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.