- analogy1. In language analogy is the process by which the use of words follows precedents set by other words without going through all the stages that produced those precedents. This is a fundamental aspect of the way languages develop, and applies to all aspects of usage, including word-formation, spelling, inflection, meaning, collocation, and pronunciation. For example, the noun starvation (18c) was formed on the analogy of other words such as vexation (15c); the dialect and AmE past form dove (from dive) was formed on the analogy of strove (from strive); the pronunciation of controversy on the first or second syllable is by analogy with types represented respectively by matrimony and monotony. The formation seascape (and later skyscape and waterscape) was modelled on landscape, workaholic on alcoholic, and sexist (and later ageist and others) on racist. Software (in computing) was formed on the analogy of hardware, and later shareware; more recently we have seen the invention of terms for more intrusive and sinister phenomena such as adware and malware.2. Sometimes false analogies come into play, leading to uses that either appear erroneous (as sometimes in the speech of children) or prevail despite the falseness of the analogy (as with alright, modelled on altogether). More often, the role of analogy is overlooked by those who criticize aspects of usage (such as the sentence adverb hopefully) in isolation.
Modern English usage. 2014.