Definition of suppletion in English:



mass nounLinguistics
  • The occurrence of an unrelated form to fill a gap in a conjugation (e.g. went as the past tense of go).

    • ‘Lexical words are generally fitted into the flow of language through such mechanisms as affixation, suppletion, stress shift, and vowel change, all of which have morphological and other effects.’
    • ‘We list the instances of suppletion and give examples of regular inflected items when they are available.’
    • ‘These patterns of suppletion can be correlated with particular geographical areas, language families, and specific lexemic groups.’
    • ‘In the first part of the paper, we show that suppletion is not erratic: suppletive forms tend to always appear in groups, in definite areas of verbal paradigms.’
    • ‘As the complementary part of the project, we will examine a range of genetically diverse languages, create a database, and use it to construct a typologically informed theory of suppletion.’


Middle English from Old French, from medieval Latin suppletio(n-), from supplere ‘fill up, make full’ (see supply).