Suffixes and Abstract Nouns


Examples of abstract nouns formed therewith


breakage, frontage, marriage, pilgrimage, shortage, weightage

a suffix used to form substantives from either adjectives or verbs

appearance, distance, furtherance, insurance, remembrance abstinence, competence, dependence, reference, silence

Note that competence and competency are synonymous but not dependence and dependency.

a noun-forming suffix derived from the Latin -tia, as in absentia

absence, benevolence, clemency, congruence/congruency, delicacy, idiocy, inheritance, leniency, obstinacy

Note: The -sy in apostasy is not a variant of -cy. The word is derived from Greek apo “from” + stasis “a standing”.


boredom, fiefdom, freedom, martyrdom

Note: The suffix -dom also denotes domain (Christendom, kingdom), rank or station (stardom), and a collection of persons (moviedom, officialdom).


[See -ance/-ence.]

the latter being the shortened form of the former

ancestry, bravery, devilry, imagery, mimicry, pastry, revelry, slavery, snobbery, trickery

Note: The suffix -ery/-ry additionally denotes a place or establishment (bakery, distillery, nursery, refinery, registry), an occupation or vocation or calling (carpentry, chemistry, dentistry, sorcery, wizardry), and a collection of goods or people/things (confectionery, jewellery [US jewelry]), machinery, pottery, stationery, weaponry).


finesse, largess/largesse, prowess.
Variants include -es (riches), -s (fundamentals, statistics), -ice (advice, cowardice, justice), and -ise (expertise, merchandise).

a suffix added to a verb ending in -ve to form a substantive

believe/belief, grieve/grief, prove/proof, relieve/relief, strive/strife.

Note: The noun mischief is formed from the prefix mis- “wrongly, badly, unsuitably” + achieve.


godhead, adulthood, brotherhood, childhood, falsehood, likelihood, nationhood, priesthood, womanhood
[If you are thinking of an abstract noun associated with neighbour, neighbourhood (“the area surrounding a place, person, or object”) is not it. Try neighbourliness.]


[See under -ess/-esse.]

a suffix which does not denote state or condition or quality or attribute; but it denotes a body of facts, principles, knowledge, etc. pertaining to a particular subject

Cybernetics, ethics, linguistics, mathematics, numismatics, politics


abolish/abolition, admire/admiration, beautify/beutification, condemn/condemnation, decide/decision, digest/digestion, inflect/inflexion, possess/possession, revolve/revolution,

Note the similar word-endings in condemn, contemn, and solemn; but their abstract nouns are formed differently, viz. condemnation, contempt, and solemnity.


heroism, individualism, pauperism

Note: Besides denoting state or condition or quality or attribute, the suffix -ism also denotes an action, practice, or process (favouritism, terrorism); a distinctive usage or feature
(Americanism, malapropism); or a doctrine, theory, system, or principle (capitalism, consumerism, expressionism, socialism).


absurdity, barbarity, captivity, credibility, credulity, individuality, mortality, paternity, prolixity, scarcity, serenity, speciality (US specialty), technicality, vulgarity


Acknowledgement (US acknowledgment), admonishment (also admonition), concealment, development, enjoyment, entertainment, government, merriment, movement, settlement, shipment

Note: Tenement is not an abstract noun. Depending on usage, settlement can be an abstract noun or a common noun.


aloofness, awareness, covetousness, happiness, kindness, preparedness, seriousness, togetherness, uniqueness, weariness,

Note: Precise forms preciseness or precision. Concise forms conciseness but not concision.


[See -ery.]

-t (controversial?)

[I cannot find -t, as a suffix to form abstract nouns, in any dictionary. Why not? After all, such suffix(?) occurs in words such as ascent, complaint, conceit, constraint, contempt, descent, height, receipt, restraint, weight.]


breadth, dearth, death, depth, growth, health, length, stealth, strength, truth, warmth, wealth, width


certitude, exactitude, fortitude, gratitude, magnitude, plenitude, quietude, rectitude, servitude, solitude


certainty, cruelty, entirety, frailty, gaiety, naivety (the original French naïveté is also used), nicety, novelty, piety, propriety, safety, sobriety, sovereignty,


capture, closure, curvature, exposure, failure, pleasure, primogeniture, rapture, seizure, tenure


battery, difficulty, discovery, entry (cf. entrance), felony, gluttony, infamy, jealousy, modesty, monotony, pedagogy, philanthropy, synchrony, tyranny, villainy

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