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A linguistic item that resembles a word but cannot function independently because of its dependence on an adjoining word and can never be stressed. A clitic is thus intermediate between a word and an affix (prefix or suffix). The usual examples are the French pronouns je and tu, but the English negative -n't (in words like shouldn't) is another example. See also enclitic, proclitic. [Back formation from enclitic and proclitic]

Subjects: Linguistics

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