What is -wise in phrases or words that end with it? How do we use it correctly?

Floor is obscenely expensive computational-wise.

I found a similar thread here but I don't understand much.

  • Bonus points: Someone explain where the word "piecewise", as in a function that isn't continuous at all points, comes from. – Jeremy Aug 27 '11 at 1:57
  • The simple way to express "in words that end with it" is "as a suffix"; and it's usual to indicate suffixes in discussion with a leading hyphen, thus "What is the meaning of the suffix '-wise'?" – Karl Knechtel Aug 27 '11 at 7:09

The question you referred to in yours gives more usage notes on when you should use the "-wise" suffix, but not so much in terms of what it means. In this case, "wise" is supposed to serve as a suffix which means:

with reference to: profitwise ; businesswise

The example you quoted would be less ambiguous if they had used "computation-wise". (Computational-wise seems ungrammatical to me). That is, the sentence is saying that:

Floor is obscenely expensive [in terms of] computation


Floor is obscenely expensive computationally

  • Except in the case of the original of this kind clockwise (and anti-clockwise), and though wise tends to be extensively used as a suffix, excessive use of it is generally not well regarded as good - meaning elegant - English, among the likes of the liberal arts intelligentsia. At least that's the case in Britain. – WS2 Dec 30 '16 at 23:08

To quote a different source from the cited question, I'll use Dictionary.com:

a suffixal use of wise - in adverbs denoting manner, position, direction, reference, etc.: counterclockwise; edgewise; marketwise; timewise.

To simplify this definition, you can think of -wise as "in the direction of", "in the manner of" or "with regard to", depending on the situation.

The sentence you provided falls obviously in the third case.

  • I used Dictionary.com too, just a more to-the-point definition – simchona Aug 26 '11 at 22:24
  • @simchona: Yep, I was writing while you posted your answer and didn't see. Anyway, my "different source" was regarding this answer related to the link provided by the OP. – Gurzo Aug 26 '11 at 22:27
  • @Gurzo-Ah, I see. Sorry about that! – simchona Aug 26 '11 at 22:28

Clockwise means in relation to a clock.

Floor is obscenely expensive computational wise.

It's not a very well written sentence, but it means the "floor" operation is obscenely expensive in relation to computation.

  • 1
    I think a better definition of clockwise is 'the direction that the hands of an analog clock move.' Often generalized to movement to the right. This also helps to explain counter-clockwise = move in the opposite direction to clockwise, or generally move to the left. – mkennedy Aug 27 '11 at 21:53
  • Yes, that's a good general definition but doesn't really explain the -wise suffix. – Hugo Aug 28 '11 at 5:28

"by means of" or "in the manner of" or "via".

A piecewise function is one that is analyzed piecewise, i.e., in pieces, because its discontinuities prevent analysis as a whole.

I would not accept "computational-wise" as grammatical; "computation-wise" would be the expected form, but it would be simpler and more idiomatic to just say "computationally".


-wise is a prefix used to:

  • form adjectives or adverbs meaning "(that is) in the manner, form, or direction of"
  • form adverbs meaning "as regards, in terms of"

Computational-wise means "in terms of computation."

protected by tchrist Oct 23 '16 at 3:29

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