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-eus ( /øz/) is a non-native cohering stress-bearing suffix found in adjectives usually based on foreign nouns or foreign bound forms, e.g. comateus like being in coma (< coma coma) and vineus wine-like. There is a number of variants such as -ieus (modieus fashionable < mode fashion), -ueus (incestueus incestuous < incest incest ), -ineus (volumineus voluminous < volume volume) and -uleus (frauduleus fraudulous < fraude fraud). Many -eus derivations may be loans.


-eus ( /øz/) is a non-native suffix found in adjectives based on non-native nouns and roots. The meaning contribution of the suffix varies but is basically having to do with the base, e.g. ambitieus ambitious (cf. ambitie ambition), harmonieus harmonious (cf. harmonie harmony), kwestieus questionable (< kwestie issue), melodieus melodious.

The suffix is stress-bearing, cohering, and the final consonant is voiced /z/ underlyingly, as shown by the inflected form in frauduleuze handelingen /frau.dü.'lø.zə 'hɑn.də.lɪ.ŋən/ fraudulous acts. There is a number of allomorphs, whose distribution is partially governed by phonological properties of the base; the base itself, on the other hand, can change (in terms of vowel deletion, etc.) when -eus or one of its allomorphs is attached (De Haas and Trommelen 1993)

Table 1
formation with -eus base
luxueus luxurious luxe luxury
monstrueus monstrous monster monster
fabuleus fabulous fabel fable
volumineus voluminous volume volume
frauduleus fraudulous fraude fraud
lepreus leprous lepra lepra

Allomorphy can sometimes also be interpreted as stem allomorphy, as in frauduleus: the bound form fraudul is also found in fraudulent fraudulent. Yet another way to look at this variation is that the derivations involved are loans, the changes in phonology and spelling listed in the table are then to be viewed as effects of processes in the source languages.


kakkineus poshy (< kak shit) is the only exception to the generalization that -eus only combines with non-native bases it has therefore a flavour of language play.


Morphological potential: derivations in -eus can be input to noun formation either with native -heid or with non-native -iteit. I the latter case, the vowel eu /ø/ changes into o /o/: cf. monstrueusheid monstrosity with monstrositeit monstrosity, a case of learned vowel backing.


Adjectives nerveus nervous, pompeus pompous and serieus serious do not have a base word with a meaning of its own; they may be viewed as formally complex. Note that they show the same kind of vowel change as bona fine -eus derivations: (nervositeit nervosity vs. nerveusheid nervosity.

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
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