From Anglo-Norman -if (feminine -ive), from Latin -ivus. Until the fourteenth century all Middle English loanwords from Anglo-Norman ended in -if (compare actif, natif, sensitif, pensif etc.), and under the influence of literary Neo-Latin both languages introduced the form -ive. Those forms that have not been replaced were subsequently changed to end in -y (compare hasty, from hastif, jolly, from jolif etc.).
Like the Latin suffix -io (genitive -ionis), the Latin suffix -ivus is appended to the perfect passive participle to form an adjective of action.
- An adjective suffix signifying relating or belonging to, of the nature of, tending to, or serving to; as: affirmative, active, conclusive, corrective, diminutive.
- -ive in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- Miller, D. Gary (2006) Latin Suffixal Derivatives in English and Their Indo-European Ancestry, Oxford University Press, page 204
- Alternative form of