A unit of language that encodes a meaning, but does not necessarily stand on its own as a word or part of a sentence. Words themselves are morphemes, but words (in English, for example) can be composed of multiple morphemes. In the English word 'disturbingly', the morphemes are 'disturb', '-ing', and '-ly', each of which modifes the meaning of the resulting word.

Some languages, such as those spoken by the Inuits, have such productive morphemes that there is a huge number of "words" to be made (see Eskimos do NOT have 40 words for snow). Isolating languages, like Chinese, do very little combination of morphemes to form separate words. Even more interesting is the root-and-pattern morphology of Semitic languages like Hebrew.
The simplest unit of meaning in a language.

For example, in English, the word "faster" is composed of two morphemes:

Confusion often results between the concepts of morphemes and syllables: the word "arrange" has two syllables, but is composed of only one morpheme--"range" is a separate word, but its meaning has no connection to that of "arrange". Also, one can note that {ar-} can't serve as an independent morpheme either--it adds nothing to the meaning of the base word.

On the other hand, sometimes a single syllable can carry more than one morpheme; consider "kicked". There are two distinct units of meaning here:

It is pronounced as a single syllable "kikt", but it can be broken down into two separate morphemes.

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