Can anyone tell me if there is any research/theories/books that can tell me more about the suffix 'ish'? I am looking for any information regarding the usage of the suffix and how it was formed? Any help :) thank you! much appreciated

2 Answers 2


Yes, ish is a very flexible-ish suffix that is used to form nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and slang.

Origin: From Old English (-isc); Old Norse (-iskr); to Greek (-iskos).

As nouns: to show nationality: Turkish; to show language: English; to show profession: dervish

Verbs: cherish; flourish

Adjectives: to show like, as in "They met at five-ish." to show something has characteristics like, as in "She is a boyish girl." to show something that tends toward, as in "He is bookish."

Adverbs: as in regularly-ish: "He leaves regularly-ish."

Used in slang:

A: Are you sleepy? B: Yea, ish!

Also, if you like, please check out this link: http://web.mit.edu/ayakasug/www/Sugawara2012ish.pdf

Hope that helps.

  • Similarity between this and @user99577's answer seems to require explanation. Perhaps this was intended as an edit rather than a separate answer. Both even make the same mistake of classifying the informal stand-alone usage as nominal. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:34
  • Also, for synonym for either usage I would suggest somewhat, in the sense that OED classifies as adv. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:40
  • would you say 'ish' nowadays is being used to convey approximation? e.g. 11ish or laterish?
    – zara khan
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:43
  • @zarakhan, yes, certainly, in the former case, but not I think in the latter. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:48
  • ok thank you @BrianDonovan so if someone was to say 'it's your turn next ish' what would 'ish' be classified as there?
    – zara khan
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:52

In some cases, it can be used as a suffix meaning "like" (he is tallish), but in other cases it is used as an actual word. For example,

A: Are you sleepy? B: Yea, ish.

In sum, it is a suffix coming from Old English (-isc); and of Germanic origin, even Greek (-iskos). However, it is now also used as a noun (informally, of course,) in the States.

Hope that helps.

  • thank you for your help :) is there any evidence to suggest that 'ish' can stand alone? or how 'ish' came about to be an actual word?
    – zara khan
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:46
  • Yes, ish can stand alone. Please see the link I sent. I also wrote more info, but it was somehow deleted. Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 5:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.