Morphology - Unit Three - Lesson No. 16

Infexes, superfixes and circumfixes

Other types of affixes include infixes, superfixes and circumfixes.

3. Infix

An infix is a word-element that is inserted into the middle of a word to form another word. In Tagolog, a language in Philippines, -um means “ one who did something”. The following examples will show how this morpheme is inserted into a root in the form of an infix (from Thakur 1997: 9).

  1. Pi:lit = effort
  2. Pumi:lit = one who made and effort or compelled
  3. Su:lat = writing
  4. Sumu:lat = one who wrote


English only has infixing deviantly, whether creative or poetic. The following example is taken from Trask (2007: 9):


  1. Absobloodylutely {creative}
  2. Pity his poor monster manunkind {poetic}


4. Superfix


Superfixes are affixes which are placed ‘on top of’ a word in the sense of stress or pronunciation variation. The English nouns ‘ record (a vinyl music disc)’ and ‘ contest (a competition)’ are distinguished from the related verbs reCORD and contest only by a change in the placement of the stress.

5. Circumfix

In simple words, a circumfix is an affix that is a combination of a prefix and a suffix. Some languages have circumfixes, morphemes that are attached to a base morpheme both initially and finally. These are sometimes called discontinuous morphemes. In Chickasaw, a Muskogean language spoken in Oklahoma, the negative is formed with both a prefix ik- and the suffix –o. The final vowel of the affirmative is dropped before the negative suffix is added. Examples of this circumfixing are:

Affirmative Gloss Negative Gloss
chokma “he is good’ ik + chokm + o “he isn’t good”
lakna “it’s yellow” ik + lakn + o “it isn’t yellow”
palli “it is hot” ik + pall + o “it isn’t hot”
tiwwi “he opens (it)” ik + tiww + o “he doesn’t open (it)”


In conclusion, the German root lieb means “love” and its past form is obtained by adding the prefix ge- and the suffix –t; thus, geliebt means “loved” or “beloved”, when used as an adjective (Fromkin et al 2007: 81).


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