This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.
So great is current interest in the origin and behavior of words, that a paper with the title "Living Language" (N Engl J Med 289:1298-1300, 1973) does not seem irrelevant in a medical journal. Nor is it astonishing to find in one issue of a literary magazine (SR World, Jan 12, 1974) an article on derivations of words, another on their misuse, and an essay by Thomas H. Middleton on —of all things—the suffix -ish. Suffixes are of particular concern to medicine. Without -itis, -osis, -opathy, -otomy, and -ectomy, medical terminology would be a denuded, withered tree. But can we get emotional about -ish?
Middleton finds -ish depressing. In the "fullish" feeling or in the "two-thirtyish" appointment it casts a shadow of uncertainty over the word that it qualifies. Sometimes it adds a pejorative note. Unlike -like and -ly, which often compliment, -ish detracts. "Mannish" is not flattering,
Vaisrub S. —Oid. JAMA. 1974;229(2):191–192. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230400053036
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: