Here are some different forms of a word that come to mind:

  • Noun (singular, plural, possessive)
  • Verb (past, present, future, etc.)
  • Adverb
  • Adjective

I know that these are called parts of speech and there are other terms involving the grammar of changing them like conjugation for verbs. But it’s the subcategories for these that I’m interested in, especially nouns. For example, there are 3 subcategories for nouns:

  • Nouns that describes how a person behaves/what they do (someone who is gluttonous is a glutton) or what they believe in (someone who believes in existentialism is an existentialist)

  • Nouns that describe the process of something getting done (the process of creating something is creation)

  • Nouns that describe a phenomenon like a way of thinking or a trait (using the previous examples, an existentialist believes in existentialism and a glutton gives into gluttony

Also there is a subcategory of verb that I’m thinking of:

  • To make something or someone have more of a particular quality (making something more simple is simplifying it, making someone more beautiful is beautifying them)

I know all of this has to do with etymology, particularly prefixes and suffixes. But I would like to know if there is a dictionary or other reference (preferably online, but I’m open to books) that has all the different forms of a word in one place. I know some online dictionaries might have them, but that doesn’t always happen. For example, if I google initial, initialization or initialize don’t show up in many dictionaries (I only saw one from a quick google search). This is also a simple word. It can be more difficult when trying to find more technical or less common words. Any and all information on this topic is welcome, not necessarily just references like a dictionary

  • I suspect that the Oxford Dictionary may come close, but most people don't have the shelf space for its 20 volumes.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 14:10
  • Thanks for your answer. I didn’t know that Oxford dictionary had 20 volumes and that’s insane
    – Ibby
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 7:08
  • The older versions were one enormous volume, like 8 inches across. Needed a special table to hold it. Then, as it got larger they broke it into two volumes, then more.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


It's not usually necessary to list all forms of a word formed by adding common prefixes and suffixes. These affixes have common meanings in the way that they modify the root word, so unless the modified form has an ideosynctatic meaning, most dictionaries won't bother describing them explicitly. If they did, practically every definition would go on for many pages, because English allows affixes to be added in an almost unlimited manner, and this would require more lexicographers whose only task was to write all these tedious, obvious definitions.

That's how you get words like "antidisestablishmentarianism"; the root word is "establish", and two prefixes and three or four suffixes have been added (I'm not sure if "arian" is one suffix or the combination or "ary" and "an"). As each affix is added, the meaning is altered in the usually expected way, so you can understand the final word just from the basic grammar.

  • I understand the length limitation for physical dictionaries but not digital ones. There is a reason things like singular and plural forms of a word are included in a dictionary. For example, the word fungus could take on the plural form of funguses but fungi is used instead. Also it’s like you said, there are many ways to manipulate a word so it would be nice to see the correct ways. It’s not like everyone wants to use a textbook of prefixes and suffixes to derive the proper form of a word.
    – Ibby
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 22:25
  • Even online dictionaries require people to write all the definitions. And there's a difference between just listing the forms (as is often done to show the plurals and conjugations) and actually writing definitions of all of them.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 22:27
  • If there are specific forms that have known issues, they're usually described in "Usage notes". Otherwise we just assume that you can perform any meaningful modifications.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 22:29
  • I’m not sure if I explained myself incorrectly but I don’t necessarily want the definitions, just the various forms of a word. Once you have those all in one place, it’s easy to find the definitions of the other words.
    – Ibby
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 22:30
  • There's still a practically infinite variety. There are hundreds of affixes, and they can be combined in almost arbitrary ways.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 22:32

It seems you're looking for the derivations of different words.

For instance, the noun 'beauty' has

Noun derivations: beautification, beautician, beautifier, beautifying

Verb derivations: beautify

Adjective derivations: beauteous, beautiful

Beauteous can then be turned again into

Beauteousness which is a noun, or beauteously which is an adverb.

Also, beautiful can be turned into

Beautifully which is an adverb.

You can also make compound nouns from beauty, such as...

Beauty queen, beauty contest, beauty pageant, etc.

Now, if you are looking for such derivations, then you can't find everything in one place or on one website, but I can refer you to some places you can visit:





If you want software applications, instead... you can go for Word Web. Even with these softwares, you won't get everything, but they can make your job much easier.

  • Thanks for your answer. I’ll definitely check out the Word Web software
    – Ibby
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 19:09

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