- a native English suffix of adjectives meaning “characterized by or inclined to” the substance or action of the word or stem to which the suffix is attached: juicy; grouchy; rumbly; dreamy. Sometimes used to mean “allowing, fostering, or bringing about” the specified action: sippy.
Origin of -y1
- a noun-forming suffix with a variety of functions in contemporary English, added to monosyllabic bases to create words that are almost always informal. Its earliest use, probably still productive, was to form endearing or familiar names or common nouns from personal names, other nouns, and adjectives (Billy; Susie; birdie; doggie; granny; sweetie; tummy). The hypocoristic feature is absent in recent coinages, however, which are simply informal and sometimes pejorative (boonies; cabby; groupie; hippy; looie; Okie; preemie; preppy; rookie). Another function of -y2 (-ie) is to form from adjectives nouns that denote exemplary or extreme instances of the quality named by the adjective (baddie; biggie; cheapie; toughie), sometimes focusing on a restricted, usually unfavorable sense of the adjective (sharpie; sickie; whitey). A few words in which the informal character of -y2 (-ie) has been lost are now standard in formal written English (goalie; movie).
Origin of -y2
- a suffix of various origins used in the formation of action nouns from verbs (inquiry), also found in other abstract nouns: carpentry; infamy.
Origin of -y3
- (from nouns) characterized by; consisting of; filled with; relating to; resemblingsunny; sandy; smoky; classy
- (from verbs) tending to; acting or existing as specifiedleaky; shiny
-ie or -ey
- denoting smallness and expressing affection and familiaritya doggy; a granny; Jamie
- a person or thing concerned with or characterized by beinga groupie; a fatty
- (from verbs) indicating the act of doing what is indicated by the verbal elementinquiry
- (esp with combining forms of Greek, Latin, or French origin) indicating state, condition, or qualitygeography; jealousy
Word Origin and History for -y
suffix in pet proper names (e.g. Johnny, Kitty), first recorded in Scottish, c.1400; became frequent in English 15c.-16c. Extension to surnames seems to date from c.1940. Use with common nouns seems to have begun in Scottish with laddie (1546) and become popular in English due to Burns' poems, but the same formation appears to be represented much earlier in baby and puppy.
adjective suffix, "full of or characterized by," from Old English -ig, from Proto-Germanic *-iga (cf. German -ig), cognate with Greek -ikos, Latin -icus.