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-fy

-fy suffix forming vbs., the oldest of which were adoptions of F. vbs. in -fier, derived from L. vbs. in -ficāre, -ārī (orig. f. adjs. in -ficus -FIC) or modelled on these. The L. words fall into three classes according to the force of the suffix, viz. (i) ‘make’, ‘convert into something’, as ædificāre EDIFY, pācificāre PACIFY; (ii) ‘bring into a certain state’, as modificāre MODIFY, sanctificāre SANCTIFY; (iii) with causative sense, as horrificāre HORRIFY. In medL. -ficāre was substituted for -facere, so that F. and Eng. words in -fier, -fy often corr. to L. words in -facere, e.g. satisfier SATISFY, stupéfier STUPEFY. The suffix normally takes the form -IFY, which has been consequently generalized for new formations (e.g. codify XVIII, indemnify XVII) and has been freely used (esp. for trivial and joc. coinages), with the senses: ‘make a specified thing’, as speechify; ‘assimilate to the character of something’, as countrify (chiefly in pp.); ‘invest with certain attributes’, as Frenchify. An early ex. is beautify; crucify is a special case.

Nouns of action corr. to vbs. in -ify end in -ification; those corr. to vbs. in -efy end in -faction.

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