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Blooming English: Observations on the Roots, Cultivation and Hybrids of the English Language by Kate Burridge (Cambridge University Press, 2004)


A word element (a type of affix) that can be inserted within the base form of a word (rather than at its beginning or end) to create a new word or intensify meaning. The process of inserting an infix is called infixation.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Abso-Bleedin'-Lutely"
    (Quincy Jones, song in the film Walk, Don't Run, 1966)

  • "Well, I can guaran-damn-tee ya. Dannie's not playin'."
    (Rick Reilly, Shanks for Nothing. Doubleday, 2006)

  • "[A]s the term suggests, [an infix] is an affix which is incorporated inside another word. It is possible to see the general principle at work in certain expressions, occasionally used in fortuitous or aggravating circumstances by emotionally aroused English speakers: Hallebloodylujah! . . .. In the movie Wish You Were Here, the main character expresses her aggravation (at another character's trying to contact her) by screaming Tell him I've gone to Singabloodypore!"
    (George Yule, The Study of Language, 3rd ed. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)

  • "English has no true infixes, but the plural suffix -s behaves something like an infix in unusual plurals like passers-by and mothers-in-law."
    (R.L. Trask, The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar, 2000)

  • "Prince William's former nanny [Tiggy Pettifer] has spoken of her joy at the engagement between the Prince and Kate Middleton, describing their union as 'fan-flaming-tastic.'"
    (Roya Nikkhah, "Prince William's Nanny Says Engagement Is 'Fan-Flaming-Tastic.'" The Telegraph [UK], Nov. 21, 2010)

  • Expletive Infixation
    "In English the only things that can be infixed are those expressive words which are used to intensify meaning. All of the seriously offensive intensifiers can be used this way, but there are plenty of sweeter-sounding remodellings too like flippin(g), frigging(g), blinkin(g) and bloomin(g), as in unbeflippinglievable and fanfrigginstastic. One of the most famous examples is, of course, Eliza Doolittle's 'absobloominlutely.'"

    " . . . [Infixing is] a complex process with an elaborate set of restrictions. For instance, infixing doesn't happen just anywhere in the word. Not all intensifiers can be infixed either. And not all words can take an infix."
    (Kate Burridge, Blooming English: Observations on the Roots, Cultivation and Hybrids of the English Language. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004)

    "Native speakers of English have intuitions about where in a word the infix is inserted. Consider where your favorite expletive infix goes in these words:
    fantastic, education, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Stillaguamish, emancipation, absolutely, hydrangea
    Most speakers agree on these patterns, though there are some dialectal variations. You likely found that the infix is inserted at the following points:
    fan-***-tastic, edu-***-cation, Massa-***-chusetts, Phila-***-delphia, Stilla-***-guamish, emanci-***-pation, abso-***-lutely, hy-***-drangea
    The infix gets inserted before the syllable that receives the most stress. And it cannot be inserted anywhere else in the word."
    (Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck, Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. Wadsworth, 2010)

  • The Integrated Adjective
    "This linguistic phenomenon is also known as the integrated adjective. In fact, a poem of that name by John O'Grady (aka Nino Culotta) was published in the eponymously titled A Book About Australia, in which numerous examples of the integrated adjective appear: me-bloody-self, kanga-bloody-roos, forty-bloody-seven, good e-bloody-nough."
    (Ruth Wajnryb, Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language. Free Press, 2005)
Pronunciation: IN-fix
Also Known As: integrated adjective
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