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-aard /a:rd/ is a cohering, stress-neutral Germanic suffix that creates nouns of common gender referring to male persons. Inputs are adjectives.


  • (male) person possessing the property denoted by A

Table 1
derived form base
wreedaard brute < wreed cruel
lafaard coward < laf cowardly
rijkaard rich man < rijk rich
gierigaard miser < gierig stingy
gulzigaard glutton < gulzig greedy
grijsaard old man < grijs gray

[+]Morphosyntactic properties

-aard /a:rd/ creates nouns of common gender referring to male persons (but cf. discussion of other possible –aard formations below). Inputs are adjectives, the process is unproductive (De Haas and Trommelen 1993). The suffix determines the part of speech (the word is a noun) as well as its gender, which is common. Therefore, nouns ending in –aard take the singular definite article de. -erd is considered to be the unstressed counterpart of –aard, but it has its own properties.

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Historically, -aard derives from the French suffix -ard (although analysis as a compound with the adjective hard hard has been proposed as well, cf. GTB). The person denoting suffixes -er, -aar, -erd and -aard may have a different history, but in the run of time, they got mixed.


The general meaning of deadjectival –aard formations can be described as someone having the property denoted by A.

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According to ANS(Haeseryn et al. 1997), derivations with -aard or -erd usually have an unfavorable meaning, but not necessarily, e.g. in cases like grijsaard grey-haired man and vrolijkaard cheerful type. WNT suggests that the suffix itself does not have an unfavorable meaning, but that it mainly selects adjectives that do.

[+]Input restrictions and competition

-aard combines with Germanic adjectives that are either monosyllabic (wreedaard brute, rijkaard rich man) or derived by means of the suffix –ig (gierigaard miser, gulzigaard glutton). The suffix competes with native -erd, e.g. flinkerd strapping fellow (< flink robust). In derivations with -aard or -erd, the stem may not end in /-r/: forms like *stoeraard, *stoererd (< stoer sturdy, stout) and *doraard, *dorerd (< dor barren, arid) are not attested and impossible. Sometimes a /d/ can be inserted, e.g. attested stoerderd sturdy guy. With verbal stems, the most productive suffix creating agent nouns is -er, as in werker worker, with informal variant -erd (also spelled -ert).

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The exact distribution of -aard and -erd is unknown. According to the ANS(Haeseryn et al. 1997), -erd is productive in the Northern standard language, but not in Belgium, where -aard is more productive. Here, the suffix attaches to all bisyllabic adjectives with a schwa in the second syllable: lelijkaard ugly fellow, vrolijkaard cheerful person (these forms are attested in the North, but extremely rare). Nouns in -aard are often slightly pejorative, because the suffix has a preference for unfavorable adjectives (WNT), but formations like grijsaard grey-haired man and vrolijkaard cheerful type are neutral in this respect. Deadjectival -erd formations are rare in Belgium (and perhaps in other parts of the South (Michiel de Vaan, Crit Cremers p.c.)), but dikkerd occurs in the Belgian part of CGN. An alternative to both -erd and -aard to form deadjectival nouns is by means of the suffix –e.

Dronkaard (< dronken drunk) is not exactly an aard derivation: the historical form is dronkert which has changed in analogy with forms in -aard (cf. GTB)

Belgian klinkaard brick is exceptional in that it does not refer to a person but to a thing, and it has a verbal base (klinken to sound). The Northern variant is klinker.

[+]Inflectional properties

Plurals of -aard formations end in –s, occasionally in –en (e.g. whereas grijsaards and lafaards are the forms listed in the dictionaries, and more common in the corpora, grijsaarden and lafaarden are attested on the internet).

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The noun Spanjaard, which is exceptional anyway as it does not derive from an adjective but from a (locational) noun (Spanje Spain) has a plural Spanjaarden in -en. The possibility of plural forms like grijsaarden and lafaarden may be the consequence of the secondary stress on the suffix.

[+]Morphological potential

There is no regular female counterpart for –aard formations: *lafaardin, *lafaardes, *lafaardse, *lafaardster, *lafaarde etc. are virtually unattested. Diminutive formation is possible, but rare, except for lafaardje small/despicable coward. We did not find any –aard formations as the left part of a nominal compound. Nouns in -aard cannot be converted into verbs, and they cannot be input for abstract noun formation by means of suffixes like -heid or -schap. -aard formations with a derogatory meaning can be intensified with the prefix aarts-: aartslafaard extreme coward.

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Formations such as wreedaardig cruel, of a cruel nature are not to be analyzed as –ig derivations of -aard derivations, but as –aardig derivations, where the suffix –aardig ultimately derives from the combination of the noun aard nature and the suffix -ig (WNT).

[+]Phonological properties

-aard is a cohering suffix: syllabification does not respect the morphological boundary, e.g. gulzigaard glutton /ɣʏl.zə.ɣɑ:rt/. -aard does not change the stress pattern of the stem it attaches to, but it can carry secondary stress.

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff