Random Ramblings: The Suffix “-ish”

Lately I’ve been using the suffix “-ish” to modify an adjective quite often.  It’s one of those things that quietly took over my vocabulary; I’m pretty certain that a few years back, I may have used it a couple of times a year, if at all, while these days I drop it several times a day.   When I said the word “earlyish” today, it started me thinking: Why am I so obsessed with this suffix?

At first, I was certain that it wasn’t a proper suffix like “-ing,” but rather a slang term that just appeared among modern use and took off like the appearance of “friend” as a verb after the arrival of Facebook.  However, a quick search at Dictionary.com proved me wrong:

-ish

1. a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, with the sense of “belonging to” ( British; Danish; English; Spanish); “after the manner of,” “having the characteristics of,” “like” ( babyish; girlish; mulish); “addicted to,” “inclined or tending to” ( bookish; freakish); “near or about” ( fiftyish; sevenish).

2. a suffix used to form adjectives from other adjectives, with the sense of “somewhat,” “rather” ( oldish; reddish; sweetish).

Apparently, it’s derived from the Old and Middle English (originally spelled “-isc”), and has similar synonyms in German and Greek.  So it’s not only a proper suffix, it’s ancient!  (Also, I forgot that “-ish” is used to denote where someone is from, for example, Scottish.  Embarrassing.)

So there was my mini-vocab lesson of the day!  I’m sure that “-ish” will continue to be my favorite suffix for a longish time to come.  😉

What’s your favorite suffix?

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2 thoughts on “Random Ramblings: The Suffix “-ish”

  1. I was thinking about this today when I reread a post before publishing and wondered about my use of ‘-ish’. My favourite is ‘-ous’ because it is in so many awesome words- dangerous, thunderous, suspicious to name a few.

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