Morpheme vs. Phoneme

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(linguistic morphology) The smallest linguistic unit within a word that can carry a meaning, such as "un-", "break", and "-able" in the word "unbreakable".

β€˜The word pigs consists of two morphemes: pig (a particular animal) and s (indication of the plural).’; β€˜The word werewolves consists of three morphemes: were (~ man), wolf (a particular animal), es (plural)’; β€˜The word feet consists of two morphemes: foot (a body part) and i-mutation (plural)’;


An indivisible unit of sound in a given language. A phoneme is an abstraction of the physical speech sounds (phones) and may encompass several different phones.


The smallest unit of meaning of a language, which cannot be divided into smaller parts carrying meaning; it is usually smaller than a single wordform, such as the -ed morpheme of verbs in the past tense or the -s morpheme of nouns in the plural form.


(linguistics) one of a small set of speech sounds that are distinguished by the speakers of a particular language


minimal meaningful language unit; it cannot be divided into smaller meaningful units


any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat.



A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not necessarily the same as a word.


In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west of England, the sound patterns (sin) and (sing) are two separate words that are distinguished by the substitution of one phoneme, /n/, for another phoneme, /Ε‹/.

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