do-gooding

do-gooding
do-good·ing (do͞oʹgo͝od'ĭng) n.
The act or action of doing good, especially naively in humanitarian causes.
  doʹ-good'ing adj.  
Word History: While at first glance the words do-gooding and do-gooder do not seem to offer much food for thought, a closer look reveals an interesting characteristic of English word-formation. The suffixes -ing and -er are normally attached to the base of a verb, as in singing, singer. But there is no verb “to do-good” rather, there is only a phrase to do good, with do being the verb. The forms do-gooding and do-gooder illustrate a tendency of English to treat certain compound expressions as indivisible units that are inflected at the end and not in the middle as one might expect. The phenomenon is seen also in nonstandard plurals like mother-in-laws for mothers-in-law. Over time, the three-word phrase mother in law was reanalyzed as a single word, now written with hyphens, leading some speakers to inflect it at the end, like most single words.

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Universalium. 2010.

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