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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):

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) (roodachtig reddish)
  • if X = noun: 'resembling X' (aapachtig apish), 'having a lot of X' (bergachtig mountainous), 'liking X' (pastaachtig liking pasta), 'having the tendency to X' (leugenachtig lying, dishonest)
  • if X = verb: 'having the tendency to X' (huichelachtig hypocritical)
  • if X = word group 'typical of X' (oudemannenachtig like an old man)
  • In addition, there are adjectives with a special, lexicalized meaning, such as waarachtig true, truly, kinderachtig childish, schilderachtig picturesque.

[+]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: turquoiseachtig turquoise-like, safraanachtig saffron-like, including morphologically complex bases such as literair literary > literairachtig quasi literary. Other types of complex bases are compounds (roofdierachtig predator-like) or phrases, including their inflections (jongehondenachtig jong-e-hond-en-achtig young-PL-dog-PL-SUFF like young dogs). In some cases, e.g. with diminutives, a linking-/s/ is inserted: sprookje fairytale > sprookjesachtig fairy-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:

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

Adjectives ending in -achtig can be input for further derivation, notably nominalization in -heid (meisjesachtigheid girliness). Moreover, the prefix on- is available wherever it makes sense semantically (onvaderachtig not 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': katachtigen feline animals.


The E-ANS mentions the use of such words in the singular when a member of the sort is referred to, as in een katachtige a 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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