• preventive and preventative
  • interpretive and interpretative
  • exploitive and exploitative
  • authoritive and authoritative

Is there a term, grammatical or not, for these pairs?

  • 2
    Authoritive is not listed in the OED even as an alternate form for authoritative, and its Ngram shows strictly negligible comparative (comparive?) frequency. As for the other pairs, which of the altern[at]ives are you saying is newer and once dismissed as fad? Per Ngram, interpretive seems to have surpassed the formerly favored interpretative in 1963, but preventive seems always to have had the edge over preventative, exploitative over exploitive. – Brian Donovan Dec 18 '14 at 22:59
  • Exploitative vs exploitive: grammarist.com/spelling/exploitative-exploitive – user66974 Dec 18 '14 at 23:07
  • 1
    Some of your examples are incorrect. I know your question, but can you come up with actual, real-life, used-in-writing-not-blogging examples? – anongoodnurse Dec 19 '14 at 0:54

Looking at a single pair seems adequate to illustrate the general principle here.

Interpretive was a late starter, and etymologically speaking it stands on somewhat shaky ground. The originally "standard" version interpretative derives from Latin interpretāt-, participial stem of interpretārī (i.e. - there were always two t's even in Latin).

OED says under its entry for the more recent interpretive that it's modeled on forms such as assertive - from Latin assert- participial stem of as-serĕre (only one t in the Latin original).

I assume no-one really wants to defend assertative, assertitive, or (God forbid! :) assertatitive too strongly. Usually if people are going to bend the rules they at least want the justification of being able to say theirs is a shorter, simpler form.

I'm a descriptivist by nature, so I'm not going to say any of the "non-standard etymology" versions of such word-pairs are actually wrong. But you could say they're examples of...

the process of creating a new lexeme, usually by removing actual or supposed affixes

I think it's still back-formation if you add rather than remove an affix. But as implied above, such variants aren't so likely to catch on anyway.


Another term I would use for these pairs is variants. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/variant

I believe doublet from @Erik Kowal is more precise.

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