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Pronunciation: (u, ur), [key]
(used to express or represent a pause, hesitation, uncertainty, etc.).


1. efficiency report.
2. See emergency room.


Symbol, Chem.


1. a suffix used in forming nouns designating persons from the object of their occupation or labor (hatter; tiler; tinner; moonshiner), or from their place of origin or abode (Icelander; southerner; villager), or designating either persons or things from some special characteristic or circumstance (six-footer; three-master; teetotaler; fiver; tenner).
2. a suffix serving as the regular English formative of agent nouns, being attached to verbs of any origin (bearer; creeper; employer; harvester; teacher; theorizer). Cf. -ier1, -yer.


a noun suffix occurring in loanwords from French in the Middle English period, most often names of occupations (archer; butcher; butler; carpenter; grocer; mariner; officer), but also other nouns (corner; danger; primer). Some historical instances of this suffix, as in banker or gardener, where the base is a recognizable modern English word, are now indistinguishable from denominal formations with -er1, as miller or potter.


a termination of nouns denoting action or process: dinner; rejoinder; remainder; trover.


a suffix regularly used in forming the comparative degree of adjectives: harder; smaller.


a suffix regularly used in forming the comparative degree of adverbs: faster.


a formal element appearing in verbs having frequentative meaning: flicker; flutter; shiver; shudder.


a suffix that creates informal or jocular mutations of more neutral words, which are typically clipped to a single syllable if polysyllabic, before application of the suffix, and which sometimes undergo other phonetic alterations: bed-sitter; footer; fresher; rugger. Most words formed thus have been limited to English public-school and university slang; few, if any, have become current in North America, with the exception of soccer, which has also lost its earlier informal character. Cf. -ers.


1. East Riding (Yorkshire).
2. East River (New York City).
3. King Edward.
4. Queen Elizabeth.
5. See emergency room.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

See also:
  • er (Thesaurus)
  • er (Encyclopedia)


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