In morphosyntax, the “head” refers to the part of the word that gives it its “core” meaning. The head also determines the word class of the whole word (i.e., adjective, noun, verb, etc.).


  • Skwxwú7mesh: In the following examples provided by Jacobs (2011), the head morphemes of the words for “poured” and “spilt” can be observed.
    • In 1a), the morpheme /kw’lh-/ can be determined as being the head of the word, as it provides the core meaning, being “pour.” The additional suffixes are not heads, as they do not provide core information, but rather grammatical information (see discussion on dependents).
    • In 1b), a similar observation can be made. The morpheme /kw’èlh-/ can be posited as the head of the word, where the additional suffixes are not contributing the core meaning of the word.
Jacobs (2011, p. 1).