What does -ling mean?

-ling meaning in Etymology Dictionary

diminutive word-forming factor, very early 14c., from Old English -ling a nominal suffix (maybe not originally diminutive), from Proto-Germanic *-linga-; attested in historical Germanic languages as a straightforward suffix, but probably representing a fusion of two suffixes: 1. that represented by English -le (thimble, handle), from Old English -ol, -ul, -el, representing PIE *-lo- (see -ule); and 2. -ing, suffix indicating "person or thing of a certain sort or source;" in masculine nouns additionally "child of" (farthing, atheling, Old English horing "adulterer, fornicator"), from PIE *-(i)ko- (view -ic). Both these suffixes had occasional diminutive power, but it was just a little evident in Old English -ling and its equivalents in Germanic languages except Norse, in which it commonly was utilized as a diminutive suffix, especially in words designating the young of creatures (such g


-ling meaning in General Dictionary

A noun suffix, generally having a diminutive or a depreciatory power; such as duckling, gosling, hireling, fosterling, firstling, underling.

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  • An adverbial suffix; because, darkling, flatling.

-ling meaning in General Dictionary

A noun suffix, commonly having a diminutive or a depreciatory force; like in duckling, gosling, hireling, fosterling, firstling, underling.

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  • An adverbial suffix; since, darkling, flatling.