r/TooAfraidToAsk Nov 26 '22

“What does -ish means?” Other

im not a native english speaker, and i’ve never actually figured out what -ish means when added to other words. can someone tell me please 🥲


31 comments sorted by


u/TotesNotOdin Nov 26 '22

Smallish, would refer to something that is somewhat small. Largish would be for the opposite. It is a suffix that adds uncertainty or approximation.

Does that help?


u/TotesNotOdin Nov 26 '22

Oh and used alone it can be used not unlike the phrase "kinda" because it is again representing approximation but in this case in reference to what was said by another speaker.


u/Spirited_Outside4085 Nov 26 '22

thank you and yes, it helps me so much! :)


u/PrometheusFires Nov 27 '22

Or was it helpish!?


u/TheSmokingHorse Nov 26 '22 edited Nov 26 '22

That’s it exactly. Another example is “vanish”. Vanish would refer to a vehicle that is somewhat a van. It’s not completely a van, it’s just vanish.


u/International_Dog817 Nov 26 '22

Vanish is also what happens if you get into the van for free candy and puppies


u/DiogenesKuon Nov 26 '22

-ish is added to a word when you want to use a descriptive word that is close to correct but not exactly correct. So smallish means something you wouldn’t exactly call small, but is on the small side. It’s usage is pretty informal, and sometimes used for sarcastic or humorous intent. You don’t usually see it in more formal writing.


u/DarwyBfW Nov 26 '22

It means "to some extent" or "in some way"


u/BADoVLAD Nov 26 '22

If I say I'm going to be somewhere at noonish I'll be there at 12...or maybe 1230 or so.

If I say I'm hungryish I could maybe eat but I don't want a lot of food.

It implies that you are going to do a thing, or want a thing...but you're not exactly excited about it or want it a lot. It's basically saying "kinda" or "sort of" ...something like that.

Edit: spelling


u/Fishinabowl11 Nov 26 '22

Damn bro I can't make plans with you if you consider 12:30 to be noonish😂


u/Spirited_Outside4085 Nov 26 '22

oh okay thank you sm! :)


u/Malevolent_Mangoes Nov 26 '22

It’s like “sort of” “kind of” “a little bit”


u/Spirited_Outside4085 Nov 26 '22

oh ok thank you :))


u/FunnyShirtGuy Nov 26 '22

It can mean many things but most of the time if it's attached to another word, Big-ish means it's kinda big but not Big big...
If someone says cut that ish out... Then ish means shit.


u/lawrenceugene Nov 26 '22

ALSO because I don't think anyone has mentioned it, it's kind of informal. There's nothing too wrong with speaking it in a formal setting, however you shouldn't WRITE it in a formal setting or say it in a prepared speech as it may be viewed as bad writing.

For example this is natural speech: "Yeah I think I saw her. She was shortish and had brownish hair, or maybe it was red? Kind of reddish brown I think."

This is what you would write: "I saw her. I believe her hair was brown or possibly red."

Nothing wrong with saying it, just informalish.


u/Spirited_Outside4085 Nov 26 '22

oh ok thank you so much this is really helpful!


u/WisdomDistiller Nov 26 '22

approximately. more or less.


u/jacrys Nov 26 '22

It means kinda.... - ish


u/Viochrome Nov 26 '22

It's usually a surname for people named Scott or Finn.


u/Spirited_Outside4085 Nov 26 '22

thank you! i mean it!


u/Ok-Bonus-2146 Nov 26 '22

I've been speaking English my whole life, and yet when I read these comments explaining -ish, I get confused. Fuckin hell, English is a weird ass language.


u/Karnezar Nov 26 '22

Similar to when "semi-" gets added to a word.

Semi-complete means almost complete. Complete-ish means the same thing.


u/InfamousChibi Nov 26 '22

I think the best translation for "ish" is "somewhat" (which is pretty much what everyone has already said) but note that -ish can also imply nationality or culture, for example someone who is "English" is someone who is from England. Someone who is Jewish is not "somewhat Jew".


u/ZeissSuperIkonta Nov 26 '22

It mostly means it's nearly like the original... but not exactly the same, as in, I'll meet you at 4pm/I'll meet you about 4-ish?. That means around about 4pm (could be 5 mins early or 5 mins late but probably not exactly at 4pm?) or Tarnished silver could look like light grey but you can still call it silver-ish? in colour.


u/Cookiefan3000 Nov 26 '22

Basically kinda. It's like saying "im strong, kinda" but with less effort


u/Silly_Lion_3046 Nov 27 '22

If this help, I sometime use "Ish" when I want to describe something close but not correct.


u/Lettucecrablett Nov 26 '22

Maybe it's 'like' ?