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-ier (French)

The element -ier /je:/ is an unproductive, stress-bearing non-native cohering suffix found in nouns of common gender denoting male professions based on non-native nouns and bound forms, such as cabaretier /ka.ba.rɛ.'tje:/ cabaret performer (< cabaret) and hotelier /ho.tɛl.'tje:/ hotelier (< hotel). Plural forms are in -s.


The suffix ier ( /je:/) is found in personal nouns. Bases are nouns and bound forms of foreign origin. ier formations usually denote profession of male persons:

Table 1
formation in-ier meaning base
cabaretier someone who works in a cabaret, cabaret performer cabaret cabaret
hotelier hotel owner, hotelier hotel hotel
romancier someone who writes novels, novelist roman novel
douanier customs officer douane customs
Various formations in ier may be loans from French or other neighbouring languages (cf. romancier and hotelier).

Haas (1993: 214) hypothesize that the nominal base should end in a dental consonant; as a potential exception they mention costumier costumier, dresser. If the base ends in schwa, this is deleted, e.g. douanier customs officer (< douane customs), ambulancier paramedic (< ambulance ambulance).

Formations in -ier are of common gender, selecting the singular definitie article de. Plurals are formed with the suffix -s: cabaretiers cabaret performers, hoteliers hoteliers. Female equivalents are formed with the suffix -ière, e.g. cabaretière female cabaret performer.

The suffix -ier bears stress and is cohering: syllabification does not respect the morphological structure, e.g. cabaretier cabaret-ier /ka.ba.rɛ.'tje:/ cabaret performer.

Note that there is a homograph suffix with a different pronunciation -ier /ier/ that is found in professional names such as herbergier inn-keeper and avonturier adventurer.

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