The suffix first occurs in loans from Old French into Middle English, but becomes productive within English by the 16th century, in some instances properly a combination of -er with -y as in bakery, brewery, but also as a single suffix in terms like slavery, machinery.
- Added to nouns to form other nouns meaning the "art, craft, or practice of."
- Added to verbs to form nouns meaning "place of" (an art, craft, or practice).
- Added to nouns to form other nouns meaning "a class, group, or collection of."
- Added to nouns to form other nouns meaning "behavior characteristic of."