, but also be able to answer these questions:

  • What does it actually mean to diss someone and where does the word come from?
  • Why is it called brunch and not breakfunch?
  • What does -gate mean in Watergate and Irangate?


[1] Fasold, R. and Connor-Linton, J., (1991) An Introduction to Language and Linguistics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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