English as a Second Language/an example with suffix -ish


Hello Amy! I've just sent the same question to one of your collegues and only then noticed that it was outside their competence. Hope you can help me with my question. Is it possible to say "strange-soundingish words"? What will be the stylistical or other difference from just "strange sounding"? and when can a person say "strange-soundingish words"? Thank you for answering!

Hi Olga,

to the best of my knowledge 'ish' as a suffix, can be used in 2 instances

1. To generate a new word (one you can find in the dictionary): for ex bluish - meaning somewhat blue, sheepish - meaning embarassed, resembling a sheep in timidity and so on; and

2. In informal speech to generate a new word that does not exist in the dictionary but that has approximately the same meaning as the original word, or it makes it more vague: for ex ugly-ish - meaning somewhat ugly, OK-ish - almost OK, five-ish - almost five, well-ish - fairly well, etc.

As far as the example you have in mind, I guess you can say 'strange-ish sounding words' in an informal setting (for ex when chatting with a friend, or in an unofficial email to a coworker or a relative).

Please keep in mind that the word 'strange-ish' does not exist in the dictionary and when you write it you should either use a hyphen: strange-ish, or parentheses: strange(ish) to show that you are aware of that fact.

In respect to the meaning of the phrase: 'strange-ish sounding words' would mean that the words you're referring to sound somewhat strange (to you).

I hope this answers your question.

Please feel free to follow up with me if you require further clarifications.



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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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