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.