“Derivative: 1. A word or other item of language that has been created according to a set of rules from a simpler word or item. 2. A complex word: girlhood from girl, legal from leg- (law), legalize from legal. 3. Of an essay, article, thesis, etc., and usually pejorative: depending on an earlier and better piece of work.”
Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.