- the occurrence of an allomorph of a morpheme which has no phonological similarity to the other allomorphs (Ex.: the -en of oxen, as opposed to a form ending in -s)
- the use of an unrelated word (suppletive form) in a paradigm (Ex.: went for the past tense of go)
- the morphological process by which such replacement occurs
Origin of suppletionMiddle English supplecioun ; from Medieval Latin suppletio ; from Classical Latin suppletus: see suppletory
Origin of suppletionFrom Latin supplētus, past participle of supplēre, to supply; see supply.
- The supplying of something lacking.
- (grammar) The use of an unrelated word or phrase to supply inflected forms otherwise lacking, e.g. using “to be able” as the infinitive of “can”, or “better” as the comparative of “good”.
- (grammar) More loosely, use of unrelated (distantly related) words for semantically related words which may not share the same lexical category, such as father/paternal or cow/bovine.
Strictly speaking, suppletion in linguistics refers only to inflection, such as good/better, which are both adjectives, and this is the most frequent use. It is also used in the looser sense of semantic relations without etymological relations (with distant etymological relations) such as father/paternal, where these are noun/adjective. However, this latter use is significantly less common and may be considered incorrect.