-ey and -y in adjectives


-ey and -y in adjectives
-ey and -y in adjectives
The normal suffix used to form adjectives from nouns is -y, as in dusty, earthy, messy. Nouns ending in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel normally double the consonant: fatty, funny, nutty. Some adjectives are formed from verbs rather than nouns: chewy, fiddly, runny. When the root ends in -e this is normally suppressed: bony, chancy, crazy, hasty, nosy, shady, etc. Some adjectives, however, are formed with -ey:
1. Those formed from nouns ending in -y: clayey, skyey. Note that cagey (also cagy) and phoney (also phony) are both of unknown etymology, and do not belong to this category. Fiddly is formed on the verb fiddle, not the noun.
2. Those formed from nouns ending in -ue: bluey, gluey.
3. Holey, meaning ‘full of holes’, is spelt -ey to distinguish it from the adjective holy = sacred.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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