a suffix meaning “full of,” “characterized by” (shameful; beautiful; careful; thoughtful); “tending to,” “able to” (wakeful; harmful); “as much as will fill” (spoonful).
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A Long List of Affixes: Suffixes, Prefixes, and Combining FormsSuffixes -able, -ible, -ile: (form adjs) able to, fit to, worthy, capable; apt to; subject to being ~-ed -ac: one affect with -ac, -al, -ane, -ar, -ary, -ch, -ese, -ic, -ical, -id, -ile, -ine, -ish, -ory: like, of, pertaining to; characterized by -aceae: families of plants -aceous, -ous: resemblance to a substance; full of -acy, -age, -ance, -ancy, -asm, -dom, -ence, -ency, -hood, -ism, -ity, -ment, -mony, -ness, -ry, -ship, …
Origin of -ful
Middle English, Old English -full, -ful, representing full, ful full1
The plurals of nouns ending in -ful are usually formed by adding -s to the suffix: two cupfuls; two scant teaspoonfuls. Perhaps influenced by the phrase in which a noun is followed by the adjective full ( both arms full of packages ), some speakers and writers pluralize such nouns by adding -s before the suffix: two cupsful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
(forming adjectives) full of or characterized bypainful; spiteful; restful
(forming adjectives) able or tending tohelpful; useful
(forming nouns) indicating as much as will fill the thing specifiedmouthful; spoonful
Word Origin for -ful
Old English -ful, -full, from full 1
Where the amount held by a spoon, etc, is used as a rough unit of measurement, the correct form is spoonful, etc: take a spoonful of this medicine every day . Spoon full is used in a sentence such as he held out a spoon full of dark liquid, where full of describes the spoon. A plural form such as spoonfuls is preferred by many speakers and writers to spoonsful
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-forming element meaning "full of, characterized by," Old English -full, -ful, suffix use of full (adj.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper