What does the same-ish mean?



I encounter such a sentence in a homework assignment:

It seems that the burn-in is adequate, that they are all converging to the same-ish posteriour value, and that there is good mixing.

I don't know if the -ish is appended here just to reduce the extent of sameness? Is it just a synonym of similar or alike and etc?

And can I add -ish to any adjective to convey a same-ish meaning?

Lerner Zhang

Posted 2019-04-02T07:53:49.520

Reputation: 2 015

3ish = 'or thereabouts' – mcalex – 2019-04-02T09:16:27.120

2Whenever I hear someone say 'this-or-that-ish', I append in my mind the words: 'Well, sort of!' – yunzen – 2019-04-02T09:19:37.977

"... they are all converging to similar posterior(u)r values". And "same-ish" would imply that they values were similar enough for whatever purpose they were being used. – alephzero – 2019-04-02T13:24:11.300

It is common English colloquial usage. See this post: When is it appropriate, if at all, to use the suffix “ish”?.

– rghome – 2019-04-02T16:30:57.493

1I agree with your conclusion that it "reduces the extent of X-ness". In this sentence I would replace "the same-ish" by "almost the same" or "roughly the same" – Michael Kay – 2019-04-02T22:07:01.387

Your second question is a dupe of the question rghome linked to, and you should only ask a single question per question anyway. (Notice how different answers are responding to different questions. That's what we want to avoid.) You might want to edit out the second question. – Kat – 2019-04-02T22:19:18.567

1To the extent of my Chinese knowledge, it means "差不多” – The Photon – 2019-04-03T00:54:57.790



Adding an '-ish' at the end of a word is generally done in informal contexts, mostly to make the reference sound deliberately vague and approximate. (Source)

Here, the speaker has added the suffix because he isn't completely sure of the similarity with the posterior value.

You can add the suffix to words, to bring about a hint of uncertainty. For example,

Person 1 : What time is it?
Person 2 : I don't know. I think it should be around twelve-ish?


As pointed out by Michael Kay, if the adjective points to an extreme, then '-ish' implies less extreme; 'small-ish' is less small than small; 'cold-ish' is less cold than cold; 'same-ish' is less similar than same. So '-ish' not only conveys approximation but can also assign less of the characteristic than if "-ish" were omitted.

Varun Nair

Posted 2019-04-02T07:53:49.520

Reputation: 7 920

2Note that if the adjective points to an extreme, then -ish implies less extreme; small-ish is less small than small; cold-ish is less cold than cold; same-ish is less similar than same. So it's not just approximate or vague; it's explicitly assigning less of the characteristic than if "-ish" were omitted. – Michael Kay – 2019-04-02T22:02:05.590


Another answer already explains the meaning of -ish, but I'd like to address this question you also asked:

can I add -ish to any adjective to convey a same-ish meaning?

My answer to that would be: perhaps – but don't overdo it.

The suffix works well for some adjectives, such as colors:

They're so slow that sedentary that algae grows on their coats, giving sloths a greenish tint that can be used as camouflage in the trees. (Indianapolis Star, 2018)

However, I would NOT recommend applying the suffix haphazardly to just about any adjective. There are many cases where an -ish suffix would sound, well, amateurish, where it would probably be better to avoid using it, especially in formal contexts.

For example, consider size adjectives. Adjectives that connote extremes (such as tiny, infinitesimal, massive, or vast) don't work very well with -ish, and the ngrams reflect that.

Also, if a friend asked if I was hungry, I suppose I could say, "I'm hungryish," but most natives would opt for a phrase like, "I'm kind of hungry," or "I'm a little hungry," instead, and the ngrams support that, too.

Other adjectives that sound odd with -ish would include: delicious, tired, or miserable, but faint and loud seem to work okay:

Two-thirds the way along the Arcturus-to-Vega line brings you to a pattern of four faintish stars resembling the shape of the stone block (The Telegraph, 2017)

On Monday night, a few dozen noodleists came out for cocktails, soup, loudish Ramones and the bar's retro, antique-radio vibe. (New York Times, 2014).

If your spellchecker puts a red squiggly line under a word with -ish, it might be better to use an adverb like rather instead. (For example: He was rather thirsty after the game might be a safer option than He was thirstyish after the game.)


Posted 2019-04-02T07:53:49.520

Reputation: 108 123

2often when writing, people (at least in Britain), place a hyphen before the -ish suffix. There is a well known brand of ready made sauces in the UK, and they used to have TV ads featuring the same family. One seasonal ad played on the fact that people would have leftover turkey for some time after Christmas. The mother announced at supper time that they were having curry. The daughter speaks for them all when she says "It isn't turkey again, is it?" Mother says "Well, it's turk-ish". – Michael Harvey – 2019-04-02T19:32:55.757

1Some devout UK Jews describe themselves thus and denounce their less fervent brethren as being "Jew-ish". – Michael Harvey – 2019-04-02T19:35:49.580

The reason "massive-ish" doesn't work very well is because "massive" means "very big" and "ish" means" not very", so "massive-ish" contradictory. – Acccumulation – 2019-04-03T02:53:59.400

Isn't there an extra "that" in "They're so slow that sedentary that algae grows on their coats"? I see you are quoting the Indianapolis Star word by word, but I think it's a copy/paste error from the original National Geographic article

– Fabio says Reinstate Monica – 2019-04-03T09:21:01.603


Same-ish basically means- kind of similar/somewhat similar.

mahadia rahman

Posted 2019-04-02T07:53:49.520

Reputation: 84