BDME TIP is a visualization tool that makes it possible to represent, either as graphs –—similar to tree diagrams– or in linear form—, the word families and subfamilies of Spanish. The application uses the visual representation component of morpho-etymological information stored in the Base de datos morfológica del español (Morphological database of Spanish) (BDME). By showing the family relations in the form of a genealogical tree, the aim is to overcome the disadvantage of printed works, where the ordering of word families is conditioned by their linear structure.

The BDME was designed and organized by Jesus Pena (USC) in the mid 1980s. It underwent reforms, enlargement and corrections between 2009 and 2016, with two objectives: a) to provide support for the Nuevo diccionario histórico del español (New historical dictionary of Spanish) (NDHE) of the RAE in terms of its morphological and genetic configuration; b) to provide experts in morphology and the lexicon with more accurate information on derivative relationships and word families. The redesign of the BDME was carried out under the auspices of two national projects (MICINN FFI2008-03532 and MINECOFFI2012-38550) and a regional one (Xunta de Galicia10PXIB204249PR).

In the morphological database Latin, as the mother language of Romance languages, was given a privileged position. The analysis of more than 30,000 Latin words, in relation to 50,000 from Spanish, allows for contrasting Latin derivation series with those series inherited by Spanish. Thanks to this comparison, one can observe the adjustments undergone in Spanish as a consequence of the gaps and dislocations with respect to the Latin series, and one can see in a comprehensive way the word-formation patterns in Latin (mother language) and Spanish (daughter language). The analysis of more than 5,000 words from Greek provides the origin of both common lexicon, and scientific and technical vocabulary.

The design of the morphological database is such that it can be extended to the analysis of other languages in the future. The Romance vocabulary of Latin and Greek origin to be incorporated will be offered a great deal of vocabulary analized in these two languages; the derivation series in which newly analyzed words will be integrated will already be configured. From its beginnings, the database was designed to accommodate not only Spanish but also the other Romance languages, which required the prior analysis of many of the Greek and, above all, Latin word families.

When citing this resource, please use the following reference::

Pena, Jesús (dir.) (2019): BDME TIP. Plataforma web para el estudio morfogenético del léxico. Available at

Visualization of word families

BDME TIP is a visualization tool for word families, and draws on the morpho-etymological analysis of the BDME. In this database the morphological properties of the lexicon of several related languages are stored, especially from Spanish and Latin. From the word root of each word family, which in many cases will have a Latin origin, all the words that comprise it are grouped together and a detailed morphological analysis is carried out for each of the words added to the database.

Whenever a word is entered, it is analyzed morphologically —lexical category or word class, base, morphological process, etc.— and its genetic relationship is established —Latin or Greek origin, loan from other languages—, with the aim of obtaining a representation of the word families and subfamilies at different periods in Spanish.

The programs that manage the application are designed to show simultaneously two types of relationships of the word, which correspond to two different perspectives: a) derivative relationships between words of the same language, and b) relationships of the words with their origin, that is, with a different language that has been the direct or indirect source of a loanword. From the former perspective, every word is analyzed morphologically within its own language; from the latter, its genetic relationship with words from other languages is established. What the database offers are morphologically and genetically related word families. Hence it is a morpho-etymological database.


The BDME analyzes different properties of each word, including the following: the LANGUAGE to which the word belongs, the HEADWORD (citation form in dictionaries); VARIANTS, SYNONYMS AND EXAMPLES; MEANING (a brief gloss for words from languages other than Spanish) and MORPHOLOGICAL MEANINGS (the regular meaning of complex words), LABELS (diachronic, diatopical, diastratic, diaphasic, and diatechnical dimensions), if it is a HYPOTHETICAL word, and the formal marker of the word: learned/vernacular.

The etymological relationship is given in the ORIGIN, that is, the immediate antecedent in another language of the analyzed word. By means of a SEARCH, the word associated with the original language is located, which imposes a rigid order on data entry.

The remaining parameters are for the morphological analysis of the lemma that appears in the ENTRY: whether it has the status of WORD or is considered a ROOT or a combining form, the part of speech to which it belongs, the base or bases on which the word is formed (by default one, but up to four bases can be deployed) and the word formation processes (affixation –prefixation, suffixation, circumfixation, infixation–, compounding, backformation, substitution, theme vowel, conversion, clipping, blending, and acronymy). As additional information, also included are documentary SOURCES, a BIBLIOGRAPHY of morphological studies used and NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF ENTRIES including explanations of the words analyzed.

The diachronic character of the database imposes an ordered presentation of words and gives priority to Greek and Latin. For instance, to introduce in Spanish the verb agonizar (agonize) one has to first enter the Greek loanword agōnizāre in Latin, and before that the Greek verb agōnízomai 'luchar, combatir'’ (fight, combat).

One of the most notable properties of this database is that, once you enter the object loan word in its own language, it is also analyzed as far as giving the simple word: to introduce the Greek verb agōnízomai one needs to introduce its base, the noun agṓn '‘meeting'’, ‘'fight'’, and before that ágō ‘drive, carry’. Another example illustrating the long journey that analysis sometimes requires is the following: Span. anatematismo: < Lat. anathematismus '‘excommunication’' < Gr. anathematismós '‘act of cursing or condemning'’ < anathematízō ‘'throw out, launch an anathema'’ < anáthema '‘sacred object'’ < anatíthēmi ‘'put on, load'’ < títhēmi '‘put’'.

To enter a word from Spanish which is a loan from a language other than Greek or Latin, a specific order is required in the introduction of words, e.g. Span. parcela is a loan from the French parcelle, which in turn has its origin in vulgar Latin *particella, a diminutive of pars, tis. The order to follow is: Lat. pars, tis > *particella > Fr. parcelle > Span. parcela. As can be seen, a general and constant characteristic in the analysis of the data is that every Spanish word that has its origins in another language is analyzed in that language until arriving at its origin.

The BDME is described in Pena, J. (2018): “La Base de datos Morfológica del español (BDME): Caracterización y estructura”, in Garcés López, Mª P. (ed.): Perspectivas teóricas y metodológicas en la elaboración de un diccionario histórico, Madrid/Frankfurt am Main: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 17-61.

Edition place (ISSN 2660-7190)

  • Universidad de Santiago de Compostela - USC (España)
  • Instituto Universitario de Análisis y Aplicaciones Textuales - IATEXT
    Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - ULPGC (España)