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-oir is a non-native, stress-bearing, cohering suffix which derives from French. The oldest formations with the suffix are complete loans (e.g. dressoir dresser is already attested around 1350 as dretsoor, see Etymologiebank). -oir is found in adjectives and nouns based on foreign words and roots. It has two pronounciations /o:r/, as in emancipatoir /e.mɑn.si.pa.'to:r/ emancipatory, and /wa:r/ as in reservoir /re.zɛr.'vwa:r/ reservoir. It is not productive.


Adjectives in -oir have a relational meaning having to do with the base (Booij 2002: 108 ff), as in contradictoir contradictory, as a contradiction. They have standard adjectival inflection and lack comparative and superlative forms, due to their semantics.

Nouns in -oir are of neuter gender, selecting the definite singular article het, and have a plural in -s. (De Haas and Trommelen 1993: 268) suggest that such nouns in -oir have a general meaning of location. This seems to be correct for reservoir /re.zɛr.'vwa:r/ reservoir and urinoir urinal, public convenience, but less so for requisitoir /re.kwi.si.'to:r/ requisitory, closing speech (an old loan (1584), see Etymologiebank, which is also found with a plural in -en). The loans boudoir boudoir, abattoir slaughterhouse, dressoir dresser and trottoir sidewalk may be seen as formally complex as well, being neuter nouns with a plural form in -s and a kind of location semantics.

Phonological properties: -oir has two possible pronounciations, /o:r/ and /wa:r/. Most nouns have the latter pronounciation, with the exception of requisitoir /re.kwi.si.'to:r/ requisitory, closing speech. Adjectives are found with both pronounciations, there may be a preference for /wa:r/ in Belgium. Words with -oir pronounced as /wa:r/ contain syllables that are not found in anywhere else in the language, e.g. /vwa:r/ in reservoir /re.zɛr.'vwa:r/ reservoir. De Haas and Trommelen (1993) (based on an earlier edition of the Van Dale dictionary) write (338) that certain adjectives (notoir notoriusprovisoir provisoryemancipatoir emancipatory, suppletoir suppletive) have a spelling variant in -oor (notoor, provisoor, emancipatoor, suppletoor), but these spellings are no longer acceptable according to the official 2005 spelling rules.

Morphological potential: adjectives can be input for derivation with -isch yielding forms like contradictorisch contradictory that appear to be more popular in Belgium than in the Netherlands.

  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
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