Is there a single term which includes words and parts of words, e.g., the term could be applied to any of these:

  • the word “international”
  • the root “inter-” taken independently of the words it fits in
  • any segmentable part of a word, e.g. “in”, “ter”, “na”, “tion”, “al”, which is in this case segmentation by syllable

The term could, but need not necessarily, include letters.

  • All of those things are substrings of the word, though not all substrings are categories on their own, like prefixes or syllables are. Do you want something that encompasses only the categorized parts of a word?
    – Cameron
    Sep 2, 2012 at 0:01
  • -1 research not shown
    – MetaEd
    Sep 2, 2012 at 5:28

1 Answer 1


It depends on whether the word chunk is a meaningful constituent or not. Most chunks aren't.

In international, there are at least three Morphemes -- maybe four, depending on whether one counts the in- in inter:

  • in-ter . nation . al

Morphemes are the meaningful chunks of words, like book and keep in bookkeepers, as well as derivational and inflectional bound forms like -al, -er, and -s.

However, meaningless substrings such as terna, ookkee, or nal are not morphemes.

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