What would the suffix of the following words be known as, if anything? I have seen a pattern and am wanting to see if what I am seeing has any actual merit and history, or if this is just me overthinking. :)

  • History - Historical
  • Grammar - Grammatical
  • Metaphor - Metaphorical
  • Constitution - Constitutional
  • Botany - Botanical

I have seen definitions stating, "related to, or characterized by" which I like but the definition I thought of would be along the lines of, "of a type of" or, "having the nature of".

My reason for asking this is that some time back it struck me that "epiphanamatical" might well be a proper modification for "epiphany", presuming that the pattern I observed is, in fact, valid.




  • Your 'definition' for the suffix/suffices certainly doesn't cover 'botanical'. You need the broader 'definition' 'related to' (and doubtless there are examples matching 'required by'. Assuming you meant OED rather than OEM before you deleted that part of your post, their selection policy is very demanding, and suggesting DIY candidates isn't going to impress them. One can't assume absolute productiveness (ie that patterns can be extended at will) in English. And DIY candidate neologisms are off-topic on ELU. Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 15:11
  • Please include the research you’ve done. Here, that would include checking whether your candidate appears on the internet at all. One doesn't invent words; candidates have to be vetted (and not by ELU). Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 15:16
  • 1
    I'm not aware a particular name for -ical suffixes. It's certainly a productive way of forming adjectives from nouns, sometimes called 'adjectivalisation', though that term applies to many other suffixes that can do that too.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 15:26
  • Edwin, right, thanks for the OEM v OED correction. It must be my stupid fingers again. :) One of the reasons I removed the text was that, after a bit of consideration, I thought it quite presumptuous of myself to even go there. Which, of course, leads immediately to your second comment which I take an extremely mild 'scolding' but with the only desire being that of 'lifting up. Appreciated very much. With respect to whether or not I did search for the word; yes, I did. And, I found nothing. BillJ - Thank you kindly.
    – Doug Dodge
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


It's a derivational suffix; there's no special name for it, but it usually is called "-ic/-ical" because both forms occur, arbitrarily.

From another answer:

The -ic/-ical derivational suffix, which derives an overt adjective from a noun (or from something else; it's a sloppy affix), appears mostly with -ic (10,903 words), but also often with -ical (2,619 words).

Most (but not all) of the -ical words appear also in the -ic list. And there isn't much, if indeed any, systematic pattern visible to me from a desultory inspection of the isolated word lists. But maybe there is one. Anyway, there they are; data is always preferable to speculation.

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