English as a Second Language/Suffix -ish


Good day dear experts! Could you please explain the usage of suffix ish in this example from "HIMYM": "So you really thought I was going to kill you?" - "Well, ish". I ran into a similar example in a book "It will explain(ish) things". It's obvious that it means "kind of", or am I wrong? Is it already stated in dictionaries? And how is it stylistically applicable?

Hi Olga,

I don't know what HIMYM is.

There are 3 ways to use "ish."

1) Slang for the explicative "shit"
2) To make a word that does not exist
3) As a suffix to make a word that DOES exist

Below my explanation I have included link to the suffix "-ish."  You will most often see it used as a suffix.

However, when it is not used as by itself, "ish" can be slang for "shit."  The sentence "Well, ish," is only a sentence if "ish" is the slang I speak of.  In which case the sentence means, "Well, shit."  

When "ish" is in parentheses, it signifies that the suffix "-ish" cannot be added to the word because that word doesn't exist. For example, if I want to say something is somewhat fun I could write, "This activity is fun(ish)."  I have to put "ish" in parentheses because "funish" isn't a real word.  

If I want to say something is somewhat green I can write, "The paper is greenish."  "Greenish" is a real word.  When used  as either a suffix OR in parentheses, "ish", it is used to mean that the object encompasses some of the qualities, but not ALL of the qualities.  

Finally, as a general rule, it is only used to make a word that doesn't exist in very informal writing.  I might send it in an email to a close friend, but would not use it in an email to a colleague.  Obviously the same goes with the slang term :)


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Bachelor's Degree, Seattle University

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