suffix

1 of 2

noun

suf·​fix ˈsə-fiks How to pronounce suffix (audio)
: an affix occurring at the end of a word, base, or phrase compare prefix
suffixal
ˈsə-fik-səl How to pronounce suffix (audio)
(ˌ)sə-ˈfik-səl
adjective

suffix

2 of 2

verb

suf·​fix ˈsə-fiks How to pronounce suffix (audio)
(ˌ)sə-ˈfiks
suffixed; suffixing; suffixes

transitive verb

: to attach as a suffix
suffixation noun

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What are prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms?

Prefixes and suffixes are both kinds of affixes. That is, they are word parts that attach to the beginning or end of a word or word base (a word stripped down to its simplest form) to produce a related word or an inflectional form of a word. Examples are in- in informal and both re- and -ing in reporting.

A third kind of affix is called an infix. Infixes are inserted into a word or word base. English uses very few infixes, but a couple examples are the plural-making s in words like cupsful and passersby, and various swear words, like damn in informal constructions like guaran-damn-tee.

A combining form is a form of a word that only appears as part of another word. There are a number of kinds of combining forms, each classified by what kind of word results when the form is used. For example, -wise in clockwise is an adverb combining form; -like in birdlike is an adjective combining form; -graph in photograph is a noun combining form; and -lyze in electrolyze is a verb combining form.

Combining forms are similar to affixes but can have a bit more lexical substance to them. Unlike affixes, combining forms are substantial enough to form a word simply by connecting to an affix, such as when the combining form cephal- joins with the suffix -ic to form cephalic. A combining form can also differ from an affix in its being derived from an independent word. For example, para- is a combining form in the word paratrooper because in that word it represents the word parachute. Para- is a prefix, however, in the words paranormal and paramedic. A combining form can also be distinguished historically from an affix by the fact that it is borrowed from another language in which it is descriptively a word or a combining form, such as the French mal giving English the mal- in malfunction.

Examples of suffix in a Sentence

Noun The adjective “smokeless” is formed by adding the suffix “-less” to the noun “smoke.” The adverb “sadly” is formed by adding the suffix “-ly” to the adjective “sad.”
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The main criticism is that the approach relies mostly on vocabulary and ignores word sounds and structures, such as the stems, prefixes and suffixes that make up a word. Kurt Kleiner, Discover Magazine, 16 Feb. 2024 In that time, all sorts of new domain suffixes have popped up, from .ly to the more controversial .sucks. Chris Morris, Fortune, 1 Nov. 2023 First, the researchers were able to find adversarial suffixes that can be appended to almost any prompt. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, 2 Aug. 2023 Third, there is nothing special about the particular adversarial suffixes the researchers used. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, 2 Aug. 2023 The companies that make the chatbots could thwart the specific suffixes identified by the researchers. Cade Metz, New York Times, 27 July 2023 The tii suffix on this 1974 2002 indicates further zip under the hood, thanks to Kugelfisher mechanical fuel injection. Brendan McAleer, Car and Driver, 26 Aug. 2023 But what piqued my interest in the suffix was the many weirder and more humorous iterations that have recently been enlivening everyday speech on the Internet, which, after all, is where a great proportion of everyday speech now lives. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 17 Aug. 2023 Second, the researchers found that the adversarial suffixes are frequently transferable. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, 2 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suffix.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

borrowed from New Latin suffīxum, noun derivative from neuter of Latin suffīxus, past participle of suffīgere "to fasten from below, attach to the top of," from suf-, assimilated form of sub- sub- + fīgere "to drive in, insert, fasten" — more at fix entry 1

Verb

derivative of suffix entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

1720, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1778, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of suffix was in 1720

Dictionary Entries Near suffix

Cite this Entry

“Suffix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suffix. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

suffix

1 of 2 noun
suf·​fix ˈsəf-ˌiks How to pronounce suffix (audio)
: a letter or group of letters that comes at the end of a word and has a meaning of its own
suffixal adjective
suffixless
-ˌiks-ləs
adjective

suffix

2 of 2 verb
suf·​fix ˈsəf-ˌiks How to pronounce suffix (audio)
(ˌ)sə-ˈfiks
: to attach as a suffix
suffixation
ˌsəf-ˌik-ˈsā-shən
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on suffix

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