I want to make a comprehensive word list, and I want to refer to that list using the accurate terminology.

In my list I want all the forms, extensions, derivatives, etc of each word. I am using the word "forms" but is that right?

For instance "glass" is a root word.... Some forms are "glassed", "glasses", "glassy", "glassiest", "glassier", "glassing", "glazing", and probably more... And "blue" is a root word and some forms are "blueness", "bluish", "blued", "bluing", "blues", "bluesy" and more, but not necessarily "bluegrass" or all the other words containing that sequence of four letters. (Those may be distinct root words, with their own derivative forms).

Is there a term for all the derivations of a root?

I am having a hard time even searching the web for what I want because I don't know the word! Is it "derivations", "derivatives", "morphs", or something?

P.S. it is for a software project involving random words in a security system.

  • Well, the big question is how close do you want the relation to be? Glass is a noun and glaze is a verb, glassy is an adjective, glasses is a noun, glass-eyed is an adjective, glass chin is a noun compound, etc. Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 23:55

3 Answers 3


A term for the collective is

word family

A group of cognate words especially within a single language

The word family to which English write, rewrite, writer, and writ belong m-w

word family n. [compare German Wörterfamilie (1765)]

1869 T. Turner 6th Eng. Reading Bk. ii. 130 We..see that, from a parent stem-word, we obtain a large word-family.

1926 H. W. Fowler Dict. Mod. Eng. Usage 553/2 A phonetically consistent method is in English peculiarly hard to reconcile with the keeping together of word families.

2000 Today's Parent Oct. 61/1 Hearing that initial letter..is the big early reading skill. From that, kids can use all the rimes to make word families. (OED)

A word family is a group of words with a common base to which different prefixes and suffixes are added. For example, members of the word family based on the headword, base, stem, or root word work include rework, worker, working, workshop, and workmanship, among others. Similar words are called paronyms. Richard Nordquist; "Word Family: Definition and Examples in English"

paronym (n.)

A word which is derived from another word, or from a word with the same root, and having a related or similar meaning (e.g. childhood and childish); a derivative or cognate word. OED

  • "Paronym" is probably the right term. I could call such a list "A list of words that can be sorted by paronyms" But yours and several answers here have raised a hundred new questions. I'm following the threads. "Word family" is probably not the best term as it often means semantically distant words with related spelling such as "jug" and "rug".
    – Eric
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 21:47
  • Jug and rug would be three-letter words or rhymes, but "word family" to me means words with your relationship, i.e., I knew the term before looking for definitions. Paronym isn't well known and IMO describes the relationship between words better than a complete set of such words.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 23:16

A term that fits your description is "word form". It is found in the following articles from Wikipedia.

Lexemes and word forms The term "word" has no well-defined meaning. Instead, two related terms are used in morphology: lexeme and word-form. Generally, a lexeme is a set of inflected word-forms that is often represented with the citation form in small capitals. For instance, the lexeme eat contains the word-forms eat, eats, eaten, and ate. Eat and eats are thus considered different word-forms belonging to the same lexeme eat. Eat and Eater, on the other hand, are different lexemes, as they refer to two different concepts.

Lexeme-based morphology

Lexeme-based morphology usually takes what is called an item-and-process approach. Instead of analyzing a word form as a set of morphemes arranged in sequence, a word form is said to be the result of applying rules that alter a word-form or stem in order to produce a new one. An inflectional rule takes a stem, changes it as is required by the rule, and outputs a word form; a derivational rule takes a stem, changes it as per its own requirements, and outputs a derived stem; a compounding rule takes word forms, and similarly outputs a compound stem.

It can be seen from this description that, all three processes, inflection, derivation, and word compounding are covered.

  • Maybe. From all these good answers, more questions arise! It may get messy. I think the term "paronym" as in @DjinTonic's answer is close, but I may have to use more than one term to capture all of what I intend, including "word-forms" as you say. Like "A list of words each with all word-forms, sortable by paronym..."
    – Eric
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 21:57

Maybe not strictly the best answer to your question, but might be close enough for your use: “Focal meaning” (Oxford Reference)

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