My word is for postfixes (they call them suffixes) forming adjectives, very often I face missing English counterparts speaking of rich in adjectives (they are formed easily with almost no snobbish overhead i.e. 'censorship') Bulgarian language.

One of my wishes is to have all such postfixes in order to ease getting the whole picture while offering some useful statistical 'guidance'. Thus the brevity (one word) would be more expressive as well, not to mention the ?ringiness?. For example, very often I struggle to find the English counterparts (both noun and adjective ones) to 'zvutchen/zvutchnost' and I use non-established 'ringy/ringiness' after the notion of: have a ring to it - if a word or idea has a ring to it, it sounds interesting or attractive

Please, share with me/us a book or an Internet page dealing exhaustively with 'adjective forming'. I found a good Internet resource (http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/adj-forms.html) on this theme, but it doesn't exhaust the matter, I need as full as possible list of those postfixes!

Good leads to good, one beautiful unknown to me word popped up there: Adjectivalization – in linguistics, the forming of words from other categories , nouns and verbs, by suffixation. (Huddleston 1706).

Shown forms:

-AL relating to

-ARY relating to quality or place

-FUL full of

-IC having the nature of; caused by

-ICAL having the nature of

-ISH origin, nature

-LESS without

-LIKE like

-LY like

-OUS quality, nature

-Y like

On a '-Y' note, in many TV series I hear marginal (almost invalid) coinages as 'sciency' (stands for science+Y) encountered in 'Stargate Atlantis', there the military guy said 'This guy doesn't look sciency to me.' referring to one who pretended to be from scientific community.

My add-on includes:

-AN e.g. BulgariAN, NewtoniAN

-ESQUE e.g. Hollywoodesque

-ID e.g. demonoID

-AR e.g. lineAR

-ORY e.g. derogatORY

-ESE e.g. tabloidESE - (neologism, chiefly literature) The writing style of tabloid journalism.

-ESE e.g. DublinESE - The dialect spoken in Dublin.

For some reason Wiktionary omitted the adjectival usage, they define the above two as nouns only!?

We have 'NewtoniAN' while 'NewtonESQUE' is kinda marginal but still has its place.

Also we have 'HitleriAN' and 'HitlerESQUE', however it is difficult for me to discern, they appear fully interchangeable to me.

In Russian and Bulgarian '-ESQUE' counterpart is '-SKI', these forms are widely used, for above pair the second dominates, namely 'Гитлеровская/Хитлеристка'.

English Wiktionary says for first: Of, relating to, or resembling Hitler (the German chancellor) or his actions.

English Wiktionary says for second: "Reminiscent of Adolf Hitler."

Ha, one adjective eludes me, how to form a/the adjectival form of tweet/twitter? First being the object second being the subject, what are the well coined variants!

What else adjectivalizationAL forms are missing from above list?!

Oh, just looked up for 'blackadder' adjective:

"A striking vision of artistic compromise, personal sacrifice and political brutality, rendered in what is often a somewhat Blackadderish style."– Evening Standard

"In any case, the narrative of this novel blisters along with a Blackadderish cunning." /'Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf' book/

"It's recognisably Blackadderish in its approach to history, silly and inventive and with a good line in visual gags."– independent.co.uk

"Is Roland Emmerich's Blackadderish romp about the real author of Shakespeare's plays also a piece of post-structuralist genius?"– theguardian.com

It turns out that British newspapers use it to/for a good measure.

Also, couldn't resist not to look into Google Books corpus (2013 edition) featuring 7,477,257 distinct words: [&blackadder&] 0,000,046 blackadder /Google_Books_corpus_version_20130501_English_All_Nodes.txt.rip1gram.txt.sorted/ [&blackadder&] 0,000,008 blackadders /Google_Books_corpus_version_20130501_English_All_Nodes.txt.rip1gram.txt.sorted/

Confusing, such richness (3.5 million English books, 345 billion words corpus spanning a 200+ years period) and lacking the beautiful 'Blackadderish'.

To summarize, which (grammar) books/resources explaining the suffixes to their fullest you can recommend?

Add-on, 2018-Jun-25:

Scary, 3 years and 5 months passed already!

Yet, my obsession remains, glad to share my latest Suffixes-Showdown-Booklet in PDF, 2 pages long and 322 suffixes strong:


Hope, the feedback (both destructive and constructive) from StackExchange community will help in refining it!

  • Asking for a possibly infinite list is not something we allow here, so I have removed it from the question.
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 14:59
  • @MattЭллен Didn't get you. >What else adjectivalizationAL forms are missing from above list?! With above question (deleted now) I asked for more suffixes that I am unaware of, what do you mean by infinite list? Aren't they few dozens at max?!
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:09
  • Even a few dozen is too many. But I believe that it's possible to make suffixes from parts of words. Such suffixes are not currently recorded in dictionaries, but would be plausible in spoken English. It is possible that a comprehensive list of suffixes that would be found in dictionaries would be useful at English Language Learners but not here.
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:58
  • What you ask would not solve the multitudinous single word requests in the related column. They are not looking to understand suffixes, they want a word for a particular porpoise. Would you be satisfied if I migrated the question to ELL (with the part I took out reinstated)?
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 19:49
  • The quote "Adjectivalization – in linguistics, the forming of words from other categories, nouns and verbs, by suffixation. (Huddleston 1706)" is questionable on two counts. First, calling such forming "adjectivalization" sounds dubious. Second, what is "Huddleston 1706"? Who is this Huddleston? I know of Rodney Huddleston who is one of the authors of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), but I don't know of a linguist named Huddleston who live in 1706. Maybe they meant page 1706, but they should've written it as "Huddleston 2002, p. 1706" or something similar. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 22:07

3 Answers 3


This isn't an exhaustive list, but let me give it the old college try. In english, the following suffixes are considered adjective-forming:

Relational Family

All the members of this family mean of or pertaining to. Some have a different scope than others.

  • -al (Fungal, Cranial)
  • -an/-ian/-n (Roman, American, Historian)
  • -ar (Scalar, Modular)
  • -ic (Acidic, Idyllic)
  • -id (Perseid)
  • -ese/-ish :: of or pertaining to characteristics of a location, its people, and the language they use (Japanese, Maltese, British, English, Irish)
  • -ish/-y :: somewhat, about or approximately when used with numbers, typical or similar to (Sciencey, Girlish, Tennish, Twentyish)
  • -ous/-ious/-atous (Bulbous, Courageous)
  • -otic (Eukaryotic, Symbiotic)

Of Similar Form To, But Not the Same As

  • -oid (Humanoid, Alkaloid)
  • -like (Lifelike, Childlike)


  • -th :: ordinal (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth)
  • Thanks, wanted to vote up but no enough rep points, grmbl. From my standpoint, your list adds two more postfixes -TH, -LIKE. To me -*OUS are all the same since my search will be anyway for *ous. To me each and every postfix is dear, it opens the possibility for easy enriching of one particular wordlist with words (with specific postfix) from another wordlist. For example I made 74 pages with new words in this way, the second wordlist was MW dictionary with its built-in wildcard search. How about -AD, -PLE, -WISE as in monAD, triPLE, speedWISE? I wonder how many left unlisted!
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:41
  • Recently I asked -AD, -PLE related question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/222154/… I am fond of such numerals, how much more expressive is to start a sentence with: Hexadecad-threaded tool is in use. instead of 16-threaded tool is in use., yes? Somehow starting a sentence with a number is not right in my eyes.
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:51
  • Just saw your profile, in case of you being interested in biggest known to me English wordlist you can see my compilation called called 'Goyathlay' featuring 656,563 distinct words at: forum.thefreedictionary.com/profile696240.aspx
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:57
  • The suffix -wise turns words into adverbs. The suffix -ad turns words into nouns. And while the suffix -ple can be used on adjectives, it doesn't form adjectives from other words. I was simply doing as OP asked and listing only the adjective-forming suffixes. Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 20:39
  • What about MW, Main Entry: battlewise Function:adjective : having knowledge of or experience in battle battlewise troops; Main Entry: monad Function:adjective : of the nature of a monad; Also monadIC; Also monadAL; Also monadICAL
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 20:55
  • -ed (the past tense of a verb can usually be used as an adjective.)

  • -ible (use with words that you can add -ion to.) For example: combustion -> combustible.

  • -able (use with words that you cannot add -ion to, such as words that you can add -ation to.) For example: find -> findable, commiserate -> miserable.

  • -ile (Only use with words that you can add -ion to.) For example: projection -> projectile.

  • -ive (Only use with words that you can add -ion to.) For example: motion -> motive.

  • -ative (Only use with words that you can add -ation to.) For example: formation -> formative.

  • Thank you Jasper, your needy add-ons will reinforce my postfix searches. How did I miss such major ones as -ible/-able/-ile! abaxile germanophile (noun/adjective) glissile senile
    – Georgi
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 21:44
  • Also -ive, as in abrasive. Also -able, as in abominable. Your add-on is much appreciated!
    – Georgi
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 21:50

-ID e.g. demonoID is wrong, and should be -OID. HumanOID, FelinOID, DemonOID. ...for that matter, it may need to be -nOID -- i.e., I can't think of a time to use -oid without an N-sound in the word before it (minus any silent E). Feline, felinoid. Human, humanoid.

  • Thanks, 'felinoid' - I like that. You see, having those suffixes along with extensive (exhaustive is the neverending goal) adjectival list is the whole point, my needs are far greater than one 'normal' user would ... use. The goal is to have them beforehand not when the time is short and usually the user starts asking "Where is that manual/list now?" I am doing my best to put all English words under one roof and then to apply some wildcard filters in order to screen the sought words.
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:02
  • As for the silent 'E', I made a search for *OID into wordlist worth 350,000+ words, there are: acalephoid, android, adamantoid, ameboid, zomboid...
    – Georgi
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:02
  • ...I had forgotten android wasn't its own word. (Thanks, Star Wars! I didn't remember these were the 'droids I was looking for!) So yeah, -OID in general.
    – A.Beth
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 19:19
  • Then there's Alkaloid (base-like), Asteroid (star-like), Cardioid (heart-like), Ovoid (egg-like), etc... Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 20:43
  • ...I cannot believe I forgot all these. Obviously whatever was in my head was only brainoid and not an actual brain. >_>
    – A.Beth
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 22:54

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