Is "or" in the word "doctor" a suffix like "or"s in "inventor" or "actor", or not?

I've seen some people taking an example of "doctor" to explain the suffix "-or".

If it should be a suffix, "doct" should be able to be used alone,

but I've never learned or seen "doct" used alone anywhere including dictionaries (except for Urban Dictionary).

I'm so curious. Anyone please tell me. Thank you.

  • 1
    Interesting ... never thought of that. An "inventor" is someone who invents, and an "actor" is some who acts, but "doct" is not a verb in English, so that would be a very unusual example. – mc01 Jun 29 '18 at 6:14

It is a suffix, but the word it is being added to is not English.

Doctor is a borrowing from Latin (via French) doctor in Latin is an agent noun from the verb docere meaning "to teach". In Latin, "doctor" means "teacher" (compare indoctrinate). Another example is motor, from Latin for "mover". The other cases of "-or" are either borrowing of Latin words, or a spelling of -er that has been influenced by Latin.

Now a suffix is not always added to a *word", sometimes it is added to a "stem" For example "astronomer" has the -er suffix added to the stem "astronom-" (from which we also get astronomy).

Sometimes there are sound and spelling and meaning changes. From "solve" we get solution. But the "v" has become a "u", and the meaning has widened. (We can talk a solution of salt in water), and not everything that looks like a suffix is one. Consider "finger".

So you can't always remove a suffix and get a word.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.