What does the -ment add to the word command that command doesn't already have? A command is something that is being obliged to be done or something like that, something that you follow. Likewise, a commandment is a divine command. I am working on a fantasy language and wondering how this word works, what does -ment add to it?

Command is a verb and a noun too, and commandment is a noun as well, so I can't yet pinpoint the difference.

  • Commandments are listed; e.g., the Ten Commandments, not the One Commandment. There's not just one; that never happens: Love one another. Just live in peace then. Stop slapping, in general… Quit taking each other's stuff!! The suffix -ment makes something concrete, among other things, or written in stone as it were. Commented May 2 at 10:00
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    My guess: in 1610 the boundary between verb-words and noun-words was harder; and of course the translators were aiming for formality and archaism. Commented May 3 at 4:12
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    On a tangential note, I have noticed (in business writing in the U.S.) an upsurge in use of advancement in situations where, ten years ago, advance would almost certainly have appeared instead. For example: "it [generative AI] is not only a technological advancement; it can catalyze profound transformation across the value chain."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jun 3 at 5:50

2 Answers 2


Per the Middle English Dictionary:

commandment meaning "an order, command" (from Old French) appears in English texts in the early 13th century; its meanings "established rule, divine precept" begin to appear in English texts in the late 14th century; the shortened form command (order, command) doesn't appear until the early 15th century.

So you could rephrase the question as "What did removing the -ment suffix do?"

  • 'The shortened form' and 'removing the -ment' imply that it was a development within English, while Etymon states that it was a separate import. Commented Jun 1 at 18:41
  • @EdwinAshworth The commandment form of the noun is attested in late 13th c. Middle English. That second borrowing, command, in the early 15th c, resulting in a new Middle English noun derived from an Old French verb, and for a word that had already existed for 200 years, to boot, is very puzzling.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 1 at 23:10
  • There has always been complex intermingling of languages between close neighbours. Who can guarantee that Etymon has it right. (rhetorical full stop) Commented Jun 1 at 23:16

Commandment derives from Latin commandamentum via Old French comandement. The suffix -ment was common in Latin to derive nouns from verbal roots. Note that the meaning is different from command.

common suffix of Latin origin forming nouns, originally from French and representing Latin -mentum, which was added to verb stems to make nouns indicating the result or product of the action of the verb or the means or instrument of the action.

In Vulgar Latin and Old French it came to be used as a formative in nouns of action. French inserts an -e- between the verbal root and the suffix (as in commenc-e-ment from commenc-er; with verbs in ir, -i- is inserted instead (as in sent-i-ment from sentir).


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    How is the meaning of commandment different from the noun command?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented May 2 at 8:20
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    Commandment has the implication of something more permanent, while a command could be a one-time thing, but there's a lot of overlap of meaning. Regardless, you should explain, not just say "the meaning is different from command" with no references or evidence.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 2 at 8:27

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