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-er /ər/ is one of the four verbalizing suffixes in Dutch. The others are -eer, -el and -ig. Verbs with -er are, for example:

Example 1

a. knipperen
to blink
b. klonteren
to get lumpy
c. snotteren
to sniffle

The suffix sometimes seems to have an iterative meaning as described for -el, however, many -er verbs lack a lexical base to which the meaning might be compared.


Verbalization by means of suffixes is not a common procedure in Dutch. Of the four verbalizing suffixes -el, -er, -ig and -eer, only -eer is productive. The unproductive -er occurs in a small number of verbs, many of which do not have a lexical base. Examples are spetteren to spatter, tokkelen to strum (a string instrument) and lubberen to wear out, whose bases are obsolete in present-day Dutch.

In other cases, the verbs are formed from nominals, as in klont lump > klonteren to get lumpy, or from verbs, as in redden to save > redderen to bustle. Often there is ambiguity between the two categories: knipperen to blink could be derived from the noun knip cut or the homophonous verb stem knip cut.

Some -er verbs are conversions or back-formations from nouns rather than suffixal verbalizations. An example is liefhebberen to be an amateur in sth., which is probably derived from liefhebber lover, amateur or liefhebberij hobby rather than from liefhebben to love.