I’m always searching for ways to help my private students improve their communication skills. Learning how to use the English suffix -OUS is a great way to increase your English vocabulary.
The English suffix ~OUS is added to the end of nouns and verbs to change them into adjectives. The new adjectives will have the nature or quality of the root word.
|root word||suffix||adjective||~OUS adjective meaning|
|danger (noun)||~ous||dangerous||likely to injure or harm somebody|
|envy (verb)||~ous||envious||wanting something that somebody else has|
Increase your vocabulary by learning the English suffix ~OUS. Turn nouns and verbs that you already know into adjectives by adding the suffix OUS to the end of the word.
The Suffix -OUS News Story
A few years ago I read a story about some dangerous ants that were found in an ocean port in Tokyo. These ants are called ‘fire ants’ and they are poisonous.
I thought this story would be a great way to introduce the English suffix – OUS to my students, and now I want to help the English students around the world who read my blog.
ant [noun] a small insect that lives in highly organized groups.
port [noun] a place where ships load and unload goods
or shelter from storms
From this news story, we used 2 adjectives with the suffix ~ous. Dangerous and poisonous.
dangerous – likely to injure or harm somebody, or to damage or destroy something
poisonous – causing death or illness if swallowed or absorbed into the body
(All definitions in this post come from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)
-ous suffix (in adjectives)
having the nature or quality of
-ous suffix Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com
A simple way to think of these 2 adjectives is to look at the root word, this means the part of the word that comes before the suffix ous.
danger (ous) If a situation has danger it is dangerous.
poison (ous) If something has poison it is poisonous.
Adjectives with the suffix ~ous have this basic meaning.
adventurous – (of a person) willing to take risks and try new ideas; enjoying being in new, exciting situations ~ ready for adventure
- For the more adventurous tourists, there are trips into the mountains with a local guide.
fame [noun] – the state of being known and talked about by many people
“She went to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune.”
famous – known about by many people
~ A famous person is someone who has fame.
- After years of hard work, she became a famous actress.
- When I was 22 I toured the mountainous region of New Zealand. It was beautiful. (The area has many mountains)
More English suffix -ous examples:
If something is full of joy we can call it joyous.
- The children’s birthday party was full of joyous laughter.
If something happened that seems like a miracle, or was completely unexpected and very lucky we can use the adjective miraculous to describe it.
- The fact that he survived the accident with no permanent injury is miraculous.
Over 40 more adjectives with the suffix ~OUS
A synonym of dangerous is hazardous (from the noun hazard)
- risky; dangerous
- Be careful. This barrel contains hazardous material.
A synonym of poisonous is venomous (from the noun venom)
- (of an animal, especially a snake) secreting venom; capable of injecting venom by means of a bite or sting
- This snake is highly venomous.
Some other versions of famous are
- known throughout the world.
- The wedding cake was made by a world-famous baker. It cost $3500.00!
- well known for some bad quality or deed
- The dealer and other poker players are watching him closely. He is an infamous cheater.
More examples – Verbs to Adjectives (Suffix ~OUS)
continuous (from the verb continue)
- forming an unbroken whole; without interruption
- You have to lift and flip the pancake in one continuous motion.
infectious (from the verb infect)
- an infectious disease can be passed easily from one person to another, especially through air or water
- The flu is highly infectious. I often ride crowded trains so I get a flu shot every year to be safe.
prosperous (from the verb prosper)
- rich and successful
- I wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year.
ridiculous (from the verb ridicule)
- deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd
- Greg’s outfit is ridiculous. I can’t believe he wore that to the party.
various (from the verb vary)
- different from one another; of different kinds or sorts
- New treatments can be used to treat various types of cancers.
More examples – Nouns to Adjectives (Suffix ~OUS)
numerous (from the noun number)
- great in number; A synonym of many [Much Many A Lot link]
- People adjusting to working at the office after working at home for many months face numerous challenges.
nervous (from the noun nerve)
- easily agitated or alarmed
- Madison always seems nervous for some reason.
suspicious (from the noun suspicion)
- having or showing a cautious distrust of someone or something
- You said you forgot to pay when leaving the store but I’m suspicious.
mysterious (from the noun mystery)
- difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify
- The cause of the mysterious glass found in the desert may be from an ancient exploding comet
furious (from the noun fury)
- extremely angry
- Ethan was furious when he learned the news.
disastrous (from the noun disaster)
- causing great damage OR highly unsuccessful
- The team had a disastrous start this year. They have a lot of work to do for the rest of the season.
cautious (from the noun caution)
- (of a person) careful to avoid potential problems or dangers
- (of an action) characterized by the desire to avoid potential problems or dangers
- Rebecca has always been a cautious driver. She has been driving for 8 years without an accident.
glorious (from the noun Glory)
- having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration OR having a striking beauty or splendor
- Today was a glorious Spring day.
vigorous (from the noun vigor)
- strong, healthy, and full of energy OR characterized by or involving physical strength, effort, or energy
- Duncan does some vigorous aerobic exercise every morning as soon as he wakes up.
nutritious (from the noun nutrition)
- (of food) very good for you; containing many of the substances which help the body to grow
- It’s important to start your day off right by eating a nutritious breakfast in the morning.
spacious (from the noun space)
- (of a room or building) large and with plenty of space for people to move around in
- The apartment has big windows facing South and a spacious living room.
outrageous (from the noun outrage)
- offensive and unacceptable OR very unusual and intended to shock people slightly
- The president seems to often say some outrageous things.
glamorous (from the noun glamour)
- especially attractive and exciting, and different from ordinary things or people
- I work an honest job but it’s not very glamorous.
luxurious (from the noun luxury)
- very comfortable; containing expensive things that give pleasure
- My wife and I treated ourselves and stayed at a luxurious hotel for 4 nights.
humorous (from the noun humor)
- funny; showing a sense of humor
- The TV show is a humorous look at 6 friends living together in New York City.
gracious (from the noun grace)
- kind, polite and generous, especially to somebody of a lower social position
- I enjoy having dinner with Alex, he’s a very gracious host.
synonymous (from the noun synonym)
- (of words or expressions) having the same, or nearly the same, meaning OR so closely connected with something that the two things appear to be the same
- Being rich is not always synonymous with being happy.
mischievous (from the noun mischief)
- enjoying playing tricks and annoying people
- I was a quiet child but my little sister was quite mischievous.
rebellious (from the noun rebellion)
- showing a desire to resist authority, control, or convention
- Max was a very rebellious teenager. He never listened to anyone.
laborious (from the noun labor)
- taking a lot of time and effort
- We have a huge warehouse, counting and recording our inventory is a laborious task.
superstitious (from the noun superstition)
- believing in superstitions
- People who are superstitious believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. [LINK]
tortuous (from the noun torture)
- not simple and direct; long, complicated and difficult to understand
- After 18 months in court, the family finally saw an end on the long and tortuous road to justice.
industrious (from the noun industry)
- working hard; busy
- Yoshi is an industrious student and quickly learned to speak English at a high level.
advantageous (from the noun advantage)
- good or useful in a particular situation
- Having a college degree it’s not necessary for finding a good job but is definitely advantageous.
treacherous (from the noun treachery)
- that cannot be trusted; intending to harm you OR dangerous, especially when seeming safe
- Ice and snow covered the roads making driving treacherous.
courageous (from the noun courage)
- showing courage
- I’m proud of my brother, he made a courageous decision.
malicious (from the noun malice)
- having or showing a desire to harm somebody or hurt their feelings, caused by a feeling of hate
- I never trusted Andrea. She was always spreading malicious rumors about her coworkers.
monstrous (from the noun monster)
- very large OR very large, ugly, and frightening
- I have a monstrous headache.
- The camper saw a monstrous creature crawl out of the swamp.
ferocious (from the noun ferocity)
- very aggressive or violent; very strong
- A ferocious winter storm blew in from the East last weekend.
victorious (from the noun victory)
- having won a victory; that ends in victory
- After a long and difficult tournament, our team emerged victorious. Now we are the national champions.
harmonious (from the noun harmony)
- (of relationships, etc.) friendly, peaceful, and without any arguments OR arranged together in a way that is pleasant because each part goes well with the others OR (of sounds) very pleasant when played or sung together
- The museum is a harmonious blend of traditional and modern design.
These words came from a list I found with 1000 words that end with ~OUS. Not all the words can easily fit with the noun/verb root word to make a new adjective. Some words are hard to find what the real root is, but they’re all still adjectives. You can find that list here.
Below are three examples of words whose meanings you can imagine but don’t clearly stem from the original root word.
horrendous (from the noun horror)?
- terrible or extremely unpleasant
- The conditions in prison are horrendous. You never want to spend time there.
luscious (from the noun lush)?
- having a pleasingly rich, sweet taste OR (of cloth, colors, or music) soft and deep or heavy in a way that gives you pleasure to feel, look at or hear
- She wore luscious fire-red lipstick that caught the attention of all the men in the room.
instantaneous (from the noun instantaneity)?
- happening immediately
- The response was almost instantaneous.
Suffix ~OUS Vocab List PDF (free!)
Download your FREE suffix ~OUS vocab list from the link below. ↓
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Special thanks to SpellZone for giving me example ideas for this blog post.