- -ine (2)
- word-forming element in chemistry, often interchangeable with -in (2), though modern use distinguishes them; early 19c., from French -ine, the suffix commonly used to form words for derived substances, hence its extended use in chemistry. It was applied unsystematically at first (as in aniline), but now has more restricted use.
The French suffix is from Latin -ina, fem. form of -inus, suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, and thus is identical with -ine (1).
- -ine (1)
- also -in, adjectival word-forming element, Middle English, from Old French -in/-ine, or directly from Latin suffix -inus/-ina/-inum "of, like," forming adjectives and derived nouns, as in divinus, feminus, caninus; from PIE adjectival suffix *-no- (see -en (2)).
The Latin suffix is cognate with Greek -inos/-ine/-inon, and in some modern scientific words the element is from Greek. Added to names, it meant "of or pertaining to, of the nature of" (Florentinus), and so it also was commonly used in forming Roman proper names, originally appellatives (Augustinus, Constantinus, Justinus, etc.) and its descendants in Romanic languages continued active in name-forming. The Latin fem. form, -ina, was used in forming abstracts (doctrina, medicina). Relics of the attempt to continue a distinction between Latin -ina and -inus account for the English hesitation in spelling between -in and -ine.