What is a good rule for the usage of the noun suffix -ment? Is desirement as acceptable as achievement?

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    Desire is already a noun as well as a verb. There's no need to make the noun desire into a longer noun by adding -ment, and in fact desirement is not a word. Since achieve is not already a noun, it makes sense to turn it into a noun by adding -ment. – Peter Shor Apr 15 '14 at 16:15
  • Read is a verb but not (normally) a noun, and readment doesn't exist. Neither do snorement and takement. You need to look up individual cases in a good dictionary. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '14 at 16:53

-ment is not a free suffix you can add as you like. The nouns ending in -ment are either Latin or French. And the etymology of -ment is not clear. Even the meaning of -men and -mentum is difficult to analysize. If you study the Latin nouns in -men/mentum you find that the nouns are of various types and it is not possible to give a simple idea of the formation of these words. I could give my private view, but that would take too long and I think it would hardly help you.

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    This U. Mass. source says that the suffix -ment was/is productive, though increasingly less so: "Of course, not all suffixes succeed in adapting; formerly productive suffix -ment began a gradual decline in productivity in the 17th century because five times as many competing -ation words were being borrowed into English during that century. Since -ment failed to associate itself with any meaningful subset of potential hosts, it lost out to -ation." – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '14 at 16:58
  • @Edwin Ashworth Interesting comment and thanks for the link. I wanted to dissuade the poster from forming his own words with -ment. – rogermue Apr 15 '14 at 17:06
  • Your answer may mean the U. Mass. article is using 'productive' in an unusual way; the -ation words may well be largely French imports, so increasing the English lexicon with loan-words rather than by domestic suffixation. I couldn't agree more about the unacceptableness of making one's own -ment words up, though. What confusement would result! – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '14 at 18:07
  • @Edwin Ashworth Well, I doubt that -ment is a productive suffix in normal language. But in the divers sciences there may well be new formations with -ment for new things. So I took the comment as it was. By the way, what are "hosts" of subsets? I'm not used to explanations of language with terms of the set theory. – rogermue Apr 15 '14 at 18:23
  • I've no idea. But a subset of potential hosts might have been {verbs ending in -ine and needing a related noun} = {examine, determine, predestine ...}, which -ation rather than -ment snaffled (a technical term). – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '14 at 19:47

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