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

-fic Also -ific and -(i)ficent.

Forming adjectives of action.

[Latin -ficus, ultimately from facere, to do or make]

The -fic ending marks adjectives that relate to an activity, often a continuing one, as in beatific, feeling or expressing blissful happiness; honorific, of something given as a mark of respect; horrific, causing horror; prolific, producing much of something; and soporific, tending to induce drowsiness or sleep.

Some have moved some way away from literalness—terrific now often refers to something wonderful or excellent, but it once meant ‘inducing terror’, from Latin terrere, to frighten; calorific (Latin calor, heat) literally means ‘producing heat’, but now usually refers to the amount of energy contained in food or fuel.

The ending -ficent (see -ant) forms a few adjectives from nouns in -ence (see -ance) that relate to an action or activity, such as beneficent, doing good or conferring benefits; magnificent, making a splendid appearance or show; and munificent, acting generously.

Virtually all these words contain the linking vowel -i- before the suffix, so that the currently active forms are taken to be -ific and -ificent. See also -fy and -ic.

Visit Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words site for 2000+ articles on English!

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Page last updated 23 September 2008.
Your comments and suggestions on the site are very welcome.