I thought of water, but my editor told me that this can be divided into wat (wet) and -er, an old form of a plural marker. I'm not sure if this is true or not, as the proto-germanic word is *wadr, according to etymonline.

Note: prefixes like tele- don't count. I'm looking for unbound morphemes, basically multisyllable words that, upon breaking them down into their individual syllables have absolutely zero relation to the meaning of the morpheme.

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    It is good practice to have your question in the body of the question, even if it is short enough to fit in the title. In this and other cases it would encourage you to define your terms for the benefit of a wider audience. Many of us have a reasonable education and linguistic experience, without necessarily being familiar with the technical vocabulary.
    – David
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 13:50
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    There are probably many. Water is a multisyllabic unbound (free) morpheme, its etymological journey doesn't change it. Water may have been suffixed long time ago, when it began its journey in PIE per Etymonline: "from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet." If one wants to be pedantic, there are other examples like fire which was never suffixed in its etymological journey.
    – ermanen
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 13:52
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    The majority of PIE roots were monosyllabic, but there are also a lot of polysyllabic roots like agro- (found in agriculture, acre). But questions just asking for long lists tend to be frowned upon. I think the question could do with some clarification, and I'm not sure if it would be better on Linguistics SE as it is not really about English specifically. (Tele comes from the root kwel-)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


Since most PIE roots are monosyllabic, your best bet may be to look for loanwords from non-Indo-European languages.

Igloo might be a candidate, for instance. Wiktionary gives this etymology:

From Inuktitut ᐃᒡᓗ (iclo, “house, building (of any kind)”), from Proto-Inuit *ǝɣlu, from Proto-Eskimo *ǝŋlu.

It may ultimately have been derived from two monosyllabic roots, but the known etymology does not include any.

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