• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

The suffix -erig /ərəɣ/ can be used to derive adjectives from nouns (hout wood > houterig wooden, awkward), verbs (plakken to stick > plakkerigsticky) or - more rarely - from other adjectives (zoet sweet > zoeterig sweetish). In some cases, the input consists of two or more words: jonge honden young dogs > jongehonderig playful.


  • if X is an adjective: 'having a tendency to be X' (slightly pejorative) jaloerserig jealous
  • if X is a noun: 'to resemble X' or 'with (much) X' kitscherig kitschy, bloederig bloody
  • if X is a verb: 'with a tendency to X' (often pejorative) huilerig weepy, whining, prekerig moralizing, bigoted
The pejorative connotation appears frequently, but not everywhere: krullerig curly or slaperig sleepy are affectively neutral.

In some cases, the meaning of the -erig-adjective is idiosyncratic and not easily recoverable from its base, e.g. in landerig listless < land land or krenterig stingykrent raisin. In a fair number of cases, the category of the base is ambiguous: an adjective like slaperig sleepy could be derived from the verb slapen to sleep or the homophonous noun slaap sleep. In other cases, the base does not or no longer exist as an independent word, as in miezerig measly.

-erig has a close competitor in the suffix -ig. Sometimes, the structure of an adjective is ambiguous between the two suffixes, e.g. in gluurderig inclined to peeking, which could have the structure [[gluur-d](V)-erig](A) or [[gluurder](N)-ig](A). Semantically, the two suffixes are similar, though -ig, has a less pejorative meaning (Schultink 1962).

[+]General properties

The suffix -erig forms adjectives out of nouns or verbs or, more rarely, other adjectives. The process is productive, especially with nominal and verbal bases. The meaning of the resulting adjective can be pejorative, witness slachtofferig victim-erig self-victimizing. Newly coined forms often occur in contexts with negation: ik ben niet zo weggooierig I'm not so fond of throwing things away.

-erig-forms behave like other adjectives and have a positive, comparative and a superlative form: plakkerig sticky, plakkeriger stickier, plakkerigst stickiest.

[+]Stratum, input and phonological properties

The bases that the suffix attaches to are mostly Germanic (springerig springy < spring jump) but some are non-Germanic (paniekerig panicky < paniek panic). They can be morphologically complex (opdringerig intrusive, pushy < opdringen to intrude) or simple (hongerig hungry < honger hunger). Forms with suffixed bases are rare, but seem not to be impossible; an attested example is literairderig artificially literary.

An interesting subclass are -erig-adjectives derived on the basis of more than one word. Examples are dikdoenerig boastful, which is related to the expression dik doen to boast, and jongehonderig boisterous, based on jonge honden young dogs. Such words are formed in one derivational step; the intermediate forms do not exist (*dikdoen, *doenig, *jongehond, *honderig). Very rarely, an entire idiom can be input for the derivation: van-de-hak-op-de-takk-erig erratic, jumping from one topic to the next.

Phonologically, -erig is a cohering suffix; bases ending in a consonant are resyllabified such that the consonant becomes the onset of the first syllable of the suffix. When the base word ends in /r/, a /d/ is inserted between base and suffix: zeur complain > zeurderig complaining. The same can happen after root-final /n/, though not in all cases: compare uitgaan to go out > uitgaanderig fond of going out but zoen kiss > zoenerig fond of kissing. Some potential forms may be avoided because they contain two consecutive syllables with a schwa (?wandelerig fond of walking).

[hide extra information]

For more examples and discussion of /d/-insertion, see Booij (1998).

If a base ends in /ər/, as in waterig watery < water water or betweterig smart-alecky < betweter smart-aleck, it is not clear whether the suffix is -ig or rather -erig, with haplological deletion of /ər/. Finally, the stress patterns of -erig-adjectives is usually identical to that of their bases, although there are cases like /zich 'aanstellen/ to be difficult about something vs. /aan'stellerig/ being difficult about something, where the addition of -erig moves the stress to the last syllable before the suffix.

[+]Morphological potential

Adjectives ending in -erig do not easily serve as input for further derivations, the exception being nominalization with -heid: opdringerigheid intrusiveness, plakkerigheid stickiness, kneuterigheid cosiness.

  • Booij, Geert1998Prosodic output constraints in morphologyKehrein, Wolfgang & Wiese, Richard (eds.)Phonology and morphology of the Germanic languagesTübingenNiemeyer143-163
  • Schultink, Henk1962De morfologische valentie van het ongelede adjectief in modern NederlandsDen HaagVan Goor Zonen