When looking at Etymologies of words, I noticed that there are "borrowed" words and "derived" words. "Borrowed" is, I think, just taken from a different language, but what are "derived" words then? Aren't they also from other languages?

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    It's like inheritance; there are blood relatives, proceeding from a single ancestor, and there are relatives who've been adopted or married into the family. Cognate (from Latin co-g(e)n-atus 'born together') words have the same historic source, like English king and kin and kind, all from PIE *gen-. Borrowings get into the family at some point, like English picking up gentle, from the same root but into Latin, so that kind and gentle not only mean the same thing, they come from the same root. "Derived" would mean 'descent'.
    – jlawler
    Commented Feb 13, 2021 at 22:33
  • "they come from the same [stem]" would be more precise. "root" as in "root of the problem" is on the one hand often conflated with "root" as in "radix", "root of a polynom", i.e. something to be infered by symbolic abduction and represented abstractly in writing, as for Semitic tri-lateral roots which don't exist as such in the spoken language, maybe in the mind of the speaker as a matter of cognitive syntax, which is too unreliable to serve as yard stick. E.g. d-r-v- maybe recognizable as the sound shape of drive and drove, but also of derive! "Stem" conveys the same idea, anyhow
    – vectory
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


In this sense, a "derived" word is derived from something else within the same language, or a direct ancestor of that language.

For example, English "miniature" is borrowed from Italian, but "miniaturization" is derived from that (by adding pieces onto the end) within English itself.

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