Some endings

  1. Many English words end in -ful and many end in -less. Some pairs of words (e.g., harmful, harmless) differ only by one ending in -ful and the other ending in -less. (These pairs need not be direct opposites.) How many such pairs can you think of in half an hour? (My list, surely incomplete, shows 44 pairs, but 25 is an excellent score, and 18 is very good.) I've avoided archaic words (like ruthful) and obsolete words (like sightful).The following stems can end in both -ful and -less: arm, art, brim, care, cheer, color, doubt, eye, faith, fanci, fear, flavor, fruit, gain, grace, hand, harm, heed, help, hope, joy, meaning, merci, mind, mirth, mouth, need, pain, piti, power, regard, rest, right, shame, sorrow, soul, tact, taste, thank, thought, tooth, trust, tune, use. (All are adjectives except the nouns that result when -ful follows a body part—e.g., armful, handful—to indicate quantity.)

  2. Most words ending in -dom indicate title, rank, or realm (kingdom, dukedom, fiefdom, Christendom) or a condition (freedom, martyrdom, serfdom). Find four common six-letter words ending in -dom where removing the -dom does not leave a three-letter word suggesting the meaning of the full word. (Thus, fandom doesn't qualify.)condom, random, seldom, wisdom. (But wisdom really comes from wise-dom.)

  3. Most longer words ending in -try result from adding -ry to words already ending in t (e.g., artistry, chemistry, forestry). However, most (but not all) -try words of fewer than seven letters are not of this type. How many -try words of five or six letters can you find? (I have identified two of five letters and 10 of six letters.)Five letters: entry, retry. Six letters: gantry, gentry, paltry, pantry, pastry, poetry, sentry, sultry, vestry, wintry. (Note that entry and wintry come from enter and winter. Also, gentry and poetry add -ry to gent and poet, while pastry does not come from past but from paste. Finally, the vestry was originally the room in a church where vestments were kept.)

  4. At least four words that can be followed by -ful and -less in number 1 can also be followed by -some. What are these words?fearsome, flavorsome, handsome, toothsome. (My dictionary also lists joysome as rare, and gainsome as obsolete.)