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-al1 suffix repr. L. -ālis forming adjs. from sbs. with the sense ‘of the kind of, pertaining to’. It became -el in OF., with which many F. words were adopted, e.g. actuel, mortel; this form, to some extent in F. and gen. in Eng., was refash. after L. as -al, whence L. adjs. in -ālis and F. adjs. in -el have been adopted with -al unrestrictedly.

The L. adjs. were primarily f. sbs., as ōrālis ORAL, f. ōs, ōr- mouth. This type was greatly increased in medL. and modL. and consequently in the Rom. languages by formations not only on L. but on Gr. stems (after L. boreālis, hebdomadālis). In L. itself -ālis was added to existing adjs., as annuālis (f. annuus), infernālis (f. infernus); hence the suffix is added freely in the mod. langs. to many classes of formations, including those with suffixes of Gr. origin, -ac, -ic, -oid (see -ACAL, -ICAL, -OIDAL).