A suffix is an element of a language that is added to the end of a word. E.g. -ly is a suffix often found at the end of adverbs: really, quickly, happily, strangely, etc., -d/-ed is a suffix often found at the end of a verb to denote the simple past: used, bruised, grazed, heated, etc.

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Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
33
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3answers
2k views

Origin of “-ing”

What is the origin of the suffix -ing used to form gerunds and present participles? Why is the suffix the same in both cases?
31
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9answers
17k views

“Trainer” is to “trainee” as “mentor” is to what?

What do you call someone who is being mentored? Is it mentoree or mentee? Does the term student or pupil imply a context outside the business environment?
27
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2answers
5k views

Is there any relation between the suffix “-ship” and actual ships?

I am curious if there is actual relation between all nouns ending in -ship, such as relationship, citizenship, sportsmanship, etc. with the vessel for transporting people or goods over the sea?
26
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3answers
1k views

What purpose does an '-o' serve?

I have been singing a lot of children’s songs lately, and this afternoon in the car I noticed three songs that add an ‑o to the end of words: “He had many a mile to go that night before he ...
21
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2answers
17k views

Correct spelling: Updatable or Updateable?

Which is the correct spelling of the word? For example, "The file is not updat(e)able.". Btw, I did go to google and ref.dic.com for this first, and they both seem to indicate that they are both ...
20
votes
3answers
4k views

When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able?

I've seen a thread that generally asks about Creating words with “-able” suffix But I don't think it answers my point, though they are admittedly dangerously close topics. When do you drop the 'e' ...
19
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9answers
2k views

Opposite of the suffix -less

I'm looking for a suffix that has the opposite meaning of the suffix -less as in stainless. That is, a suffix that means “not free of ...”. In German, for example, there is the adverb “behaftet” and ...
19
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3answers
2k views

What does the suffix “‑fu” mean?

Can anyone tell me what the suffix “‑fu” stands for in the following sentence? If you want to take advantage of some other Spring-fu, like some of its aspect-oriented features, then you’ll need to ...
18
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1answer
27k views

Suffixes for verbification: -ify, -icise, -ificate

The suffixes -ise/-ize -ify -ificate are all used for verbifying nouns and adjectives. What are the differences in meaning/connotation/usage between them? (This is generalising from the ...
17
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3answers
3k views

Creating words with “-able” suffix

What are general rules of thumb for creating adjectives with -able? I wanted to denote an object as having an ability to be tiled, but "tileable" and "tilable" both yielded as incorrect words by spell ...
16
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4answers
9k views

What is the distinction between “among” and “amongst”?

It seems amongst is quite often used as a synonym for among but it is supposed to sound more distinguished. Is there any difference in the meaning?
15
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3answers
18k views

Why is a woman a “widow” and a man a “widower”?

There are lots of words that have male and female forms, and usually there are alternate suffixes to the words which indicate the gender; for example, "waiter" vs. "waitress", "mister" vs. "mistress", ...
15
votes
3answers
592 views

When did things like ‑fu start to spread?

I have looked at the answers to the question Can anyone tell me what the suffix “‑fu” stands for?, and I understand what it means. When, though, did it come into use? Does its spread coincide with ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the origin of “earthling”?

What is the origin of the word earthling? Are there other words with a similar meaning (marsling, venusling)?
14
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4answers
9k views

“Extensible” vs. “extendible”

Where does the adjective form extensible come from and does it connote anything different than extendible? What's the difference, if any, between the two?
14
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6answers
16k views

Difference between “commentor” and “commentator”

What is the difference between commentor and commentator? Is commentor or commenter a legitimate English word?
14
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2answers
1k views

What's the deal with “fiery”?

How did English end up with the adjective fiery (instead of *firy) from fire, but miry from mire and wiry from wire? Are there any other words where the noun is -ire and the adjective is -iery?
14
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2answers
400 views

What’s going on with “drink > drench”? Is it like “passage > passenger”?

Edit: I am looking for a particular linguistic term for this process (which here uses terminal palatalization to indicate such) of turning passive verbs like drink into active verbs like drench. I ...
14
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5answers
20k views

What is the difference between “electric” and “electrical” and their usage?

What is the difference between electric and electrical and their usage? For example, what is the difference between "electrical machine" and "electric machine"?
13
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5answers
25k views

What does the suffix “-saurus” mean?

Is it the same meaning in tyrannosaurus as in thesaurus? I really can’t imagine what those two words could possibly have in common!
13
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3answers
3k views

Suffixing by “-rama”, “-orama” or “-arama” — how did this begin?

Suffixing by -rama, -orama or -arama — how did this begin? I mean words like futurama, foodarama, etc.
12
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2answers
787 views

What does the -st word ending mean and is it used in any modern vocabulary?

I know there are plenty of words that use the -st ending: wouldst, whilst, unbeknownst, etc. but I'm not really sure what it means to add an -st suffix to a word. What does it mean to add the suffix? ...
11
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5answers
1k views

What is the adjectival form of “nemesis”?

If I have a non-person object or idea that I consider to be my nemesis1, how could I refer to the object as a noun but use an embellishing adjective to emphasize that the object is my nemesis? For ...
11
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4answers
8k views

“-gram” vs. “-graph”

What’s the difference between the suffixes -gram and -graph? Is there any difference? Even if they are completely synonymous, what’s the difference in etymology? For example, pictograph vs. ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Rules for removing last vowel when adding “-able”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able? Both are correct for these words: sizable, sizeable sharable, shareable takable, takeable But these words are ...
11
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2answers
9k views

Word formation with the nominal suffix -tion: when and why do we insert an “a”?

Recently, a colleague became flustered when she used orientate instead of orient. She says she frequently makes this sort of "back formation error" because of the nominal form, which is orientation. ...
11
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1answer
2k views

Is there a maximum number of suffixes that can be added to an English word?

You can add various derivational and inflectional suffixes on to most English words to create new longer words (or forms of words). But is there a definite or theoretical maximum that can be added in ...
11
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4answers
5k views

Are the words “sillily”, “uglily”, “friendlily”, “livelily”, etc., valid English?

I have wondered about how to make the words silly, ugly, friendly, lively, etc. into adverbs, so I researched in the Internet. I found many different answers, so I tried checking Oxford Dictionaries. ...
11
votes
2answers
511 views

Antonym for gormless?

I was sitting at the card table this evening looking gormless (as I am wont to do) when it occurred to me to wonder, are the other players gormful? Is there such a word? Is there such a thing as gorm, ...
10
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6answers
17k views

What's the difference between “adviser” and “advisor” — are both interchangeable?

I work for a financial services provider and we deal with "Financial Advisors" all the time. Increasingly, I'm seeing people send emails and so forth with the term "Financial Adviser" and the terms ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a good rule of thumb for plurals from words ending in “o”?

The following words and their plurals seem to be somewhat inconsistent: combo / combos concerto / concertos grotto / grottos / grottoes (?) hero / heros (?) / heroes potato / potatos (?) / potatoes ...
10
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2answers
4k views

Adjective form of “collide”—“collideable” or “collidable”?

I need to name an interface in a program I'm writing as being able to collide, but I've seen use of both collideable and collidable in projects with a similar type. Both of them look right in some ...
10
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2answers
384 views

Is “-th” still a productive suffix in English?

The main question here is whether using -(e)th to create ordinals out of cardinals1 is still considered a productive suffix in English. Is it? If so, then does it matter whether we are in a formal ...
10
votes
1answer
526 views

Is “Hissable” a well-received English word?

I posted a question about the receptivity of the word, “non-view” in “views and non-view” a few days ago. One answerer responded me that though “non-view” is not registered in any (or most) of ...
10
votes
3answers
605 views

“You are likely to [verb]” vs. “you are like to [verb]”

In a recent answer to another question, a fellow poster just used the following turn of phrase: The nearest you’re like to get is [word][.] I only ever saw and used "you’re likely to..." myself, ...
9
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2answers
37k views

Why is “happyness” spelled with a Y in the movie title “The Pursuit of Happyness”? [closed]

I just noticed that the word in the movie title The Pursuit of Happyness is spelled with a y instead of an i. But my spell checker highlights "happyness" as a mistake. Why is it spelled differently ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

What would be a a linguistic term for those nouns ending with -ing?

What would be a a linguistic term for those nouns ending with -ing? Examples: building, scaffolding, ending. What are some other examples, and what do they all share in common semantically?
9
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2answers
2k views

Usage of -ist and -ian, when to use which?

This is a question bugging me for a long long time, especially for a non-native speaker like myself. We have physicist standing for the people doing physics research, as is linguist, chemist, etc. ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of different past tenses for verbs with the same endings?

Why do we have a situation where the past of "to blow" is "blew", but of "to glow" is "glowed"? And don't say "flew" if you mean "it flowed". The poem Lovers, by Phoebe Cary has many examples of ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

When is it appropriate, if at all, to use the suffix “ish”?

When is it appropriate, if at all, to use the suffix ish? Consider the following: She was a largish woman According to Google the word largish is defined as somewhat large. However, ...
8
votes
3answers
903 views

“Golden crown” vs. “gold crown”

In case of the need to describe the color of a crown which is shown as part of an image, which is correct: a golden crown, or a gold crown? Is it important if it is made of gold or not, but the color ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

What's up with all the words ending with “-eth” in the Bible? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What happened to the “-est” and “-eth” verb suffixes in English? How were they once used? With all this rapture thing going on now, I noticed ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

What does the suffix “‑erior” mean?

The suffix ‑erior is used in many words that seem to indicate position: superior inferior anterior posterior However, with my Google-fu, I can’t find a real definition or etymology. What does ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Origin of the “-y” or “-ie” diminutive suffix to denote intimacy/tenderness? (E.g. Bob→Bobby, dad→daddy, Doug→Dougie)

Many names seem to get a "-y" or "-ie" at the end when the speaker wishes to denote a hint of familiarity, intimacy, or tenderness. Examples can be seen not just in names, but in terms like puppy, ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Why is “k” added to “panic” when suffixes added (as in “panicky”)?

When adding any suffix to the word "panic," a "k" is added after the "c". Examples: panicked, panicking, panicky. Why is this the case? Are there any other English words that do the same? I'm also ...
8
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5answers
5k views

Use of “-wise” in phrases or words

What is -wise in phrases or words that end with it? How do we use it correctly? Floor is obscenely expensive computational-wise. I found a similar thread here but I don't understand much.
8
votes
2answers
12k views

When is it correct to use the “-wise” suffix?

I found myself writing the following in a bit of technical documentation: The Trainers' and Students' clients have very little in common, both user interface-wise and code-wise. At first, I ...
8
votes
2answers
724 views

Pedlar vs. peddler

The etymonline entry for peddler reads: late 14c. (c.1300 as a surname, Will. Le Pedelare), from peoddere, peddere (c.1200, mid-12c. as a surname), of unknown origin. It has the appearance of an ...
8
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3answers
148 views

Are there any rules/patterns for selecting “ish” vs “like” as a suffix?

This question arose on a comment thread over on ELL. Are there any rules or patterns for when we should/do select "ish" as a suffix, rather than "like"? Some examples discussed were that birdlike ...