In English, the suffixes listed above are sometimes appended in informal contexts (often, but not always, with humorous intentions) to create an adjective or adverb form of a noun. Are there any similar things in Italian?

2 Answers 2


The adverb form does not exist in Italian: (http://www.morewords.com/most-common-ends-with/ishly/) these English adverbs can be translated by a phrase:

  • -ishly': 'in modo/una maniera piuttosto generosa/stupida/passiva/febbrile'

sometimes appended in informal contexts (often, but not always, with humorous intentions) to create an adjective or adverb form of a noun

We must distinguish the suffix appended to a noun: 'sheepish behaviour' (or: he behaved sheepishly) which you can translate with

  • da : comportamento da pecora', or, (more idiomatically),: 'si è comportato da pecorone. You can't say 'pecor-esco'. You can use it also in most occurrences of '-like'
  • '-esco' is a tricky suffix as it is used regularly with peoples (arabesco, barbaresco, romanesco), persons (dantesco, petrarchesco), centuries, years (trecentesco, quattrocentesco, sessantottesco). It can also be used with adjectives: (avvocatesco, cavalleresco, fiabesco, guerresco, poliziesco, popolaresco) it can be interpreted as a pejorative suffix in: (scimmiesco, animalesco, pazzesco) but , careful, the pejorative register is often only in the original word.

The most frequently used suffix are:

  • '-ile', 'ino','-evole': (febbrile, 'giovanile' only if this is referred to a mature person, canterino, ragionevole, arrendevole, socievole)
  • 'eggiante' translates '-like': (tondeggiante, pianeggiante) and in other contexts takes the meaning of 'imitating', 'after the fashion of' and keeps the hyphen (pop-eggiante, rock-eggiante)
  • '-ale can also translate '-like' and can have a pejorative connotation: (tono professorale)
  • 'iccio' is the neutral suffix for colour: (gialliccio, rossiccio), not used with all colours
  • '-astro' can be tricky too, as it is usually pejorative with nouns: (medicastro, giovinastro, poetastro), but not with all adjectives: 'sordastro' means 'a little deaf', 'durastro' 'a lot hard': with colour or taste may mean both neutral: 'vague, not defined' and pejorative 'not pleasant': (rossastro, giallastro, biancastro, dolciastro, salmastro)
  • -ognolo is used in limited contexts

Most humorous suffixes cannot be transalated by a suffix "this soup is tomato-ish = questa minestra sa di pomodoro'


As other Romance languages, Italian language is highly inflecting: it has about 80 prefixes and 160 suffixes. At this link you may find an incomplete list (for example it misses suffixes "-ognolo", "-eggiante", "-igno", etc.).

It is hard to determine an equivalent for English "-like" or "-ish" unless you provide more information: how exactly do you wish to modify the meaning of the noun? It seems that you are looking for suffixes that in Italian are named "suffissi aggettivali alterativi" (roughly "alterative, i.e. modifying adjectival suffixes").

For example, for colors you often use the suffix "-ognolo", so something "greenish" would become "verdognolo"; something "yellowish" would become "giallognolo", but it could also be "giallastro", using the suffix "-astro" (which may add a pejorative nuance).

A very productive suffix is "-oso" which you can use to invent countless neologisms: something "sugary" would become "zuccheroso".

Another possibility may be "-esco": "animalish" would be "animalesco".

To be more precise I need more details from the question, perhaps some examples.

  • 3
    I suppose there's no 1:1 correspondence anyway, and the suffixes you report here are the nearest ones, though they may have specific meaning: for instance -astro implies some negative/denigrating feeling. Sep 16, 2014 at 8:20
  • 1
    I agree: Italian suffixes are used in very specific ways, they modify the noun in their own manner, and they are not necessarily applicable to any word in any context.
    – user193
    Sep 16, 2014 at 11:20
  • This is a bit belated, but I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to add those links. This is a great answer!
    – Stan
    Feb 8, 2015 at 14:55

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