-ic

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-ic repr. (often through (O)F. -ique) L. -icus, as in cīvicus, civique CIVIC, domesticus DOMESTIC, publicus PUBLIC, or in adoptions from Gr., as in cōmicus, kōmikó COMIC, poēticus, poiētikós POETIC. The L. suffix became more widely used in late L. and Rom. in the comp. suffix -āticus (see -ATIC, -AGE).

Derivative abstract sbs. end in -icity, as domesticity, publicity.

Gr. words in -ikós were used absol. as sbs. (i) in the m. sg., e.g. kritikós CRITIC; (ii) in the fem. sg., in names of arts, systems of thought, etc., e.g. hē mousikḗ MUSIC; (iii) in the n. pl., e.g. tà oikonomiká ECONOMICS. The distinction between fem. sg. and n. pl. tended to become obliterated, so that hē physikḗ and tà physiká were synonymous. Moreover, in pairs like physikḗ, physiká, both forms gave L. physica, which might be repr. by physic or physics. Early adoptions in Eng. were in the sg. form, which has survived in arithmetic, logic, magic, music, rhetoric. Later, forms in -ics occur as names of treatises, e.g. etiques, i.e. Aristotle's tà ēthiká, the Ethics; this form was then applied to the subject-matter of such treatises, as mathematics, physics, tactics, and finally became the accepted form with names of sciences, as acoustics, linguistics, optics, or matters of practice, as athletics, gymnastics, politics. There are also many sbs. formed from adjs. in -ic taken absol., as cosmetic, epic, lyric, rustic.