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Is it correct English to be able to add the suffix -ee on to any verb to show the object of that verb?

Ex:

Abandonee is "one to whom something is abandoned"

Observee is "one who is observed"

I've used these in the past but what about something very obscure like one who is detected, "detectee". Are we allowed to take any verb like so and add the ending to give the verb an object?

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    I don't think you quite understand the semantics of -ee. An abandoneee would mean someone who is abandoned. An observee would indeed be someone who is observed. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:00
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    @peterShor Abandonee can mean both, dictionary.reference.com/browse/abandonee
    – deery50
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:02
  • The word is addressee, and it applies to any utterance, not just questions. Questions have a special role for the addressee (who's sposta answer the question), but they're still addressed to the addressee. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:42
  • @JohnLawler So even though some dictionaries speak otherwise, what you are saying is that the correct usage with the example above is the addressee to the abandon would be the "one to whom something is abandoned" and not the abandonee?
    – deery50
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:47
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    Ah, I see. I stuck this comment here instead of under the answer that started off with questionees. Sorry. Anyway, the suffix isn't very productive, and it doesn't always select objects; it selects absolutives, which means intransitive subject (escapee, attendee) or transitive object. And it can't go on just any verb, though you are of course free to try. Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 0:22

2 Answers 2

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We are the questionees

Yes, but not all verbs can be treated this way.

Only transitive verbs

But you are correct. If you want to refer to the object of the transitive verb with only one word, then yes, all you need to do is add -ee

update

and only with living beings

Page 381

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  • Hello - No offence but large text is a bit of a pain on some portable (and wearable) devices with very small screens. Also it does look a little bit like shouting. Could you be sparing with its use? Many thanks. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:30
  • I use it to highlight what I believe the question-er wants to read first.
    – dockeryZ
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:34
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    It's an interesting non-linear technique but the usual procedure is to put the words you want people to read first at the beginning, the words you want them to read next in the middle and the words you want them to read last at the end. ;-) Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 0:32
  • meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/3408/…
    – dockeryZ
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 0:35
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The answer is No.

Firstly I think your surmise is too general. Only sentient beings can have that suffix. We wouldn't say that a nail is a hammeree.

The suffix 'ee' comes from French. Initially only adopted French words used it, e.g.

fiancée (fr.) becomes fiancee (eng.)

The usage has spread but I think there's a limit. For example take the English verb "to boot". I don't think we would call someone who got booted, a 'bootee'.

bootee

  1. a baby's soft woollen shoe.
  2. a woman's short boot.

Google Dictionary

Also some words, particularly those of a German origin simply sound ridiculous if "ee" is added, e.g.

We don't seriously say that someone who has been kicked is a kickee.

EDIT

Ugh! I see that some online dictionaries do indeed have 'kickee'. I'm quite disgusted at this barbarism but there you are.

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  • What if you were booting up a computer? Then wouldn't the computer be the bootee or is that incorrect English? Kickee may sound weird but my question relates to rather it is correct English, weird or not.
    – deery50
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:19
  • "wouldn't the computer be the bootee" All I can say is that I sincerely hope that usage never takes hold. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:25
  • It would most definitely be the bootee. It's just a language hack really, it can keep you from talking too long; and when people do use it, they typically use it with a questionable stress on the ee. Almost as if they are unsure whether the word is correct.
    – dockeryZ
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:29
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    No, the computer would not be the bootee any more than a football would be the kickee or a tennis ball the hitee or a cookie the dunkee. If you were trying to be humorous, you could call a person that you kicked, or hit, or dunked by the above words, but in that case, whether you succeeded in being funny or merely weird would depend on your delivery.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 23:36
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    @dockeryZ - but you have now contradicted yourself. If you agree that the object must be living, how do you justify a computer being a bootee? Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 0:05

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