Other Meanings of –ER
The ending -er is a common suffix in the English language making such words as ‘teacher’ and ‘researcher’ from the verbs ‘teach’ and ‘research’. This prefix, usually meaning “doer” as in the words above, has other meanings too. Let us go through some of the most interesting usages of this prefix along with a few examples for each.
- When we add –er to some nouns, we mean a person/thing that has that quality. We mostly add it to a number or measurement. This signifies a person or thing from some special characteristic or circumstance or simply one that has that feature. Examples include first-grader, double-decker, three-decker, three-wheeler, three-master, sixer (=leader of six people), six-footer, and ten-pounder.
- A variant form of –er is -‘er which is applied to words ending with an abbreviation or (sometimes) a number, such as 4-H’er (=a member of the national youth organization, to improve the head, heart, hands, and health) and 49’er.
- Cases of using –er to mean one that has or one that is (from) include foreigner, Westerner, Northerner, and Southerner.
- Along the same line, it can mean a person belonging to, native of, or resident of a place, e.g. cottager, New Yorker, Londoner, Icelander, villager, and islander.
- The suffix –er can designate a person or thing belonging to or associated with something else, as in header, old-timer, new-comer, high schooler, and prisoner.
- A derogatory usage when added to nouns would mean a person who subscribes to a particular conspiracy theory or unorthodox belief. Anti-vaxxer (=opposed to vaccination), birther (=believing Obama was born outside the US), flat-Earther, and 9/11 truther are a few examples of this usage.
- Another meaning of –er is one that produces or yields something as in porker (=fat young hog), or one that produces a feeling as in thriller.
- The suffix –er can form frequentative verbs, e.g. glimmer, patter, flicker, flutter, shiver, and shudder.
- When added to an action, -er would mean one that is a suitable object of the action or one that undergoes or is capable of undergoing that action: broiler (=part of stove for broiling).
- Two informal usages are added –er to verbs to mean a person or thing to which the root verb can satisfactorily be done, as in a real looker (=a beautiful woman) or a keeper (=a person/thing worth keeping) and adding –er to nouns to mean one who enjoys, as in “Tooners lined up for tickets to Toy Story.”
- In slang, and chiefly for entertainment, the suffix -er can be used to form nouns shorter than the more formal synonyms, such as percenter (=commission agent), one-hander (=one-man show), and oater (=a Western-themed movie).
- Last but not least, Oxford –er. Oxford –er is formed by abbreviating or altering the original word and adding “-er”. Hence, rugger (=rugby football) and soccer (=association football)