- 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, SnCl2, and stannic chloride SnCl4).
Origin of -ous
Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin -ōsus; a doublet of -ose1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- having, full of, or characterized bydangerous; spacious; languorous
- (in chemistry) indicating that an element is chemically combined in the lower of two possible valency statesferrous; stannous Compare -ic (def. 2)
from Old French, from Latin -ōsus or -us, Greek -os, adj suffixes
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for -ous
word-forming element making adjectives from nouns, meaning "having, full of, having to do with, doing, inclined to," from Old French -ous, -eux, from Latin -osus (cf. -ose (1)). In chemistry, "having a lower valence than forms expressed in -ic."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- Possessing; full of; characterized by:filamentous.
- Having a valence lower than that of a specified element in compounds or ions named with adjectives ending in -ic:ferrous.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.