There's bunch of words with -en form of word like height-heighten, bright-brighten and others, but weight-weighten aren't valid pair. Is there any reasons, why is it like that? Is there any rule for that kind of morphology?

  • 1
    English is a living language; it evolves. Wiktionary actually lists 'weighten', but I'd wait until it's known whether OED has accepted it before claiming it as a word. It may have been slow in becoming accepted (assuming it is accepted) because 'weight' is already used as a verb. No doubt someone will soon ask "Why has 'weighten' been accepted as a word when the verb 'weight' is already in use?" Feb 28, 2020 at 15:09
  • You say: "Is there any consistent rule for that kind of morphology?". It may help you to know that there are no consistent rules in English. :) Sight - to sighten; and fight - to fighten do not work either.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:28
  • @Greybeard yeah, you're right, updated question a bit about consistensy.
    – Sugar
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:31
  • @Greybeard fight is verb i.e. some action, and sight is noun for some "action ability", but height, brightness and weight are properties someone can "enlarge" in a sense. So I basically speak about that kind property words
    – Sugar
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


These "gh" spellings have germanic roots and come down to us from our Anglo-Saxon heritage. A common conversion from noun to verb is to add -en. so we have long, length and lengthen (make longer); strong, strength and strengthen; fear, fright and frighten. And so on. As Edwin Ashworth says, that does not mean that all such possibilities have been used. But many have: cheap to cheapen; stiff to stiffen; straight to straighten. Some just have not caught on, probably because not really needed. The verb weigh, for example, is already a verb, so why would we need a verb meaning make heavier? We often want to make things lighter, and, lo and behold, we have the verb lighten. The only non-germanic word that allows this treatment is to christen. Otherwise, stick to the Anglo-Saxon monosyllables.

If you really feel you need a verb for making something heavier, other than weight it down (more). There already exists the verb to weight.

If you think that the right word does not exist for you, you can coin a neologism, provided you are sure its meaning will be obvious enough, and signal what you are doing by placing it within single inverted commas.

  • The verb weigh, for example, is already a verb, so why would we need a verb meaning make heavier? We have one: "I weighted the sack with stones to serve as an anchor."
    – Greybeard
    Feb 28, 2020 at 16:22
  • @Greybeard Just so.
    – Tuffy
    Feb 28, 2020 at 16:46
  • @Greybeard I suspect it's also something to do with the other words available for the same idea (burden, emburden, encumber etc etc). Feb 28, 2020 at 19:11

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