Unambiguous morphic images of strings

Motivated by the research on pattern languages, we study a fundamental combinatorial question on morphisms in free semigroups: With regard to any string α over some alphabet we ask for the existence of a morphism σ such that σ(α) is unambiguous, i.e. there is no morphism ρ with ρ ≠ σ and ρ(α) = σ(α). Our main result shows that a rich and natural class of strings is provided with unambiguous morphic images.