combining formcom·bin·ing form
a word form that occurs only in compounds or derivatives, and that can combine with other such forms or with affixes to form a word (Ex.: bio- and -lysis in biolysis)
A modified form of an independent word that occurs only in combination with words, affixes, or other combining forms to form compounds or derivatives, as electro- (from electric) in electromagnet or geo- (from Greek ge&omacron;-, from g&emacron; “earth”) in geochemistry.
(plural combining forms)
- A form of a word used for combining with other words or other combining forms to make new words. A combining form may conjoin with an independent word (e.g., mini- + skirt), another combining form (e.g., photo- + -graphy) or an affix (e.g., cephal + -ic); it is thus distinguished from an affix, which can be added to either a free word or a combining form but not solely to another affix (e.g., Iceland + -ic but not pro- + -ic). It can also be distinguished historically from an affix when it is borrowed from another language in which it is descriptively a word (e.g., the French mal gave the English mal- in malodorous) or a combining form (e.g., the Greek kako-, a combining form of kakos, gave the English caco- in cacography).
- In computer typography, the form of an accent that can be combined with other characters, as opposed to a single character that includes the accent.
- Some fonts support more of these ligatures and combining forms than others.
The term combining form does not imply placement before or after the element to which the form is attached.