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Encyclopedia > Stem (linguistics)

A stem, in linguistics, is the combination of the basic form of a word (called the root) plus any derivational morphemes, but excluding inflectional elements. (This means, alternatively, that the stem is the form of the word to which inflectional morphemes can be added, if applicable.)

If the definition of a stem includes the possibility of zero derivation, then any root is also a stem. That is, if X is a root, then a stem X can be conceived as the root X plus a zero derivational affix.


The English root argu(e) gives the following stems (among others):

  • argue (verb, zero derivation)
  • argument (noun, with the addition of the derivational affix -ment)
  • arguably (adverb, with the addition of the derivational affixes -able and -ly, fused into one)
  • unarguably (adverb, built on arguably plus the negative affix un-)

  Results from FactBites:
stem - definition by dict.die.net (532 words)
Anything resembling a stem or stalk; as, the stem of a tobacco pipe; the stem of a watch case, or that part to which the ring, by which it is suspended, is attached.
Stem leaf (Bot.), a leaf growing from the stem of a plant, as contrasted with a basal or radical leaf.
To remove the stem or stems from; as, to stem cherries; to remove the stem and its appendages (ribs and veins) from; as, to stem tobacco leaves.
stem: Definition, Synonyms and Much More from Answers.com (2225 words)
Branching stems have been classified either as excurrent, when there is a central trunk and a conical leaf crown, as in firs and other conifers, or as decur-rent (or deliquescent), when the trunk quickly divides up into many separate axes so that the crown lacks a central trunk, as in elm.
The stems of herbaceous and of woody plants differ: those of herbaceous plants are usually green and pliant and are covered by a thin epidermis instead of by the bark of woody plants.
There is relatively more pith in herbaceous stems, and the cambium, which increases the diameter of woody stems, is usually almost inactive; it is therefore characteristic of herbaceous stems that, although they increase in height, their increase in diameter is small.
  More results at FactBites »



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