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The prefix wan- derives nouns from nominal bases. It basically indicates the opposite of what is meant by the base. An example is hoop hope > wanhoop despair. Most derivations also express disapproval, for example in wanbeteller defaulter (from beteller payer).

[+]General properties

The prefix wan- derives nouns from other nouns. Derivations primarily refer to the opposite of the base noun. In many cases, however, a taste of disapproval is added. In this respect, wan- is similar to ûn- and (with foreign bases) dis-.

Examples of derivations with wan- expressing the opposite of the base form are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
hoop hope wanhoop despair
betrouwen trust wanbetrouwen mistrust
geunst goodwill wangeunst envy
Examples of derivations with wan- expressing disapproval are:
Table 2
Base form Derivation
begryp conception wanbegryp misconception
beteller payer wanbeteller defaulter
bestjoer government wanbestjoer misgovernment
die(d) deed wandie(d) misdeed
belied policy wanbelied mismanagement
ferhâlding relation wanferhâlding misproportion
klank sound wanklank dissonance
smaak taste wansmaak bad taste
produkt product wanprodukt failure
tastân state wantastân abuse
wurk work wanwurk failure


The prefix probably grammaticalized from an independent adjective wan, compare also English wan or wane. The Frisian adjective, although now becoming obsolete, was still widely used in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It had the basic meaning wrong. An example is wat is der wan? what's wrong?Wan could also mean (half-)empty. An example is de flesse is wan the bottle is (half-)empty.

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Other input categories

The prefix wan- can also take adjectival bases, as is described wan- with adjective as base. In a few cases, verbs can be input as well, which is dealt with in wan- with verb as base.

[+]Phonological properties

The prefix is pronounced as [vɔn]. In derivations the stress is on the prefix, as for example in WANbegryp misconception.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:69) and Postma (1901).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Postma, Gertjan1901WirdfoarmingFerjit my net3149-50