- -ate (1)
- word-forming element used in forming nouns from Latin words ending in -atus, -atum (such as estate, primate, senate). Those that came to English via Old and Middle French often arrived with -at, but an -e was added after c. 1400 to indicate the long vowel. The suffix also can mark adjectives, formed from Latin past participals in -atus, -ata (such as desolate, moderate, separate), again, they often were adopted in Middle English as -at, with an -e appended after c. 1400.
- -ate (2)
- verbal suffix for Latin verbs in -are, identical with -ate (1). Old English commonly made verbs from adjectives by adding a verbal ending to the word (such as gnornian "be sad, mourn," gnorn "sad, depressed"), but as the inflections wore off English words in late Old and early Middle English, there came to be no difference between the adjective and the verb in dry, empty, warm, etc. Thus accustomed to the identity of adjectival and verbal forms of a word, the English, when they began to expand their Latin-based vocabulary after c. 1500, simply made verbs from Latin past-participial adjectives without changing their form (such as aggravate, substantiate) and it became the custom that Latin verbs were Englished from their past participle stems.
- -ate (3)
- in chemistry, word-forming element used to form the names of salts from acids in -ic; from Latin -atus, -atum, suffix used in forming adjectives and thence nouns; identical with -ate (1).
The substance formed, for example, by the action of acetic acid (vinegar) on lead was described in the 18th century as plumbum acetatum, i.e. acetated lead. Acetatum was then taken as a noun meaning "the acetated (product)," i.e. acetate. [W.E. Flood, "The Origins of Chemical Names," London, 1963]