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The group of nouns ending in the Germanic suffix -dom is quite small. Primarily, the derived nouns can have a nominal base, for instance: kristen Christian > kristendom Christianity or hartoch duke > hartochdom duchy. The former example is a collective noun - it refers to a set of people - while the latter refers to the territory related to the base noun. The suffix -dom is still productive in forming collective nouns.

A noun ending in -dom can also have an adjectival base: ryk rich > rykdom wealth or wiis wise > wysdom wisdom. Here, the suffix is not productive anymore.

There is one example in which the derivation in -dom has a verbal base: waakse to grow > waaksdom growth.

[+]Noun as input

The suffix -dom can be attached to a noun. Examples are given below, divided into two categories:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
Collective noun derivations kristen Christian kristendom Christianity
heiden pagan heidendom paganism
minsk human minskdom humanity
pryster priest prysterdom priesthood
goaden god goadendom pantheon
adel nobility adeldom nobility (all the noble people together)
Territory noun derivations hartoch duke hartochdom duchy
biskop bishop bisdom diocese
prins prince prinsdom princedom
The first category consists of collective nouns referring to a set of people or a group: kristendom Christianity refers to all the kristens Christians. The suffix -dom is still productive in forming such collective nouns. For all of these, it is the case that they do not have a plural form since they already have an inherent plural, collective element: heidendom paganism > *heidendommen paganisms and minskdom humanity > *minskdommen humanities.

The second category consists of nouns referring to a territory related to the base noun: the hartochdom duchy is the territory of the hartoch duke. Here, the suffix -dom is not productive anymore. The territorial nouns can have a plural: hartochdom duchy > hartochdommen duchies.

For all derivations applies that they are neuter, with the exception of adeldom nobility (all the noble people together), which has common gender.

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goadendom pantheon and bisdom diocese

In case of goadendom pantheon the base form seems to be the plural goaden gods, instead of single god god.

The base form of bisdom diocese is biskop bishop. In Dutch, where the base form is bisschop bishop, the derivations bisdom diocese and bisschopdom diocese both exist, but in Frisian *biskopdom diocese is not possible. Therefore, -kop has to be truncated before -dom.

[+]Adjective as input

There are only a few nouns ending in -dom that have an adjectival base:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
wiis wise wiisdom/wysdom wisdom
ryk rich rykdom wealth
frij free frijdom freedom
âlder age, antiquity âlderdom age, antiquity
hillich holy hillichdom sanctuary

The first four derivations are everyday words with a rather abstract character. The noun âlderdom age, antiquity is exceptional in that it is the comparative form of the adjective that forms the base of the noun. Hillichdom sanctuary is a somewhat deviating item since it is a neuter word that refers, like the second category of the nouns with a nominal base, to something concrete; a hillichdom is a holy object. If a derivation can be interpreted as a count noun, then it allows plural formation, i.e. rykdommen riches or hillichdommen sanctuaries.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix -dom does not alter the stress pattern of the base word. It can follow a stressed syllable (RYKdom richness, BISdom diocese) or an unstressed syllable (HEIdendom paganism, HILlichdom sanctuary). In wysdom wisdom it brings about shortening of the long vowel /i:/ to /i/ of the base wiis /vi:s/ wise.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:115), De Haan (2001:108) and De Haas and Trommelen (1993:253-254).

  • Haan, Germen J. de2001Grammar of Modern West-FrisianUniversity of Groningen
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy