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-achtig/ɑɣtəɣ/ is a suffix that derives adjectives from other adjectives, nouns, verbs and word groups. Examples for each type are given in (1):

Example 1

a. groen-achtig
b. rots-achtig
c. vergeet-achtig
d. grot-e-mens-en-achtig
grown-up like

The meaning of the adjective depends on the word class of the stem.


  • if X = adjective: 'X-ish' (attenuative) (roodachtigreddish)
  • if X = noun: 'resembling X' (aapachtigapish), 'having a lot of X' (bergachtigmountainous), 'liking X' (pastaachtigliking pasta), 'having the tendency to X' (leugenachtiglying, dishonest)
  • if X = verb: 'having the tendency to X' (huichelachtighypocritical)
  • if X = word group 'typical of X' (oudemannenachtiglike an old man)
  • In addition, there are adjectives with a special, lexicalized meaning, such as waarachtigtrue, truly, kinderachtigchildish, schilderachtigpicturesque.

[+] Productivity, input, stratum

The affix -achtig is productive; especially with nominal bases, new forms occur freely. While the suffix is Germanic, it also attaches to non-native bases: turquoiseachtigturquoise-like, safraanachtigsaffron-like, including morphologically complex bases such as literairliterary > literairachtigquasi literary. Other types of complex bases are compounds (roofdierachtigpredator-like) or phrases, including their inflections (jongehondenachtigjong-e-hond-en-achtigyoung-PL-dog-PL-SUFFlike young dogs). In some cases, e.g. with diminutives, a linking-/s/ is inserted: sprookjefairytale > sprookjesachtigfairy-like, romantic.

-achtig is a non-cohering suffix; it is syllabified independently of the word stem and it does not cause schwa-deletion, see groenachtig/grun.ɑɣtəɣ/greenish and beigeachtig/bɛ:ʒə.ɑɣtəɣ/beige-ish. Moreover, in contrast to cohering affixes such as -ig, stem-final consonants are devoiced before -achtig: vlees/vle:s/meat > vlezig/vle:zəɣ/meaty but vleesachtig/vlesɑɣtəɣ/meat-like. -achtig is stress-neutral; the stress of the base is retained, although the affix can carry secondary stress.

A number of words do not obey the generalizations above; examples are waarachtig/wa.rɑɣtəɣ/true, truly, reusachtig/røzɑɣtəɣ/giant and krampachtig/krampɑɣtəɣ/forced. In these cases, the final stem consonant is syllabified as the onset of the affix, it undergoes voicing where appropriate and the stress shifts towards the first syllable of the suffix. This behaviour correlates with a degree of lexicalized idiosyncrasy in the semantics of these words. The case of reusachtig is particularly illustrative as it occurs in two variants, one (2a) displaying the expected phonological and semantic properties while the other (2b) is special on both levels:

Example 2

a. reusachtig
b. reusachtig
giant, huge
[+] Morphological potential

Adjectives ending in -achtig can be input for further derivation, notably nominalization in -heid (meisjesachtigheidgirliness). Moreover, the prefix on- is available wherever it makes sense semantically (onvaderachtignot fatherly, but *onbergachtig*unmountainous). A special case are plurale tantum nominalizations in -en involving taxonomic names for animals and plants and referring to the sort': katachtigenfeline animals.

[show extra information]

The E-ANS mentions the use of such words in the singular when a member of the sort is referred to, as in een katachtigea feline animal. The description seems to suggest that this usage is secondary and may be a case of back-formation from the plural word denoting the species.

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