long-lived (lônglīvd, -lĭvd, lŏng-)
1. Having a long life: a long-lived aunt.
2. Lasting a long time; persistent: a long-lived rumor.
3. Functioning a long time; durable: a long-lived light bulb.
Word History: Some uncertainty exists as to the correct pronunciation of long-lived. Should one say (lônglīvd) or (lônglĭvd)? The answer depends in part on how one looks at the word. Historically, the first pronunciation is the more accurate. The word was formed in Middle English times as a compound of long and the noun life, plus the suffix -ed. This suffix, though identical in form to the past tense suffix, has a different function: to form adjectives from nouns, as in the words hook-nosed, ruddy-faced, and round-shouldered. (Note that English has no verbs such as "to hook-nose," and "to ruddy-face," that would have formed participial adjectives ending in -ed.) In Middle English, the suffix -ed was always pronounced as a full syllable, so long-lifed (as it was then spelled) had three syllables. The f in the middle, by a rule of earlier English phonology, was voiced between the two vowels to (v); eventually, the spelling became long-lived to reflect the pronunciation. (We see the same alternation in life and lives; in Middle English, lives had two syllables just like -lived.) However, this new spelling introduced an ambiguity; it was no longer clear from the spelling that the word came from the noun life, but rather looked as though it came from the verb live. In this way a second pronunciation, (lônglĭvd), was introduced.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.