Last modified on 10 March 2015, at 12:26



Etymology 1Edit

From Proto-Finnic *-lainen, from a toponymic element *-la +‎ -inen. Cognate with Estonian -lane, Veps -laine.

Attested since at least the Bible translation of 1548, which uses it in Mark 7.26 (Grekilainen) and Luke 4.27 (Syrialainen), among other places.


-lainen (front vowel harmony variant -läinen)

  1. Combined with a place name, forms the noun for the inhabitant of a place; or an adjective meaning "of or relating to (the place)".
    Viro "Estonia" → virolainen "Estonian" (person and adjective)
  2. Combined with a name, forms an adjective for a member of an organization or other defined group, a follower of philosophy etc.
    kokoomus (a political party) → kokoomuslainen
  3. Combined with a common noun, forms nouns for people characterized by this noun.
    eläke (pension) → eläkeläinen (pensioner)
    vuokra (rent) → vuokralainen (tenant, lessee)
Usage notesEdit
  • Usually appended to the genitive or nominative singular stem. Sometimes a middle vowel is added to facilitate pronunciation (Hegel → hegel + i + läinen).



Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From compounds with laji (kind, sort) +‎ -inen. The origin as a separate word can still be seen in the imperfect accommodation to vowel harmony.



  1. Combined with a pronoun, forms an adjective relating to the kind or nature of a person or an object.
    erierilainen = different
    eräseräänlainen +subst. = kind of a + subst.
    mikäminkälainen or millainen = what kind of?
    samasamanlainen = similar, of the same kind
    sesellainen = such, of that kind
    tämätällainen = of this kind
  2. Combined with the genitive form of an adjective, forms an adjective indicating a smaller degree of the quality than that described by the original adjective.
    heikonlainen = relatively weak
    oikeanlainen = of a right kind (but not the right one)
    viileänlainen = sort of cool
Usage notesEdit

As this suffix is historically a compound, it is not subject to vowel harmony in the standard language; with the exception of the word yhtäläinen, it always has back vowel harmony. In colloquial use it may have a front vowel variant, however.

Derived termsEdit