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.


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Also -ey1.

Origin of -y

Old English -ig; cognate with German -ig; compare perhaps Latin -icus, Greek -ikos

Words nearby -y

Definition for -y (2 of 3)


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).
Also -ie.
Compare -o, -sy.

Origin of -y

late Middle English (Scots), orig. in names; of uncertain origin; baby and puppy, now felt as having this suffix, may be of different derivation

Definition for -y (3 of 3)


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 -y

representing Latin -ia, -ium; Greek -ia, -eia, -ion; French -ie; German -ie
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for -y (1 of 3)



suffix forming adjectives

(from nouns) characterized by; consisting of; filled with; relating to; resemblingsunny; sandy; smoky; classy
(from verbs) tending to; acting or existing as specifiedleaky; shiny

Word Origin for -y

from Old English -ig, -ǣg

British Dictionary definitions for -y (2 of 3)


-ie or -ey

suffix informal

denoting smallness and expressing affection and familiaritya doggy; a granny; Jamie
a person or thing concerned with or characterized by beinga groupie; a fatty

Word Origin for -y

C14: from Scottish -ie, -y, familiar suffix occurring originally in names, as in Jamie (James)

British Dictionary definitions for -y (3 of 3)


suffix forming nouns

(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 for -y

from Old French -ie, from Latin -ia
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