This leaf is a drawth wordwrestling a riddle or a wen that has arisen in the making of Anglish. See other drawths.

Old English nouns may be sundered into 'simple', 'derivative' and 'compound'. The 'derivative' nouns are made from 'adjectives', 'verbs' and by sundry 'suffices'.

Some 'suffices' were no longer felt as such in OE, such the -el as in bydel (messanger) or the -ol in fugol (bird), while others were 'constructive'.


ā-, ever as in ābremēnde (ever celebrating)

æ-, privative prefix denoting without as in æfelle (without skin)

æf-, stressed form of of- meaning off, for byspell æfest (envy)

æfter-, after as in æftergenga (successor)

an-, stressed form of on. anfilte (anvil)

and-, against, back, in return, away andcwis (answer)

bī-, meaning by. This is the stressed form, the unstressed form is be-. bīcwide (proverb)

ed-, back, again. edcierr (return)

fore-, before. forebeacen (foretoken)

fram-, from. framcyme (progeny)

ge-, (in addition to the praeterite participle) from a primitive preposition (ge) meaning together that was later lost, it was used to form collective nouns or intensifier. gebrōþor (brethren)

in-, stressed form of in. inādl (internal disease)

mid-, (stressed form) with. midspreca (advocate)

mis-, lost, different. misfadung (misconduct)

ofer-, stressed form of ofer (over). oferæt (gluttony)

on-, on (unstress as opposed to an-). onbring (instigation)

or-, from a primitive preposition meaning out. ordāl (ordeal)

sam-, from samen (together). samhiwan (members of a family)

sam-, half. sambærned (half-burnt)

sin-, ever, perpetual. sindream (everlasting joy)

tō-, to. tōcyme (approach, arrivals)

twi-, two. twibill (two-edged axe)

þri-, three. þridæglic (lasting three days)

þurh-, through. þurhbeorht (very bright)

un-, negative particle, but sometimes an intensifier on negative nouns. unār (disonour).

under-, under. underburg (suburb) ūp-, up. ūpcyme (origin, rising)

ūt-, out. ūtcwealm (utter destruction)

wan-, wanting, lacking, deficient. wanhælþ (weakness)

wiþer-, against. wiþercwide (contradiction)

ymb-, around. ymbfær (circuit)


-aþ, -oþ, forming abstract nouns from verbs (II class weak ones). drohtaþ (way of life)

-bora, bearer (akin to the Latin -fer) or ruler. æscbora (spearbearer)

-dōm, condition, state. abbuddōm (abbacy)

-els, forming masculine nouns. brædels (carpet)

-en. forming femmine nouns from masculine nouns. fyxen (she-fox)

-en. forming neuter nouns often with diminutive meaning. cycen (chicken)

-end. derived from the present participle (-end) to form nomina agentis (a noun that is the agents of a verb: a reader reads). feond (enemy)

-ere. English -er. used to form nomina agentis first from nouns and then from verbs. bæcere (baker)

-estre. used to make feminine nomina agentis. bæcestre (female baker)

-et, used to make neuter abstract nouns from verbs (cf. -aþ). bærnet (arson)

-hād. used to make masculine abstract nouns from nouns and adjectives. haidus (way, manner)

-icel, diminutive. cofincel (little chamber)

-ing. used to make masculine concrete nouns, expecially patronymics. æþeling (son of a noble)

-lāc, used to form neuter nouns to express motion, offering or gift. æfenlāc (evening sacrifice)

-nes(s). femmine abstract nouns from adjectives. æþelnes (nobility)

-ræden(n), fem. abstract nouns denoting condition. geferræden (companionship)

-scipe, masc. abstract nouns denoting condition. freondscipe (friendship)

-stafas, staves or sticks, used masc. abstract nouns. arstafas (kindness)

-þo, -þ. fem. abstract nouns from adjectives. fylþ (filth)

-u, -o. embracing fem. abstract nouns from adjectives. menniscu (humanity, human state)

-ung. fem. abstract nouns from verbs. abidung (waiting)

-wist. fem. abstract nouns. huswist (household)


  • Joseph Wright and Elizabeth Mary Wright, Old English Grammar, second edition 1914, Oxford University Press. §564659
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.