Finnish for busy people

Adjectives with Fixed Modifiers – Yhdysadjektiivit

The name of this post is not incredibly catchy, but it’s the best one I could think of. Adjectives with fixed modifiers (alkumäärite) consist of a regular adjective with an element in front of it that modifies its meaning.

If you’re a beginner, you should focus on the page about adjectives and their opposites, and the colors first. The subject of this page is significantly more advanced. If you like this type of word play, you will probably also enjoy my page on animal comparisons.

These modifiers can have different functions. Some of them make the adjective stronger (ilmiselvä, vuorenvarma), others make it more specific (lumivalkoinen, taivaansininen). Depending on the word, the first segment can appear in either their basic form, or the genitive case.

Finnish English Explanation
hiirenhiljaa as quiet as a mouse hiiri “mouse” (genitive) + hiljaa “quiet”
hiuksenhieno super fine, subtle hius “hair” (genitive) + hieno “fine”
iki-ihana exquisit, ever-lovely iki- prefix “eternal” + ihana “lovely”
ikivanha really old, ancient iki- prefix “eternal” + vanha “old”
ilmiselvä totally clear, obvious ilmi “outright, known” + selvä “clear”
jääkylmä ice-cold jää “ice” + kylmä “cold”
kalmankalpea deathly pale kalma “death (genitive)” + kalpea “pale”
kivikova rock-hard kivi “stone, rock” + kova “hard”
kristallinkirkas crystal clear kristalli “crystal” (genitive) + kirkas “clear”
kullankallis dear/precious as gold kulta “gold” (genitive) + kallis “expensive, dear”
kullankeltainen golden yellow kulta “gold” (genitive) + keltainen “yellow”
kuolemanvakava deadly serious kuolema “death” (genitive) + vakava “serious”
langanlaiha really skinny, emaciated lanka “thread,” (genitive) + laiha “skinny”
likomärkä soaking wet, drenched liota, likoaa (to soak, soaks) + märkä “wet”
lumivalkoinen snowwhite lumi “snow” + valkoinen “white”
läpimätä rotten to the core läpi “through” + mätä “rotten”
patalaiska bone-idle pata “cauldron” + laiska “lazy”
pikimusta pitch black piki “pitch” + musta “black”
pilkkopimeä pitch dark pilkottaa “to be barely visible” + pimeä “dark”
pähkähullu stark mad maybe from pähkiä “to ponder” + hullu “crazy”
päivänselvä clear as day päivä “day” (genitive) + selvä “clear”
raivohullu raving mad raivo “rage” + hullu “crazy, mad”
ratkiriemukas hilarious, side-splitting ratki “ripped, torn” + riemukas “joyful”
ruohonvihreä grass-green ruoho “grass” (genitive) + vihreä “green”
ruutikuiva, rutikuiva dry as dust ruuti “gunpowder” + kuiva “dry”
rutiköyhä penniless probably influenced by “rutikuiva
salamannopea quick as lightning salama “lightning” (genitive) + nopea “quick”
sysimusta jet-black sysi “charcoal” + musta “black”
taivaansininen sky-blue taivas “sky” (genitive) + sininen “blue”
tulikuuma red-hot tuli “fire” + kuuma “hot”
tulipunainen fiery red tuli “fire” + punainen “red”
umpihumalassa dead drunk umpi- (prefix, “complete”) + humalassa “drunk”
umpijäässä frozen solid umpi- (prefix, “complete”) + jäässä “frozen”
umpikuuro stone deaf umpi- (prefix, “complete”) + kuuro “deaf”
umpirakastunut very much in love umpi- (prefix, “complete”) +rakastunut “in love”
umpisokea blind as a bat umpi- (prefix, “complete”) + sokea “blind”
upporikas stinking rich uppo- (prefix, “utterly”) + rikas “rich”
veitsenterävä razor-sharp veitsi “knife” (genitive) + terävä “sharp”
ventovieras complete stranger vento doesnt mean anything in Finnish, but similar words
exist in Estonian and some other cognate languages
vitivalkoinen pure white viti “clean, soft snow” + valkoinen “white”
vuorenvarma dead certain vuori “mountain” (genitive) + varma “certain”

The following list contains adjectives where the modifier creates a nice alliteration in the word: the first and second part of the word start with the same sounds. Many of the prefixes in the following table are not actually Finnish words at all, unlike the previous table.

Finnish English Explanation
iki-ihastunut very charmed, attracted alliteration: i- + ihastunut “infatuated” (with ikivanha as a template)
piripintaan all the way to the rim alliteration: pi + pintaan “to the rim”
putipuhdas spick-and-span alliteration: pu + puhdas “clean”
supisuomalainen very Finnish alliteration: su- + suomalainen “Finnish”
typötyhjä completely empty alliteration: ty- + tyhjä “empty”
täpötäysi overcrowded, full alliteration: tä- + täysi “full”
upouusi brand new alliteration: u- + uusi “new” (upo could also come from upota “to sink”)
vihoviimeinen the very last alliteration: vi- + viimeinen “last” (viho possibly from vihdoin “finally”)
ypöyksin utterly alone alliteration: y- + yksin “alone”
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Michael Hämäläinen

Korpela also lists the following “word-specific intensifiers”:

As the links show, often these words are connected together without a space.


What about these kind of doublets?
Sikin sokin
Mullin mallin
Vinksin vonksin
Sinne tänne
Siellä täällä

Inge (admin)

I’ve had those as a draft article for longer than a year, it’s just hard to get around to finishing anything!


That’s the life…
Once we collected then with my German colleaque, but unfortunately I have lost the list.
I think many languages have something similar, like topsy-turvy or ninnananna (Italian).