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  1. a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, with the sense of “belonging to” (British; Danish; English; Spanish); “after the manner of,” “having the characteristics of,” “like” (babyish; girlish; mulish); “addicted to,” “inclined or tending to” (bookish; freakish); “near or about” (fiftyish; sevenish).
  2. a suffix used to form adjectives from other adjectives, with the sense of “somewhat,” “rather” (oldish; reddish; sweetish).
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Origin of -ish1

Middle English; Old English -isc; cognate with German -isch, Gothic -isks, Greek -iskos; akin to -esque


  1. a suffix occurring in i-stem verbs borrowed from French: ravish.
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Origin of -ish2

< French -iss-, extended stem of verbs with infinitives in -irLatin -isc-, in inceptive verbs
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ish

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Ish ver shorry you go get the money for the two cameels,” said he.

  • I doubt it may be but a rusty instrument for want of use, the ——ish heart.

  • But then the curse said, ‘A daughter of Ish,’ and she was a child of Japhet.

    The Wonderful Story of Ravalette

    Paschal Beverly Randolph

  • Ish was wearing the look with which he always reacted to the unfamiliar.

    Desire No More

    Algirdas Jonas Budrys

  • Ish knew the normal reaction a statement like that should have brought.

    Desire No More

    Algirdas Jonas Budrys

British Dictionary definitions for ish


sentence substitute
  1. slang used to express reservation or qualified assentThings are looking up. Ish
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suffix forming adjectives
  1. of or belonging to a nationality or groupScottish
  2. often derogatory having the manner or qualities of; resemblingslavish; prudish; boyish
  3. somewhat; approximatelyyellowish; sevenish
  4. concerned or preoccupied withbookish
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Word Origin

Old English -isc; related to German -isch, Greek -iskos
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 ish


adjectival suffix, from Old English -isc, common Germanic (cf. Old Norse -iskr, German -isch, Gothic -isks), cognate with Greek diminutive suffix -iskos. Colloquially attached to hours to denote approximation, 1916.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper