By Rocky Reichman
The -dom suffix (pronounced like the word “dumb”) is not as famous as -ing or -ize. But it
is being attached to more and more words. Used more and more often. Which is why it warrants a discussion and should be studied,
because it is so often overlooked.
Kingdom. Dukedom. Wisdom. Fandom. Earldom. Officialdom. Stardom. Boredom. Freedom. This is just a small sample of words ending
in -dom, words whose suffixes are often overlooked.
-Dom is a shortened form of the word dominion. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines -dom
in four ways: “denoting a state or condition: freedom; denoting rank or status: earldom; denoting
a domain: fiefdom; denoting a class of people or attitudes associated with them: officialdom.” The suffix
is used most often for the first reason, “to indicate status or condition.”
-Dom comes from Middle English from Anglo Saxon dom, which translates as “jurisdiction, law,”
A kingdom is “the territory under the dominion of a king,” a king’s dominion. To be kingdomed
is to have the “authority of a king and dignity of a king; to be furnished with a kingdom,” (Webster’s
Dictionary, Unabridged). Boredom denotes the state of being bored. Add the suffix -dom to the word “wise”
and you get wisdom, or “the state of being wise.” “Free” plus -dom equals freedom.
Similarly, -dom is related to the word domain. Domain is defined as “dominion; empire; territory;
under the government of as sovereign; ownership.” Domain originates from Old French domaine, from Latin
dominium, right of ownership, dominion, from dominus, lord, master. (Webster’s Dictionary, Unabridged.)
The suffix -dom is related to many other words. The verb dominate means to “rule, govern.” The adjective,
dominant, means “ruling, prevailing.” Domineer is a synonym for both words. A “dominating
woman” is called a dominatrix (don’t repeat this in front of your wife, please.) Domable, a word
synonymous with dominate yet less common, modifies someone of something that is “capable of being tamed”
or subdued. Domicile, a “permanent home or dwelling,” is related to dominion (the territory over
which someone rules versus a permanent residence). And the well-known domestic relates to “a home or family affairs
or relations; tame.”
Domine and Dom both refer to “a ruler, master.” The word Dom is also used as a title of
respect prefixed to the names of members of the Roman Catholic church. The newest derivative of -dom and domain
is the retronym domain name. A domain name is a Computing term which is “the part of a network address
which identifies it as belonging to a particular domain; the URL that identifies a website.” My favorite is dominicide,
Latin for dominus, master and cadere, to kill). Dominicide is defined as “one who kills his master.”
(Don’t try this at home, guys).
Last but certainly not least comes my very own name. Reichman. “Reich”
is German for “a ruler, king.” No wonder I feel like I’m living in my own world, someplace called “ReichmanDom."
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