- a suffix occurring originally in loanwords from Classical and Medieval Latin, on adjectives (elementary; honorary; stationary; tributary), personal nouns (actuary; notary; secretary), or nouns denoting objects, especially receptacles or places (library; rosary; glossary). The suffix has the general sense “pertaining to, connected with” the referent named by the base; it is productive in English, sometimes with the additional senses “contributing to,” “for the purpose of,” and usually forming adjectives: complimentary; visionary; revolutionary; inflationary.
Origin of -ary
- (forming adjectives) of; related to; belonging tocautionary; rudimentary
- (forming nouns)
- a person connected with or engaged inmissionary
- a thing relating to; a place forcommentary; aviary
Word Origin and History for -ary
adjective and noun suffix, in most cases from Latin -arius, -aria, -arium "connected with, pertaining to; the man engaged in," from PIE relational adjective suffix *-yo- "of or belonging to." It appears in words borrowed from Latin in Middle English. In later borrowings from Latin to French, it became -aire and passed into Middle English as -arie, subsequently -ary.