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From Sanskrit बहुव्रीहि ‎(bahú-vrīhi, much rice), itself a bahuvrihi from बहु ‎(bahu, much) and व्रीहि ‎(vrīhi, rice), referring neither to much nor to rice, but to a person who has much rice, i.e. a rich man, one who has "much rice".


bahuvrihi ‎(plural bahuvrihis)

Examples (type of nominal compound)
  • redcoat — A British soldier during the American Revolution
  • bluestocking — A scholarly, literary, or cultured woman
  • lowlife — An untrustworthy, despicable, or disreputable person.
  1. (linguistics) A type of nominal compound in which the first part modifies the second and neither part alone conveys the intended meaning.
    • 1986, Alan Jeffrey Nussbaum, Head and Horn in Indo-European, page 273,
      It would therefore not be surprising if unambiguous bahuvrihi morphology were to be used occasionally in a governing compound.
    • 1997, Prague Studies in English, Volume 22, Universita Karlova, page 16,
      At the same time, none of the extended adjectival bahuvrihis has its linear counterpart in either poem.
    • 2006, Réka Benczes, Creative Compounding in English, page 19,
      Thus, bahuvrihi compounds have some kind of an identifying function. Marchand provides the following explanation for the origins of bahuvrihi compounds: they were used very early in Indo-European languages, primarily for namegiving, but most of them functioned only as adjectives.

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