• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all

The stressed, unproductive suffix -inne is found in nouns denoting female persons or animals. The input is usually simplex nouns. Being of common gender, -inne derivations take the definite article de the. An example is liuw lion > liuwinne lioness.

Other suffixes that derive female nouns are -e, -esse, -ske and -ster. Note also the suffix -e that derives female inhabitant names, on the basis of an adjective, however.

[+]General properties

The base words in derivations with -inne are usually simplex nouns, either monosyllabic (e.g. bazinne female boss < baas boss) or bisyllabic with a second syllable with schwa (e.g. ezelinne female donkey < ezel [e:zəl] donkey). We see truncation of -en in for example heiden heathen > heidinne female heathen.

Formations with the suffix -inne have common gender, e.g. they take de the as their definite article. They denote female function names or female animal names. Examples are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
freon friend freondinne female friend
keizer emperor keizerinne empress
bakker baker bakkerinne female baker
fijân enemy fijândinne female enemy
heiden heathen heidinne female heathen
Fries Frisian Friezinne female Frisian
reus giant reuzinne giantess
liuw lion liuwinne lioness
aap monkey apinne female monkey
bear bear bearinne female bear
Thus freondinne female friend is the female counterpart of freon friend and a liuwinne lioness is a female liuw lion. In some cases, -inne does not mean female counterpart of but rather spouse of. For example, a word like keninginne queen is ambiguous or vague between highest ruler of a country, who happens to be female and wife of highest ruler of a country. However, in derivations with the suffix -ske, this ambiguity is more prominent.

In case the base form denotes an animal, a compound with the word wyfke woman-DIM female can be used instead of the suffix -inne. Thus instead of liuwinne lioness there is also the alternative wyfkeliuw lioness, or see wyfke-ezel female donkey next to ezelinne female donkey.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix -inne [ɪnə] bears the main stress of the derivation, for example in ezeLInne. It is cohering, syllabification does not line up with the morphological boundary, e.g. ezelinne [e.zə.lɪ.nə] female donkey < ezel [e.zəl] donkey. This also implies that an underlying voiced obstruent remains voiced. Examples are reus /rø:z/ giant > reuzinne giantess and Fries /fri.əz/ Frisian > Friezinne female Frisian. We see insertion of /d/ after stems ending in /n/, for example freon friend > freondinne female friend or fijân enemy > fijândinne female enemy.

[+]Morphological potential

For its plural, -inne regularly uses the plural ending -en, e.g. freondinnen female friends or liuwinnen lionesses. Diminutives are with the allomorph -tsje, as in liuwintsje little lioness.

Apart from dininutive formation, -inne cannot be input for further derivational processes. Compounding is no problem, for example freondinnerûnte friend-SUFF-circle circle of female friends.


This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:92-93). The suffix is also mentioned in Tamminga (1973:55). The treatment in Veen (1984-2011) is also worth mentioning.

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IIA.J. Osinga
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der (ed.)1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske Taal - Woordenboek der Friese Taal
printreport errorcite