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This Proto-Slavic entry contains reconstructed terms and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



By secondary thematicization of older consonant-stem, e.g.

This is comparable to the treatment of ī/ih₂-stems in Latin, in the suffix -trīx, compare:

The primary function in PIE, also retained in Proto-Slavic, was thus to create feminines, substantivized feminine adjectives. The diminutive function is closely related to the structural element */-k-ā/, and has parallels in other suffixes: *-ьka, *-ъka, *-ika, *-ьkъ, *-ъkъ.


*-ica f (sometimes m, see usage notes)

  1. Denominal, forming diminutives.
    *děva (girl, maiden)*děvica ((a little) girl)
    *muxa (fly)*mušica ((a small) fly)
    *noga (leg)*nožica ((a small) leg)
    *rǫka (hand)*rǫčica ((a small) hand)
    *oldi, *oldьje (ship, boat)*oldьjica ((a small) ship, boat)
    *ryba (fish)*rybica ((a small) fish)
  2. Denominal, forming feminine counterparts of masculine nouns.
    *cěsařь (emperor)*cěsařica (empress)
    *lisъ (a male fox)*lisica (a female fox)
  3. Denominal, forming nouns denoting something related to the meaning of the baseword.
    *buky, *bukъve (beech)*bukъvica (beech fruit)
    *bъrъ (a kind of millet)*bъrica (a variety of wild millet)
  4. Deadjectival, denoting a carrier of a property.
    *pьjanъ (drunk)*pьjanica (drunkard)
    *desnъ (right)*desnica (right hand)
    *čьrnъ (black)*čьrnica (something or somebody black)
    *starъ (old)*starica (old woman)
    *zoltъ (golden)*zoltica (something golden)
  5. (rare) Deadjectival, forming abstract nouns.
    *blědъ (pale)*blědica (paleness)
    *blědьnъ (pale)*blědьnica (paleness)
  6. (rare) Deverbal, forming agent nouns and nomina instrumenti.
    *daviti (to choke, gag, stifle)*davica (that who/which chokes)
    *plęsati (to dance)*plęsica (dancer)


Usage notes[edit]

Forming feminine counterparts of masculine nouns is particularly productive in South Slavic. North Slavic normally prefers the suffix *-ьka / *-ъka instead.

Diminutive formations are particularly productive in South Slavic (especially Old Church Slavonic and Serbo-Croatian, which do not have diminutive reflexes of suffixes *-ьka / *-ъka). North Slavic has the suffix preserved in relics, and prefers the suffix *-ьka / *-ъka instead.

Agent and instrument nouns formations are secondary, and were originally based on the primary adjective, noun or participle, and later semantically influenced by the corresponding verb. E.g.

  • *bъrzica (fast flowing river; a fast human or animal)*bъrzъ (fast) : *bъrziti (to rush, hurry, haste)
  • *bujica (torrent, rapid stream)*bujь (unrestrained, violent, fierce) : *bujiti (to rapidly, vigorously grow, surge, swell)

Some agent nouns on *-ica, such as *pьjanica (drunkard), can also be masculine, which is especially productive in Serbo-Croatian.

Accent depends on that of the baseword. In case of oxytonic and circumflexed base, usually the suffixal *-i- is acuted. Derivations from acuted basewords usually preserve the acute (e.g. *ba̋bica, *sta̋rica).


Derived terms[edit]

  • *-ьnica (with *-ьn- element abstracted away from denominal derivations on *-ьnъ)
  • *-avica (with *-av- element abstracted away from agent nouns on *-ava and adjectives on *-avъ)

Related terms[edit]

  • *-ikъ (masculine counterpart)


  • East Slavic:
    • Old East Slavic: -ица (-ica)
  • South Slavic:
  • West Slavic:


  • Šekli, Matej (2012), “Besedotvorni pomeni samostalniških izpeljank v praslovanščini”, in Philological Studies[1] (in Slovene), volume 10, issue 1, Skopje, Perm, Ljubljana, Zagreb, pages 115–32
  • Halla-aho, Jussi (2006) Problems of Proto-Slavic Historical Nominal Morphology: On the Basis of Old Church Slavic (Slavica Helsingiensia; 26), Helsinki: University of Helsinki, page 85f
  • Sławski, Franciszek, editor (1974), “*-ica”, in Słownik prasłowiański [Proto-Slavic Dictionary] (in Polish), volume 1 (a – bьzděti), Wrocław: Ossolineum, page 98