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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English Affixes From A To Z: A One-Stop List Of Suffixes, Prefixes, and Combining FormsIn English, we love to make new words by adding all sorts of bits to the front and back of existing terms. These are called affixes, and they are added to the base or stem of a word. When attached to the end of word, the affix is called a suffix. And to the beginning? A prefix.
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
British Dictionary definitions for -ful
(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