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Circumfixes are discontinuous affixes made up of two grammatical morphs that surround the base morpheme on both sides. One must therefore understand them together as representatives of only one morpheme, since they only fulfill a grammatical meaning or function together. In German there are examples of this in both the derivation and the inflection :

  • Derivation: Ge… e in “running”, “rushing”. In these cases, the discontinuous morpheme Ge… e has the function of indicating the substantiation of the underlying verb stem.
  • Inflection: ge ... t in "ge-ehr-t", "ge-lach-t" has the function of indicating the morpheme participle II in weak verbs . With strong verbs, the morph combination ge ... en does the same thing: "ge-Lauf-en", "ge-rung-en".

In both cases, neither the prefix nor the suffix alone is sufficient to indicate the respective grammatical function in these examples.

The circumfix in the broader sense is a combination of a prefix and a suffix, which can also appear independently of each other (for example in the German past participle: wanted). For strong verbs, the circumfix is ​​used, for weak verbs, on the other hand, is used for… - (e) t.


  • Hadumod Bußmann (Ed.): Lexicon of Linguistics. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-520-45203-0 (keyword: discontinuous elements ).
  • Wilfried Kürschner: Grammatical Compendium. Systematic index of basic grammatical terms . 3rd, increased unedited edition. Francke, Tübingen / Basel 1997, ISBN 3-8252-1526-1 , pp. 84f.
  • Franz Simmler: Morphology of German. Inflectional and word formation morphology. Weidler, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-89693-304-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Circumfix  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: discontinuous morpheme  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations