Meaning of -ous


Pronunciation: [key]
  1. a suffix forming adjectives that have the general sense “possessing, full of ” a given quality (covetous; glorious; nervous; wondrous);and its varianthave often been used to Anglicize Latin adjectives with terminations that cannot be directly adapted into English (atrocious; contiguous; garrulous; obvious; stupendous). As an adjective-forming suffix of neutral value, it regularly Anglicizes Greek and Latin adjectives derived without suffix from nouns and verbs; many such formations are productive combining forms in English, sometimes with a corresponding nominal combining form that has no suffix; cf.
  2. a suffix forming adjectival correspondents to the names of chemical elements; specialized, in opposition to like adjectives ending into mean the lower of two possible valences (stannous chloride, SnCl, and stannic chloride SnCl).
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.