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Using the Suffix -dumbre

Uncommon Word Ending Turns Adjectives Into Nouns

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Question from the mailbox: I have found six words with the ending -dumbre: servidumbre, muchedumbre, mansedumbre, incertidumbre, certidumbre, podredumbre. Where can I find the meaning of this ending -dumbre as it is not in any reference books I have?

Answer: As it turns out, there are around a couple dozen words with the suffix -dumbre. -Dumbre is a not-so-common suffix that means something like the English "-ness" or "-tude." In other words, it's a suffix that makes a noun referring to the quality of the adjective to which the suffix is attached. So, for example, the adjective dulce, meaning "sweet," can become a noun meaning "sweetness" by making it dulcedumbre.

Other examples should make this clearer. Among the -dumbre words, none of them particularly common, are mansedumbre (calmness), servidumbre (servitude or a servant), podredumbre (rottenness or corruption), pesadumbre (sorrow) and certidumbre (certitude or certainty).

Perhaps the most common of such words is muchedumbre, which refers to a great number or, if the context suggests, a crowd or multitude.

Note that nouns ending in -dumbre are typically feminine, like those ending in -tud.

Here are a few sample sentences using -dumbre words:

  • El principio de incertidumbre de Heisenberg dice que es imposible determinar exactamente la posición y el momento de un objeto dado al mismo tiempo. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle says it is impossible to exactly determine the position and momentum of a given object at the same time.
  • Quejumbre es aquella actitud personal que revela un profundo descontento. Whininess is that personal attitude that reveals a deep discontent.
  • La comunidad evangélica venezolana celebró su fiesta Pentecostés con una muchedumbre de 45 mil. The Venezuelan evangelical community celebrated its Pentecost with a crowd of 45,000.

Questions or comments? See the blog post about -dumbre.

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