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-ous adj. suffix denoting ‘characterized by’, ‘having the quality of’, ‘full of’, ‘abounding in’, repr. ult. L. -ōsus, -ōsa, -ōsum (cf. -OSE1); first appearing as -os, -us — AN., OF. -os, -us, mod. -eux (e.g. coveitos, coveitus COVETOUS).

The addition of -ous to L. stems of many types became the commonest mode of anglicizing L. adjs. ending in -eus, -ius, -uus, -āci-, -ōci-, -endus, -ulus, -ōrus, etc., e.g. aqueous, atrocious, nefarious, stupendous, garrulous, and of forming adjs. directly from sbs. of all origins; see also -EOUS, -IOUS, -UOUS; rel. sbs. have -OSITY.

In chem. -ous indicates a larger proportion of the element denoted by the stem than the termination -ic, as cuprous, ferrous.