How do you find a word that derives or is derived from a given word with a different part of speech? Any book or website?

For example, penitent is the adjective of noun penitence with the derivative relationship. I think nouns penitence and penance are synonym. I was wondering what the adjective for penance with the derivative relationship is ?


  • I'm not sure you can say one is derived from another. They all come from a common Latin root.
    – ralph.m
    Jun 10, 2023 at 4:57
  • Surely "a dictionary" would be the obvious answer. Perhaps you could explain why dictionaries are not suitable for this.
    – James K
    Jun 10, 2023 at 7:11
  • @JamesK can you explain which dictionary?
    – Tim
    Jun 10, 2023 at 7:31
  • They are not synonyms. You do penance because you feel penitence for something you have done wrong. Jun 10, 2023 at 8:00
  • 1
    Any dictionary. You want to find words that are derived from "penitent" so you look in the dictionary at the page with penitent on it and right next to it is the word "penitence". Dictionary.com lists "nearby words", so this is often possible with an online dictionary as well as a paper one.
    – James K
    Jun 10, 2023 at 10:39

1 Answer 1


Generally English words in other parts of speech can be formed by adding suffixes to words. For example the -er suffix can be added to many (not all) verbs to produce an agent noun. Build -> Builder, for example.

Sometimes the suffix is changed for example lenient <--> lenience. Many (but not all) adjectives ending in -ient have a related noun ending in -ience.

You can check if a particular word has has any words that can be formed from it by adding a suffix by checking a dictionary. For example looking in a dictionary at "build", the next two words are "buildable" and "builder" (I'm using Cambridge dictionary, but any would do) And these are indeed two words that have been formed from "build" by adding suffixes.

Various websites have lists of suffixes. For example https://www.learnthat.org/pages/view/suffix.html. But be careful as not every combination of a word+suffix is natural English, or has the expected meaning. For example "patience" has a predictable related adjective "patient", but that adjective is also used as a noun (meaning a person receiving medical treatment), with a meaning that you wouldn't predict.

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