I have recently heard in a Tv show that some guy said:

He is stable-ish for now!

What does this term mean exactly? couldn't find anything, what's the occasion to use? can we use the -ish suffix for any adjective?

closed as off-topic by mplungjan, Urbycoz, Kris, tchrist, MetaEd Aug 29 '13 at 11:24

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If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    The -ish suffix can be appended to adjectives to postmodify them. This may give rise to a totally acceptable word (reddish, coolish, fairish), a word that has an obvious meaning but is not really established (stable-ish) or something more or less outlandish (wise-ish, outlandishish). It has very nearly the same effect as inserting the premodifier 'fairly' - so 'stable-ish' is a quirky alternative for 'fairly stable'. With the suffix, there is a connotation that the downtoning is a hedging afterthought. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '13 at 9:20
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    This very informal and is not at all recommended for writing. – Mitch Aug 29 '13 at 10:55
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    Wow, why all the close votes? This particular usage of '-ish' is very new so not gen ref at all. – Mitch Aug 29 '13 at 10:57
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    @Mitch: The usage is not new - this is a new example. Here's a newer one: fiendishish (though where the accepted word - non-word divide occurs for any given space-time-social grouping coordinates occurs for a particular string is obviously rather vauge). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '13 at 11:45


1) A suffix that makes any word or phrase more vague.

2) It can be used with any word and it's applied at the end to make the word into meaning "kind of".

For eg.

me = "how are you feeling today?"

you = "i am feeling okay-ish"


3) A suffix used to guesstimate a number or time. When referring to time "-ish" means within plus or minus 15 minutes. When referring to a number "-ish" means within 5.

For eg.

Guy1: What time is the party?

Guy2: 7:30-ish

Other definition:

4) suffix. used to describe an approximation, or likeness of the subject. (can be used alone as an adjective)

So, here the meaning of the stable-ish to he is okay-okay or not good not bad..

Update reference by the request of @trevorD

The term = ish

  • Are these definitions quoted from a dictionary or similar? If so, please provide links to the sources as others do and as requested in the Help info. – TrevorD Aug 29 '13 at 10:44
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    @TrevorD..I updated the reference. – Java D Aug 29 '13 at 10:48
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    Doesn't 'vauge' mean vague-ish? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '13 at 11:31
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    No. Not according to the excellent Urban Dictionary reference: vauge. spanish word for vagina. – mplungjan Aug 29 '13 at 11:33
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    Perhaps some would call UD a dictionaryish. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '13 at 11:42

It means more or less stable

dictionary.reference.com: -ish

a suffix used to form adjectives from other adjectives, with the sense of “somewhat,” “rather” ( oldish; reddish; sweetish )

You can add -ish to most anything and a (British) native speaker will understand it means more or less of what you added it to.

That goes for time: five thirty-ish; and age: She looks 40ish

In spoken English, you add a slight pause to emphasise it and you can even use the suffix on its own

"Are you OK?"
"yeah... ish"

meaning I am more or less OK

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