English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm doing my term paper about wordbuilding. And I'm interested what is "mate" in the word "roommate"? Is it a second root so the word "roommate" is a compound, or is it a suffix?

share|improve this question
What research have you yourself done? Have you, for example, looked at the Wikipedia article for affixes, where the third line on the page will tell you the answer quite clearly? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 7 '13 at 15:59
I'm sorry, maybe for a native speaker it's quite a simple question) and I followed your advise, but didn't find anything helpful, or I'm just blind) I'm analysing the word building tendency on basis of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas". – AnastasiaShustikova Dec 7 '13 at 16:32
From Wikipedia: “[Affixes] are bound morphemes by definition”. ‘Mate’ is not a bound morpheme: it appears on its own as a fully-fledged noun meaning ‘friend, comrade’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 7 '13 at 16:56
:) thank you very much) – AnastasiaShustikova Dec 7 '13 at 17:01
do a simple test: say "a roommate is a type of mate." if this is true, then your compound word is an endocentric compound whose root is mate. – jlovegren Dec 7 '13 at 19:50
up vote 3 down vote accepted

All words ultimately lead to roots.

Both room and mate would trace the roots. Mate=*partner* from mette=*guest*. Room is a Germanic word from Raum.

In your example of roommate, it is a Noun+Noun compound word as in shipmate.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.