Does terminology exist for discriminating between words which do/don't contain a prefix/suffix?

How could I describe this difference in the synonyms 'discontinue' and 'stop'? Here, 'dis' is a prefix and 'stop' contains no affix.

More fundamentally, is there a term for words which do not contain other words/affixes as substrings?

I am also curious if a word contains an affix vs another word as a substring, if these are different concepts.

  • Where you wrote "which do not contain substrings of other words", did you mean to say something like "which do not contain other words as substrings"? Are you counting an affix as a type of word, by the way?
    – user28567
    Sep 24, 2014 at 5:00
  • That is what I meant @snailboat I'll update the question. I'm not sure if affixes can be words. Maybe I'm asking 2 questions. Is there a term for a word which contains no affix? And, is there a term for a word which contains no other words as a substring? Sep 24, 2014 at 7:48
  • What a great question !! Surely there are technical terms here?? (like ...... "singleton word" or some such??)
    – Fattie
    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:27
  • 1
    Are there any words which are composed of only a prefix and suffix?!
    – Fattie
    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:28
  • @JoeBlow enable, unity
    – Barmar
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:04

3 Answers 3


This is an addition to @user2655010's answer as I don't have commenting privileges

According to this definition a root is a morpheme that underlies an inflectional or derivational paradigm.

And since a morpheme is: any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, each constituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot be divided into smaller independent grammatical parts then a root would not contain another word or affix


What about describing "stop" as a root word and "discontinue" as a root with a prefix? http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words/rootaffix.html talks about dividing morphemes into roots and affixes.

  • Would a root necessarily not contain a another word or affix? Or is this a relative term? Sep 24, 2014 at 19:01

The most likely option would be root words


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