• -er


    • UK IPA: /ə/
    • US enPR: ər, IPA: /ɚ/

    Etymology 1

    From Middle English -er, -ere, from Old English -ere, from Proto-Germanic *-ārijaz. Usually thought to have been borrowed from Latin -ārius. Cognate with Dutch -er, Low German -er, German -er, Swedish -are, Icelandic -ari, Gothic -𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐍃 (-areis). Compare also Ancient Greek -ήριος, Old Church Slavonic -арь (-arĭ).

    Alternative forms

    • -'er following an abbreviation, or sometimes following a number

    Full definition of -er


    1. (added to verbs) person or thing that does an action indicated by the root verb; used to form an agent noun.reader, cooker, computer, runner-up, do-gooder
    2. (added to a noun denoting an occupation) Person whose occupation is (the noun).astrologer, cricketer, trumpeter
    3. (added to a number, measurement or noun denoting a quantified set) A name for a person or thing that is based on a number (with or without a noun).sixer, six-footer, three-wheeler, first-grader
    4. (slang, chiefly entertainment, with few limitations) Used to form nouns shorter than more formal synonyms.percenter (commission agent); one-hander (one-man show); ''oater (a Western-themed movie)
    5. (informal, added to a noun) One who enjoys.Tooners lined up for tickets to Toy Story.
    6. (derogatory, added to nouns) Person who subscribes to a particular conspiracy theory or unorthodox belief.anti-vaxxer, birther, flat-Earther, 9/11 truther

    Usage notes

    The suffix may be used to form an agent noun of many verbs. In compound or phrasal verbs, the suffix usually follows the verb component (as in passerby and runner-up) but is sometimes added at the end, irrespective of the position of the verb component (do-gooder) or is added to both components for humorous effect (washer-upper).

    The entertainment slang sense is sometimes referred to as the Variety -er.

    Etymology 2

    From Middle English -er, -ere, from Old English -ware, from Proto-Germanic *warjaz ("defender, inhabitant"), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- ("to close, cover, protect, save, defend"). Cognate with Dutch -er, German -er, Swedish -are.


    1. (added to a proper noun) Suffix denoting a resident or inhabitant of (the place denoted by the proper noun); used to form a demonym.New Yorker, Londoner, Dubliner
    2. Suffix denoting residency in or around a district, area, or region.islander, highlander, eastender

    Etymology 3

    From Middle English -er, -re, from Old English -ru (plural suffix.), from Proto-Germanic *-izō. Cognate with Dutch -er (plural ending.), German -er (plural ending.). See also -ren.


    1. (no longer productive) Suffix used to form the plural of a small number of English nouns.childer, calver, lamber, linder ("loins")

    Derived terms

    Etymology 4

    Representing various noun-suffixes in Old French and Anglo-Norman, variously -er, -ier and -ieur, from Latin -aris, -arius, -atorium.


    1. person or thing connected withbutler

    Etymology 5

    From Old English -ra, from Proto-Germanic *-izô or Proto-Germanic *-ōzô (a derivative of Etymology 6, below).


    1. (added to certain adjectives and adverbs, now especially short ones) more; used to form the comparative.longer, bigger, faster, sooner, simpler

    Usage notes

    (more; used to form the comparative) Adjectives whose comparatives are formed using the suffix -er also form their superlatives using the suffix -est.

    Final -y preceded by a consonant becomes -i- when the suffix -er or -est is added.

    easyeasiereasiest; graygrayergrayest

    When the stress is on the final (or only) syllable of the adjective, and this syllable ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, the final consonant is doubled when the suffix is added.


    The suffixes -er and -est may be used to form the comparative and superlative of most adjectives and adverbs that have one syllable and some that have two syllables.

    hothotterhottest; fastfasterfastest; funnyfunnierfunniest

    Some adjectives and adverbs form their comparatives and superlatives irregularly:

    goodbetterbest; farfartherfarthest, or farfurtherfurthest, depending on the meaning

    The comparatives and superlatives of other adverbs and adjectives that have two syllables, most longer adjectives and adverbs, and adjectives that are participles are formed with more and most.

    rigidmore rigidmost rigid; enormousmore enormousmost enormous; burntmore burntmost burnt; freezingmore freezingmost freezing

    If in doubt, use more to form the comparative and most to form the superlative; for example, thirsty may become thirstier and thirstiest, but more thirsty and most thirsty are also acceptable.

    Words ending with -ng are pronounced by most dialects instead of . However, when -er or -est is added to an adjective, the appears (in most dialects).

    long (IPA: /lɒŋ/) → longer (IPA: /ˈlɒŋ.gə(ɹ)/); young (IPA: /jʌŋ/) → youngest (IPA: /ˈjʌŋ.gɪst/)

    Etymology 6

    From Old English -or, from Proto-Germanic *-ōz.


    1. (added to certain adverbs) more; used to form the comparative.

    Etymology 7

    From Middle English -eren, -ren, -rien, from Old English -erian, -rian, from Proto-Germanic *-rōną. Cognate with West Frisian -erje, Dutch -eren, German -eren, -ern, Danish -re, Swedish -ra.


    1. (added to a verb or imitative sound) frequently; used to form frequentative verbs.twitter, clamber, bicker, mutter, wander, flutter, flicker, slither, smother, sputter


    • (used to form frequentative) -le

    Etymology 8

    Representing Anglo-Norman -er, the infinitive verbal ending.


    1. (added to a verb) instance of (the verbal action); used to form nouns from verbs, especially in legal terms.disclaimer, misnomer, remitter, rebutter

    Etymology 9

    From Middle English -er, -ere. Compare -el.


    1. (added to a verb or noun) used to form diminutives.shiver < shivesliver < slivesplinter < splint

    Etymology 10

    Originally Rugby School slang.


    1. Used to form slang or colloquial equivalents of words.soccer, rugger, brekkers, Radder, divvers
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