Word Traveler: Put an end to words

This feature is for all word lovers as well as those studying for the SAT and seeking to learn new vocabulary.

Learning about basic endings - suffixes - can help you to define and remember many different words. A more complete list can be found at the link below but here is some information about common ones that may be helpful to you.

The suffixes -able and -ible form adjectives from verbs and nouns and change the meaning of the base word to "capable of, worthy of," but also "fit to," "worthy," or "apt to," or "subject to being (verb)ed." The suffix -able is used most often and may be added to virtually any verb. Examples with this suffix are: admittable, changeable, improvable, preventable. In contrast, -ible is now "dead" as a combining form in English (meaning new adjectives are not being formed with the suffix -ible) but a long list of words still retain the suffix, such as: accessible, admissible, collapsible, credible, digestible.

The ending -ate means "to make" and you will find this added to verbs to make words like renovate ("make again") and placate ("make peaceful or calm"). There are some other suffixes that mean "to make" such as -ify (beautify), -efy (liquefy), -fy (classify), -ize (realize), -en (quicken), and -ish (banish).

The suffix -cede creates the meaning "to go, to yield" so that when you precede, you "go before" and when your hairline recedes it "goes backward."

There are diminutive suffixes that indicate something is smaller than a larger version of a similar thing. You are familiar with -ette that creates cigarette ("little cigar"), dinette ("small dining table"), and even barrette ("small barre"). Other diminutive suffixes are: -let as in hamlet and -illo as in peccadillo -- as well as -cle, -cule, -ee, -el, -en, -et, -ie, -isk, -kin, -le, -let, -ling, -ock, -ot, -ule, -y.

When you add -ous to a noun, it makes an adjective with the meaning "full of, very full of, having the properties of" as amorous, capacious, and stuporous. Other suffixes that make adjectives carrying this meaning are -ate, -ful, -lent, -ose, -some, -y.

You can see how suffixes, along with prefixes and roots, are important ingredients for a great vocabulary. To learn more, please visit Dictionary.com's guide to suffixes, located in our Word FAQs section.

And here is Dictionary.com's guide to prefixes and combining forms.







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