Go to 'thermo-' entry Go to 'dino-' entry Go to 'chondro-' entry Go to 'aero-' entry Go to '-logy' entry Go to 'thaumato-' entry Go to 'nano-' entry Go to '-sophy' entry Go to 'bucco-' entry Go to '-ism' entry Go to '-lysis' entry Go to 'galacto-' entry Go to '-anthropy' entry Go to 'pneumo-' entry Go to '-ploitation' entry Go to '-lithic' entry Go to '-sepalous' entry Go to 'onco-' entry Go to '-parous' entry Go to 'dermato-' entry Go to 'multi-' entry Go to 'dodeca-' entry Go to '-zoon' entry Go to 'vermi-' entry Go to 'crystallo-' entry Go to 'biblio-' entry Go to 'eco-' entry Go to 'juxta-' entry Go to 'facio-' entry
Affixes: the building blocks of English
Affixes: the building blocks of English

-ling

Forming nouns, often with diminutive or depreciatory implications.

[Old English or Old Norse.]

Nouns have been formed from other nouns, from adjectives, adverbs or verbs. In older formations, the sense is of a person or thing connected with the stem: foundling, hireling, nestling, suckling. In many cases the stem is rare or archaic and the link is now unclear: sibling originally meant a relative, from the Old English sib, related by descent; sterling, British money, derives from Middle English steorra, star, because some early Norman pennies bore a small star.

The ending has long had implications of smallness, especially when speaking of the young of animals or plants: duckling, gosling, fledgling, hatchling, oakling, spiderling, yearling. Occasionally terms are meant affectionately, as in darling (Old English dēore, beloved). More commonly, the associations are negative: underling, weakling, princeling, lordling, godling.

The suffix is now only used to make new words in this depreciatory sense, and not often even then: tycoonling, weedling (a person who is weedy, or weak of stature).

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