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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.


What about bridgehead? [Mootguy: The "-head" in "bridgehead" isn't a suffix.]
gregfelton. at

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

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

I thought of beachhead and redhead, but I can see now that they also don't qualify as suffixes.
jpmackay. at

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 ,

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