I'm looking for the right term to look into when it comes to "normalize" (remove word inflections) English words. For example:

participation -> participate
changing -> change
granted -> grant
mangoes -> mango
leaves -> leaf
baked -> bake
baking -> bake

Since I'm not a native English speaker I don't know what terms I should search for. I tried normalize english words But the results are far from what I'm looking for.

I'm actually looking for a javascript component that does that.

  • I suggest removing mention of JavaScript as it’s not really relevant and may be a distraction here.
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 17:04
  • 1
    npmjs.com/package/inflection will singularize. It may be hiding other tricks. In your other cases, you're trying to convert verb tenses to simple present. inflection.inflect( 'people' 1 ); // === 'person' inflection.inflect( 'octopi' 1 ); // === 'octopus' inflection.inflect( 'Hats' 1 ); // === 'Hat'
    – jimm101
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 17:19
  • 3
    Look up lemmatize and see if it fits your needs. Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


I think the column on the right is the root.

A root (or root word) is a word that does not have a prefix in front of the word or a suffix at the end of the word. The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (this root is then called the base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. — https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_(linguistics)

  • 1
    I also found this: thoughtco.com/what-is-base-word-forms-1689161
    – Azevedo
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 17:19
  • @Azevedo Even though I like getting my answer accepted, normally it’s good to wait a few hours (at least) before accepting an answer, in case a better one comes along. Some of the comments look promising as potential answers.
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 17:40
  • 1
    Yeah OP's examples all fit this, so that's a +1 from me. That said, a more general answer would be base or base form. For example, if he's looking at internationalizationable, you can only speak of the root if he wants to reduce that one all the way down to nation. If he is happy with just internationalize, that's the base form, not the morphological root.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 18:53
  • This is not a verb, which the question seems to be requesting. If the process of obtaining the root of a word is rooting, fine. But I don't think it is. Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 18:59

The process itself is stemming and a program that does it is a stemmer:

A stemmer is an algorithm that operates on the principle of recognizing “stem” words embedded in other words. These are helpful for lexical purposes, for example, in online dictionaries, for heuristics in file management, or anywhere else that semantic tools can help create order.

Stemmers pick up the inclusion of a core or stem word within a longer word. For example, a stemming algorithm might look at a word like “planning,” and correctly recognize that the root word or stem word is “plan.” This can be a helpful element of something that parses raw text for analysis, either for a website or some other project.


This is called lemmatizing. The lemma is the dictionary form of a word.

If you want precise technical language, the difference between a lemma and a stem is that a stem is a substring of the original word. For the word "better", the stem is something like "be-" or "bet-", and the lemma is "good". The lemma is what you want.

If you have a budget for a good lemmatizer, it can be helpful if you're making a search engine. If normalization isn't very crucial to your application, I believe the the Porter Stemmer and Snowball are free.

Of your examples, the relationship between "participation" and "participate" stands out, because that's not really an example of changing to another form of the same word. It is deriving a different word, because it's going from a noun to a verb. This is the difference between "derivational morphology" and "inflectional morphology".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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