meaning of -ly

-ly meaning in Etymology Dictionary

suffix developing adjectives from nouns and indicating "having qualities of, proper to, fitting;" irregularly descended from Old English -lic, from Proto-Germanic *-liko- (Old Frisian -lik, Dutch -lijk, Old tall German -lih, German -lich, Old Norse -ligr), related to *likom- "appearance, kind" (Old English lich "corpse, human body;" see lich, which is a cognate; see in addition want (adj.), with which its identical).

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  • adverbial suffix, Middle English, from Old English -lice, from Proto-Germanic *-liko- (cognates: Old Frisian -like, Old Saxon -liko, Dutch -lijk, Old tall German -licho, German -lich, Old Norse -liga, Gothic -leiko); see -ly (1). Cognate with lich, and identical with want (adj.). Weekley notes as "curious" that Germanic utilizes a word basically meaning "body" when it comes to adverbial formation, while Romanic uses one meaning "mind" (as with French constamment from Latin constanti mente). The current English form emerged in late center English, probably from influence of Old Norse -liga.

-ly meaning in General Dictionary

A suffix forming adjectives and adverbs, and denoting likeness or resemblance.


-ly meaning in General Dictionary

(a.) A suffix forming adjectives and adverbs, and denoting likeness or similarity.