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Meanings of Common Derivational Suffixes

A suffix is a letter or group of letters that come at the end of a word and have meaning. A derivational suffix is a type of suffix that creates a new word; the new word is derived from the base word, e.g., adding -er to the word teach creates a new word teacher.

Meanings of the Most Common Derivational Suffixes

The most frequently occurring derivational suffixes are as follows:

Suffix Meaning Examples
-able capable of, worthy of being lovable, learnable & fixable
-ar of or relating to beggar & liar
-en to become or cause to be weaken, sharpen & lengthen
-er comparative; more hotter, bigger & smarter
-er person connected with teacher, painter & shipper
-ess female princess, waitress & actress
-est comparative; most smartest, fastest & quickest
-ette small dinette, diskette & barrette
-ible capable of , worthy of being gullible & durable
-ful full of joyful, fearful & cheerful
-ish relating to childish, bookish & selfish
-less without; not having tireless, ageless & careless
-like resembling or characteristic of childlike, doglike & homelike
-ly resembling; similar to fatherly, scholarly & motherly
-ment action or process government, development & experiment
-ness state or quality of: condition kindness, goodness & happiness
-or person connected with doctor, actor & editor
-ship state or quality of: condition friendship, hardship & citizenship

Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

1 comment… add one
  • This is great, thank you! What about “ize”, i.e., deorderize, magnetize? Does it place emphasis on the root word (emphasize)?


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