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There are just two extant English words that use the Middle English suffix -head. What are they?




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Answer: godhead and maidenhead

The suffix -head carries the same sense as the suffix -hood. Thus, godhead is god-hood, the state of being a god, and maidenhead is maidenhood, the state of being a maiden - i.e. a virgin.

Note that the suffix -head is not the same as the combining form -head, as in masthead. Combining forms CREATE the sense of the word (e.g., the bio- in biology), whereas prefixes and suffixes modify a pre-existing sense.

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What about bridgehead? [Mootguy: The "-head" in "bridgehead" isn't a suffix.]
gregfelton. at .shaw.ca
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Hey! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. And, what about Ayn Rand's Fountainhead? [Mootguy: The "-head" in "Fountainhead" isn't a suffix.]
EverPsyPgh. at .aol.com
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I liked your explanation of prefixes and suffixes modifying a pre-existing sense as opposed to combinations that create the sense of a word. Thanks.
belstrauss. at .yahoo.com
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I thought of beachhead and redhead, but I can see now that they also don't qualify as suffixes.
jpmackay. at .sympatico.ca
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You're right in your distinction between words created through suffixes and prefixes, where the newly coined words nevertheless have a single discernible "stem," and compound words, where the constituent words are, shall we say, equal partners in a joint venture.
jacko, at ,lycos.com
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