from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An unstressed word, typically a function word, that is incapable of standing on its own and attaches in pronunciation to a stressed word, with which it forms a single accentual unit. Examples of clitics are the pronoun ’em in I see ’em and the definite article in French l'arme, “the arm.”
  • adjective Of or relating to a clitic or clisis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun linguistics A morpheme that functions like a word, but appears not as an independent word but always attached to a following or preceding word.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Greek klitikos, leaning, from klīnein, to lean; see klei- in Indo-European roots.]



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  • tragically, this would be the most apropos entry in my linguistics is sexy list yet

    December 3, 2007

  • lol sarra!

    December 3, 2007

  • A grammatically independent and phonologically dependent word. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level. For example, the English possessive -'s is a clitic; in the phrase the girl next door’s cat, -’s is phonologically attached to the preceding word door while grammatically combined with the phrase the girl next door, the possessor.

    June 21, 2008

  • I asked the girl next door and she said she doesn't have a cat.

    September 29, 2008

  • Well, don't ask her about her clitics

    October 5, 2009