I am curious as to what the technical term for "de-compounding" a word is. For example, if I were to change the word "bookstore," and change it into the phrase, "store of books," what would that "process" of "de-compounding" a word be called?

  • decompounding is maybe the right word, see: scholar.google.com/… and especially link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/3-540-36618-0_13 I also saw some talk about this in a github discussion I found regarding stuff that does this in order to enable search in german texts. – Formagella Jun 10 '15 at 18:19
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    Are you quite sure that there is word for it? You might compound two words, but you cannot "decompound" them linguistically, since they were already there. So you can just paraphrase. Additionally I think a store of books is not quite the same as a book store. In a bookstore they sell or store books. Store of books sounds more like a building with a storage for/of books, so they do not necessarily sell them too. – Daniel Jun 10 '15 at 19:42

To decompose:

  • To separate into components or basic elements. (AHD)


  • The study of lexical semantics looks also at:
  • the classification and decomposition of lexical items. (Wikipedia)

From: Contrasting Languages: The Scope of Contrastive Linguistics

  • What is even worse, there seems to be no upper limit to this number since the process of decomposition of words into components of meaning appears to have no end, and it, moreover, often leads to circularities.

I would use the word decouple:


1. Separate, disengage, or dissociate (something) from something else:


NB: Decoupling the root words of bookstore would yield book store, where book is used attributively in the noun phrase book store as apple would be used attributively in the noun phrase apple tree. is not actually doing anything to the compound word itself.

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