I found a word ‘Yes-ish’ in the answer (from PLL) to my question about the meaning of ‘Stuck to the script’ I posted today. As it is quite new to my ear, I consulted with Wikipedia before logging out the forum, which says: (Yesih) is yes with a condition or limitation, and similarly Noish (but this of course tends more to a ....

Is ‘Yes-sh / Yessh’ often heard in day-to-day conversation among American people or found in casual writings. How ‘Yes-sh’ is different from ‘Yes’ in its implication, supposing it’s an informal or colloquial expression.

3 Answers 3


'ish' is added to some words to denote 'sort of'. For example:

He was tall-ish

Means he was tall, but not extremely so. Taller than average, but not basketball-player tall.

I'm tired-ish

Means you're a little tired but not totally 'knackered' (a bit of British slang there).

Generally '-ish' is considered informal; slightly slang-ish!

You perhaps wouldn't use it in formal situations like a business meeting. It's not considered rude, it's just something you'd use in more relaxed settings.

This reminds me of a joke by a British comedian called Jimmy Carr

Catholics have a confirmation where someone says, "You are definitely Catholic". Jews are never sure: they say "Well, I'm Jew-ish".

Here the comedian has made a 'play on words' and used the 'sort of' meaning of -ish as opposed to that seen in Jewish, English etc.

  • That was Jonathan Miller's line in Beyond the Fringe: "I'm not really a Jew: just Jew-ish, not the whole hog" Jun 16, 2011 at 20:57

The definition for -ish is

suffix forming adjectives:
1. (from nouns) having the qualities or characteristics of: apish, girlish.
• of nationality or religious or ethnic group: Swedish , Amish, Flemish.
2. (from adjectives) somewhat: yellowish.
• informal denoting an approximate age or time of day: sixish.

I think that yes-ish can be understood as somewhat yes, even yes is not an adjective and -ish is not used to form an adjective.

  • So Yessh means 'I feel like saying 'Yes,' 'I can (tend to) agree with you,' though it's not 120% approval of the other's proposition? Jan 28, 2011 at 8:13
  • 3
    It means that is not a 100% yes, but it's not a no either. For how I understand it, it's closer to yes than to no.
    – apaderno
    Jan 28, 2011 at 8:16
  • Ish in this use means "sort of". So yes-ish might mean someting like "yes, but not completely" or "yes, but not exactly".
    – Carmi
    Jan 28, 2011 at 9:13
  • This reminds me of the German jein, a — dare I say itportmanteau of ja (yes) + nein (no), though it's kind of 50/50.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 28, 2011 at 16:44
  • 1
    And the Brit-ish have the knights that say NI!
    – mplungjan
    Mar 31, 2011 at 21:14

I don't know if I have ever heard the term "Yes-ish" in actual conversation, and I've certainly never read it. That being said, as a native (American) English speaker, I would know what someone meant if they said "Yes-ish".

"-ish" can be added intelligibly to a number of words (primarily adjectives), but it is not generally done. When I choose to use "-ish" in conversation, it's generally an attempt at humor. In most cases, you would just use a modifier, e.g., "I am pretty sure" instead of "I am sure-ish".

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