a suffix forming adjectives that have the general sense “possessing, full of” a given quality (covetous; glorious; nervous; wondrous ); -ous, and its variant -ious, have often been used to Anglicize Latin adjectives with terminations that cannot be directly adapted into English (atrocious; contiguous; garrulous; obvious; stupendous ). As an adjective-forming suffix of neutral value, it regularly Anglicizes Greek and Latin adjectives derived without suffix from nouns and verbs; many such formations are productive combining forms in English, sometimes with a corresponding nominal combining form that has no suffix; Compare -fer, -ferous; -phore, -phorous; -pter, -pterous; -vore, -vorous.
a suffix forming adjectival correspondents to the names of chemical elements; specialized, in opposition to like adjectives ending in -ic, to mean the lower of two possible valences (stannous chloride, SnCl 2 , and stannic chloride SnCl 4 ).

Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin -ōsus; a doublet of -ose1

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World English Dictionary
suffix forming adjectives
1.  having, full of, or characterized by: dangerous; spacious; languorous
2.  Compare -ic (in chemistry) indicating that an element is chemically combined in the lower of two possible valency states: ferrous; stannous
[from Old French, from Latin -ōsus or -us, Greek -os, adj suffixes]

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Word Origin & History

suffix forming adjectives from nouns, meaning "having, full of, having to do with, doing, inclined to," from O.Fr. -ous, -eux, from L. -osus.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

-ous suff.

  1. Possessing; full of; characterized by: filamentous.

  2. Having a valence lower than that of a specified element in compounds or ions named with adjectives ending in -ic: ferrous.

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