a suffix used in forming nouns designating persons from the object of their occupation or labor (hatter; tiler; tinner; moonshiner), or from their place of origin or abode (Icelander; southerner; villager), or designating either persons or things from some special characteristic or circumstance (six-footer; three-master; teetotaler; fiver; tenner).
a suffix serving as the regular English formative of agent nouns, being attached to verbs of any origin (bearer; creeper; employer; harvester; teacher; theorizer).
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Origin of -er1
Middle English -er(e), a coalescence of Old English -ere agentive suffix (cognate with Old High German -āri, Gothic -areis < Germanic *-arjaz (> Slavic *-arĭ) < Latin -ārius -ary) and Old English -ware forming nouns of ethnic or residential orig. (as Rōmware Romans), cognate with Old High German -āri < Germanic *-warioz people
Definition for -er (2 of 7)
a noun suffix occurring in loanwords from French in the Middle English period, most often names of occupations (archer; butcher; butler; carpenter; grocer; mariner; officer), but also other nouns (corner; danger; primer). Some historical instances of this suffix, as in banker or gardener, where the base is a recognizable modern English word, are now indistinguishable from denominal formations with -er1, as miller or potter.
Definition for -er (3 of 7)
a termination of nouns denoting action or process: dinner; rejoinder; remainder; trover.
Origin of -er3
< French, orig. infinitive suffix -er, -re
Definition for -er (4 of 7)
a suffix regularly used in forming the comparative degree of adjectives: harder; smaller.
Origin of -er4
Middle English -er(e), -re, Old English -ra, -re; cognate with German -er
Definition for -er (5 of 7)
a suffix regularly used in forming the comparative degree of adverbs: faster.
Origin of -er5
Middle English -er(e), -re, Old English -or; cognate with Old High German -or, German -er
Definition for -er (6 of 7)
a formal element appearing in verbs having frequentative meaning: flicker; flutter; shiver; shudder.
Origin of -er6
Middle English; Old English -r-; cognate with German -(e)r-
Definition for -er (7 of 7)
a suffix that creates informal or jocular mutations of more neutral words, which are typically clipped to a single syllable if polysyllabic, before application of the suffix, and which sometimes undergo other phonetic alterations: bed-sitter; footer; fresher; rugger. Most words formed thus have been limited to English public-school and university slang; few, if any, have become current in North America, with the exception of soccer, which has also lost its earlier informal character.
Origin of -er7
probably modeled on nonagentive uses of -er1; said to have first become current in University College, Oxford, 1875–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for -er (1 of 2)
suffix forming nouns
a person or thing that performs a specified actionreader; decanter; lighter
a person engaged in a profession, occupation, etcwriter; baker; bootlegger
a native or inhabitant ofislander; Londoner; villager
a person or thing having a certain characteristicnewcomer; double-decker; fiver
Word Origin for -er
Old English -ere; related to German -er, Latin -ārius
British Dictionary definitions for -er (2 of 2)
forming the comparative degree of adjectives (deeper, freer, sunnier, etc) and adverbs (faster, slower, etc)
Word Origin for -er
Old English -rd, -re (adj), -or (adv)
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