Using suffixes correctly is a great way to increase your English vocabulary. This post will teach you how to use the suffix -wise with lots of natural examples.
The Suffix -wise
1) in adjectives and adverbs = in the manner or direction of
・Turn the handle clockwise. (Turn the handle in the same direction that a clock turns.)
2) (informal) relating to
・We’re okay money-wise for now. (Relating to issues of money, we are okay. We have enough.)
Keep reading for lots more helpful tips on the suffix -wise plus a video and free printable PDF download. Work on this suffix anytime offline.
The Adjective WISE meaning
All definitions listed in this blog post come from Oxford Learner’s Dictionary dot com.
able to make sensible decisions and give good advice because of the experience and knowledge that you have (comparative wiser, superlative wisest)
- Dan is very clever for a teenager. He is wise beyond his years.
- It’s not wise to disturb a hornet’s nest.
Wise is also used as a verb in the phrasal verb wise up.
wise up (to something)
(informal) to become aware of the unpleasant truth about a situation
- The mayor made a lot of empty promises and citizens are finally starting to wise up to the fact that he can’t be trusted.
- Leon thinks his knee has healed from the injury and is ready to play rugby again. He better wise up and stay in rehab for a few more weeks or risk doing permanent damage.
Adverbs and Adjectives – in the manner or direction of
#1. in the manner or direction of
Below is a list of common adverbs and adjectives that use the suffix -WISE. You will find the word’s definition and some helpful example sentences.
clockwise adverb, adjective
moving around in the same direction as the hands of a clock
- Push the handle in and turn it clockwise to lock the door.
- Sheep in China have been walking in a clockwise circle for 12 days. A video of the sheep has gone viral.
counterclockwise adverb, adjective (North American English)
in the opposite direction to the movement of the hands of a clock
(British English anticlockwise)
- Air currents traveling counterclockwise over the warm water from the lake will bring rain to local communities this weekend.
- Turn the lid counterclockwise to open the jar.
streetwise adjective (North American English also street-smart)
having the knowledge and experience that is needed to deal with the difficulties and dangers of life in a big city
- I always went downtown with Derek. He was tough and very streetwise so I always felt safe.
- The rookie cop was partnered with a streetwise veteran.
lengthwise adverb (especially in North American English)
in the same direction as the longest side of something
- Cut the banana in half lengthwise to make a banana split.
- The recipe says to cut the leeks lengthwise before adding them to the pot.
used to state what the result would be if something did not happen or if the situation were different
- I went to the party because I knew Stephanie would be there. The only reason I went was to see her, I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. None of my friends were at the party.
(informal) to have information or evidence that the opposite is true
- She says she is not angry about what her coworker said, but I know otherwise.
- She says she is not angry about what her coworker said, but I know different.
across, especially from one corner to the opposite one
- You need to fold the flag crosswise before you pack it in its case.
- I made an origami rooster this morning. It took me an hour, there were many crosswise folds that had to be perfect.
The origami looks great but it took me a long time!
widthwise (especially in North American English) adverb
along the width and not the length
- It’s a nice-looking chair but I don’t think it will fit in my office width-wise. My office is quite narrow and my desk is wide so I need a smaller chair.
wise or prudent only in dealing with small sums or matters LINK
Penny-wise and pound-foolish – Smart and thrifty with small amounts of money, but wasteful with large amounts.
- Doug has a hard time managing his finances. He is careful when buying groceries and clothes, always looking for deals, but he overpaid for his car. He is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the main villain from the horror story “IT” by Steven King. The story was made into a TV Mini-Series in 1990 and 2 feature films. First in 2017 and the sequel It Chapter Two in 2019.
likewise adverb (formal)
the same; in a similar way
- My teacher looked at the classroom with his arms crossed, this meant that we were being too noisy. The first row of students sat in silence and soon everyone did likewise.
- I stared at my opponent quite intensely, and he did likewise.
having a lot of experience of life and therefore not easily shocked
- The new president was confident and worldly-wise. People believed in him.
- The country hoped that with a new experienced and worldly-wise head coach, the team could qualify for the next World Cup.
Adverbs and Adjectives – (informal) relating to
#2. (informal) relating to
- Things aren’t too good business-wise.
This use of the suffix -WISE is quite free, you can add it to almost any noun and be understood.
Money-wise means relating to money, weather-wise means relating to the weather, attendance-wise means relating to an event’s attendance for example.
Words like this are quite informal but not uncommon.
- The company picnic is scheduled for next Sunday and we have reserved a small park. Things look good weather-wise, I’m just worried that people can find the park easily.
(Relating to the weather, things look good. We will have good weather for our picnic.)
- The team has been filling the stadium recently, we are hitting all our targets attendance-wise.
(Relating to game attendance, the team is meeting its goals.)
- We’re okay money-wise for now.
- (Relating to issues of money, we are okay for now. We have enough.)
The Suffix -ISH and the Suffix -Y can also be used with a large number of words to make adjectives out of nouns. You can learn more about those common Suffixes here:
- Your complete guide to the Suffix -ISH (Quiz/worksheet) with Video
- Learn The English Suffix -Y (60 examples + Free PDF download) with Video
My spelling and grammar checking software Grammarly prefers to write moneywise with a hyphen (-) money-wise. When the suffix WISE is added to words in this way it is common to write them with a hyphen. Grammarly saves me a lot of time when writing English blog posts, and it’s FREE. You can try Grammarly for yourself HERE.
Suffix -WISE Honorable Mentions
These four words have definitions in Oxford Learners Dictionaries dot com but they are very rare. I almost never hear them and I never use them myself.
However, these are real words so I wanted to include them in this list.
crabwise adverb (of a movement)
to the side, like a crab
- The alien creature burst through the door and started running crabwise across the room. The alien was creepy.
edgewise (especially in North American English) adverb
with the edge upwards or forwards; on one side
- The big chair will only fit through the door if we turn it edgeways.
endwise (especially in North American English) adverb (of an object)
with one end facing up, forwards, or towards the person who is looking at it
- We had to turn the table endwise to fit it in the trunk of my car.
in a series of steps, rather than continuously
- There are many factors causing this skin condition. Treatment requires a stepwise process.
Can WISE be a Prefix?
No. Wise can be used as a suffix but not a prefix. This can be confusing because there are few compound words that use wise as the root word but not as a prefix.
Look at the three examples below.
wisecrack to make a clever remark or joke
- The TV show is about a streetwise cop and his wisecracking partner.
wisecrack a clever remark or joke
- Nelson made several wisecracks during dinner, which had everyone laughing.
wiseacre a person who is annoying because they are very confident and think they know a lot (*NOTE – This is an older expression that was mostly used in North America.)
- Just be quiet for a minute and listen you little wiseacre.
The Suffix -WISE Conclusion
The Suffix -WISE is a useful suffix to learn that means in the manner or direction of and we can also use it quite freely to change nouns into adjectives that mean “relating to” the noun it is attached to.
This is a suffix you will probably hear more than you will use, that’s okay. This is the first step to mastering English communication.
Can you think of any other -WISE words that I left off the list? Please tell me in the comments.
5-Page Suffix -WISE PDF Download
Download your printable PDF E-guide below. (It’s FREE!) PDFs contain the live links from the posts.↓
Check out these other great Prefix and Suffix posts.