There are several words (mostly related to food) which are shortenings of their historical forms. For example, the cold treat ice cream was originally known as iced cream in the 1680s. The -ed ending dropped off in about 1744.

A similar example is skim milk, which derives from the term skimmed milk which is apparently still in use in the UK. Other examples are popcorn, wax paper and whip cream.

What is the name for the historical process in which the -ed ending is dropped? Language Log talked about the phonology of this phenomenon, referring to it as t/d-dropping, but they did not give a name to the process each word went through. I was thinking that abbreviation might work, but is there a specific term available?

  • It could be, bastardization...
    – Thursagen
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 8:13
  • 6
    @Thursagen, I think your use of comma might qualify, while the change that OP describes does not resemble neither of the processes illustrated in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_%28linguistics%29 (P.S. still it is not far from the sought term so it should be put as an answer, not as a comment on the question itself)
    – Unreason
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 8:21
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    FYI, whipped cream is still in use in the UK too. Not sure about waxed paper...
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 13:24
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    @Benjol US still uses whipped cream too, but not everywhere
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 4, 2011 at 18:35
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    @Thursagen, I would have upvoted that comment if it weren't for that comma...
    – yoozer8
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 3:37

2 Answers 2


I don't think there is a specific term for the loss of -ed in these contexts. Rather, what you have is the interplay of a few different general trends.

The first factor is simply phonological. Iced cream, pronounced very deliberately, has a [stkr] cluster in the middle. In rapid speech, this is going to be reduced to [skr] anyway. The same is true of every other example you gave: if pronounced with the -ed, they contain difficult consonant clusters which are likely to be reduced in speech. This is known as elision.

The second factor is that English has a highly productive compounding process, which allows you to take any combination of two nouns and stick them together as a new lexical item. Once the phonological elision has taken place, it's immediately tempting to reanalyze the phonological string as a compound word rather than a noun phrase. So now ice cream is considered a single lexical item, and has the characteristic first-syllable stress of lexicalized compounds. This is a combination of reanalysis and compounding.


I do not know if there is more specific term (probably there is), but for now I can offer

  • morphological clipping, shortening or truncation
  • specifically it is back clipping or apocope

in hope that it will bring you closer to the specific term that deals with dropping of -ed specifically.

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