Finnish for busy people

Compound Adjectives: hyvännäköinen mutta pahanhajuinen

This article’s focus is on compound adjectives. A compound word is a word that consists of two parts, glued together (e.g. jää+kaappi; jää+kylmä). In this article — as the title says — we will look at compound adjectives like hyvännäköinen and pahanhajuinen.

Table of Contents
  1. What are compound adjectives?
  2. Construction patterns of compound adjectives
    1. Words that are built the same way as in English
    2. More creatively built words
  3. Written as one or more words?

1. What is a Compound Adjective?

Compound adjectives consist of the following parts:

  1. Their first part is generally an adjective, which is sometimes inflected in the genitive case (e.g. musta+tukkainen, hyvän+näköinen; saman+hintainen)
  2. Their second part consists of a noun that’s been turned in an adjective by adding -inen (e.g. koko “size > -kokoinen “sized”; silmä “eye” > -silmäinen “eyed”)

2. Construction Patterns of Compound Adjectives

The next section contains random words, their translation and a word combination that mirrors the translated Finnish compound word. For example, the adjective monimutkainen translates to “complicated” in English, but literally it means “multicurved”. It consists of the words moni “many, multi” and mutka “bend, curve”. The “word + word” column in the table below contains “many + curve” in order to give you an idea of what the word means literally.

2.1. Words that are built the same way as in English

This first section contains words that are a combination of the same words in English and in Finnish. For example, in Finnish, the term for an underaged child is alaikäinen lapsi. Just like in English, alaikäinen is built from the words “under” (ala) and “age” (ikä). Between brackets, I’ve added a noun which could be used in combination with the adjective.

Finnish English Word + word
alaikäinen underage, minor (child) under + age
epätasainen uneven, bumpy, rugged (terrain) non + even
epätäydellinen imperfect, incomplete (memory) non + perfect
epäolennainen irrelevant (question) non + relevant
heikkotehoinen low-powered (system) weak + power
huonokuuloinen hard of hearing (person) bad + hearing
huonolaatuinen poor quality (product) bad + quality
kasvipohjainen plant-based (food) plant + base
keskiluokkainen middle class (upbringing) middle + class
korkealaatuinen high quality (education) high + quality
korkeapaineinen high-pressure (air) high + pressure
kovakantinen hardbound, hardcover (book) hard + cover
kuumaverinen passionate, hot-blooded (person) hot + blood
lyhythihainen short-sleeved (shirt) short + sleeve
matalapaineinen low-pressure (gas) low + pressure
monikulttuurinen multicultural (society) many + culture
monivaiheinen multiphase (plan) many + phase
nopeatahtinen fast-paced (movie) fast + pace
nopealiikkeinen fast moving (opponent) fast + movement
normaalipainoinen normal weight (patient) normal + weight
pienjännitteinen low-voltage, low-tension small + voltage
pitkäaikainen prolonged, long-time long + time
pitkähihainen long-sleeved (shirt) long + sleeve
pitkäjalkainen long-legged (youngster) long + leg
puoliautomaattinen semi-automatic, self-loading (rifle) half + automatic
puolijulkinen semipublic (secret) half + public
puolisalainen semi-secret (meeting) half + secret
pyöreäkasvoinen round-faced (child) round + face
pyöreäsilmäinen round-eyed (puppy) round + eye
suklaakuorrutteinen chocolate coated (cookie) chocolate + coating
suklaatäytteinen chocolate filled (cake) chocolate + filling
suurjännitteinen high-voltage (battery) large + voltage
suurikaliiperinen large-caliber (weapon) large + caliber
täysautomaattinen fully-automatic (system) full + automatic
pitkäaaltoinen long-wave (radiation) long + wave
ylipainoinen overweight (person) over + weight

2.2. More creatively built words

The following table contains words that follow the same principle as the words in the table below. However, these are words where the English word doesn’t have the same type of construction as in Finnish.

Finnish English Word + word
ansiosidonnainen bound/proportional to income (pension) earnings + bind
asiapainotteinen fact-oriented, focusing on facts (text) fact + emphasis
edestakainen back and forth (movement) forward + behind
ennakkoluuloinen biased, prejudiced (view) advance + belief
epäuskoinen incredulous, unbelieving, skeptical (person) non + belief
epäyhtenäinen disjointed, disordered, heterogenous (team) non + uniform
etukäteinen advance, prior (payment) front + cash
harhaluuloinen delusional (patient) illusion + belief
heikkohermoinen nervy, jumpy, highly strung (person) weak + nerve
helppotajuinen easily understandable, intelligible (text) easy + grasp
herkkätunteinen sensitive, emotionally fragile (child) sensitive + feeling
hidasälyinen obtuse, slow-witted, dense (idiot) slow + intellect
hienotunteinen tactful, considerate, discreet (answer) fine + feeling
huono-osainen disadvantaged (socially/economically) bad + part
huonotuulinen bad-tempered, ill-humored (person) bad + wind
hyväkäytöksinen well-behaved, mannerly (boy) good + behavior
hyvämaineinen reputable; prestigious (politician) good + reputation
hyväuskoinen gullible, credulous, simple (customer) good + belief
itsekeskeinen egocentric, selfish (girl) self + center
kaksikerroksinen double-decker; two-story (building) two + layer
kaksiselitteinen equivocal, explainable in two ways (claim) two + definition
kaksiteräinen double-edged (sword) two + edge
kallisarvoinen precious, valuable (present) expensive + worth
keskiaikainen medieval (discovery) middle + age
kolmikerroksinen three-layer; three-story (house) three + layer
kotivalmisteinen homemade (beer) home + preparation
kovaotteinen hard-handed, rough (approach) hard + grip
liikkumisrajoitteinen restricted in mobility (person) movement + limit
lujahermoinen coolheaded, mettlesome (salesperson) solid + nerve
lujaotteinen heavy-handed, rough (father) firm + grip
lyhytkestoinen short-lived, temporary (peace) short + duration
lämpöeristeinen thermally insulated (building) heat + insulation
monikerroksinen multilevel, multistory (mall) many + layer
monikäyttöinen multipurpose (machine) many + use
monimerkityksinen polysemantic, with many meanings (word) many + meaning
monimutkainen complicated (system) many + curve
omaleimainen distinctive, typical (approach) own + stamp
omarahoitteinen self-financed (project) own + funding
pahaenteinen ominous, sinister, ill-fated (event) evil + omen
pahamaineinen notorious, infamous, ill-famed (person) evil + reputation
pakkomielteinen obsessive, manic, compulsive (behavior) compulsion + conception
pitkävaikutteinen long-acting, long-lasting (medicin) long + influence
pitkäkestoinen lengthy, prolonged, sustained (situation) long + duration
puhevikainen speech impaired (patient) speech + defect
raskasaseinen heavy-armed, heavily armed (soldier) heavy + weapon
runsasnesteinen rich in liquid (fruit) abundant + liquid
suoraviivainen linear, straightforward (solution) straight + line
suurimerkityksinen significant, important (decision) large + meaning
tehdasvalmisteinen factory-made, prefabricated (product) factory + preparation
tietokoneavusteinen computer-assisted, computer-aided (design) computer + helped
täysi-ikäinen adult (woman) full + age
varmaotteinen sure-handed, confident (professional) sure + grip
lyhytvaikutteinen short-acting (drug) short + influence
nopeavaikutteinen fast-acting (injection) fast + influence
pintapuolinen superficial, cursory, perfunctory (research) surface + side
mielipuolinen insane (laughter) mind + half
taikauskoinen superstitious (villager) magic + belief
perhekeskeinen family-oriented (man) family + center
pitkävihainen unforgiving, unappeasable (wife) long + angry
selvärajainen clearly defined (methodology) clear + limit
suorasanainen outspoken, blunt, direct (friend) straight + word
tilannesidonnainen situational, tied to a situation (solution) situation + bind
toissijainen secondary, lesser (matter) second + position
tunnepohjainen emotional (decision) feeling + base
vaikeakäsitteinen difficult to understand or conceptualize (topic) difficult + concept
vaikeatajuinen abstract, abstract, cryptic (presentation) difficult + grasp
vainoharhainen paranoid (person) persecution + delusion
vakavarainen financially sound (family) stable + resource
vesiohenteinen water-soluble (paint) water + thinner
vilkasliikenteinen traveled, busy, bustling (city) lively + traffic
vähäliikenteinen low-traffic (road) little + traffic
vähämerkityksinen non-significant, minor (implication) little + meaning
vähäoireinen asymptomatic (patient) little + symptom
vähävarainen poor, lacking money (family) little + resource
yli-inhimillinen superhuman (strength) over + human
ylösalainen upside down (position) upwards + down
haudanhiljainen silent as the grave (church) grave + silent
hiirenhiljainen quiet as a mouse (lapsi) mouse + silent
tuulensuojainen windproof (place) wind + sheltered
kuolemantakainen posthumous, after death (life) death + behind
haudantakainen posthumous, after the grave (life) grave + behind
rajantakainen behind the border, cross-border (neighbor) border + behind
merentakainen overseas (event) sea + behind
mielenvikainen insane, mad (person) mind + defect
lainvoimainen lawful, non-appealable, final (decision) law + force
syyntakeinen guilty, criminally responsible (criminal) reason + guarantee
ajantasainen up-to-date (statistics) time + level
sodanjälkeinen postwar (rebuilding) war + after
kuolemanjälkeinen post-mortem, posthumous (life) death + after
käytännönläheinen practical, down-to-earth (approach) practice + close
hopeanvärinen silver-colored (ring) silver + color
voitonriemuinen triumphant, rejoicing (sportsman) victory + joy
suonensisäinen intravascular, intravenous (needle) vein + inside
solunsisäinen intracellular (receptor) cell + inside
kuunpaisteinen moonlit (landscape) moon + shine
vahingoniloinen fleeful, gloating (person) harm + happy
sydämenmuotoinen heart-shaped (box) heart + shape
pahantuulinen bad-tempered, grumpy, sullen (youngster) bad + wind
hyväntuulinen good-humored, in a good mood (woman) good + wind
tähtienvälinen interstellar (travel) stars + inter
kostonhimoinen vindictive, vengeful (criminal) revenge + desire
murhanhimoinen murderous, homicidal (maniac) murder + desire
vallanhimoinen power-hungry, greedy for power (politician) power + desire
verenhimoinen bloodthirsty, eager to shed blood (fighter) blood + desire
silkinpehmoinen silky soft (skin) silk + soft
tiedonjanoinen inquisitive, eager to acquire knowledge (child) information + thirst
hyväntahtoinen well-meaning, well-intentioned (mother) good + will
velvollisuudentuntoinen dutiful, duteous, does one’s duty (employee) obligation + feel
vastuuntuntoinen responsible, takes responsibility (worker) responsibility + feel

3. Written as One or More Words?

Below, you can find the rules for when such a compound adjective is written as one word and when it is written as two words. This is an issue native Finnish speakers struggle with and learn the rules for in school. I think that — if a Finn makes a mistake in something — it’s acceptable for YOU to also make the same mistake. Let go of perfection!

That said, here are the rules for writing compound adjectives as one word or two separate words:

  • If the first word is a short adjective, the compound adjective will usually be one word (1)
  • If the first words is a longer adjective, the compound adjective is usually two words (2)
  • If the first word is a noun, the compound adjective is usually two words (3)
  • If the first part consists of several words, the compound adjective will contain multiple separate words (4)
  • If the first word is a noun, but the compound adjective’s meaning is fossilized, it can be one word (5)

Words marked with a * can be written both as one and as two words according to Kielitoimiston sanakirja. The numbers correspond to the rules mentioned above in the list with stars.

# Finnish English
hintainen – priced
1 minkähintainen what price
1 samanhintainen* similarly priced
2 sopivan hintainen suitably priced
3 euron hintainen priced at one euro
4 yhdeksän euron hintainen priced at nine euros
arvoinen – worth
1 samanarvoinen* equal, worth the same
1 kallisarvoinen precious
3 luottamuksen arvoinen trustworthy
4 tuhannen euron arvoinen worth one thousand euros
5 kullanarvoinen* worth its weight in gold
kokoinen – sized
1 isokokoinen big, large sized
1 erikokoinen of a different size
2 sopivan kokoinen of a suitable size
3 kerrostalon kokoinen the size of an apartment building
3 Helsingin kokoinen the size of Helsinki
korkuinen – height
1 samankorkuinen* of the same height
2 sopivan korkuinen the right height
3 talon korkuinen as tall as a house
4 viiden metrin korkuinen of a height of five meters
pituinen – length
1 vääränpituinen of the wrong length
3 tulitikun pituinen the length of a matchstick
4 sadan vuoden pituinen a hundred years long
hajuinen – smelling
1 pahanhajuinen malodorous, smelly
2 voimakkaan hajuinen strong smelling
3 pihkan hajuinen smelling of pitch
makuinen – flavored
1 hyvänmakuinen* good-flavored, good tasting
2 katkeran makuinen* bitter tasting
3 jalapenon makuinen jalapeno-flavored
5 paperinmakuinen tasting like paper
näköinen – looking
1 hauskannäköinen* nice-looking, comely
2 omituisen näköinen weird-looking
3 isänsä näköinen looking like his father
tuntuinen – feeling
1 hyväntuntuinen pleasant, feels good
2 tervejärkisen tuntuinen feels sensible
5 todentuntuinen life-like, feels real
oloinen – seeming, perceiving
1 pienenoloinen seeming to be small
2 kireän oloinen seeming to be tense
2 väsyneen oloinen tired-looking
3 ammattitaitoisen oloinen professional-looking
4 pienen lapsen oloinen similar to a small child
mittainen – sized
1 ylimittainen oversized
4 kymmenen sentin mittainen ten centimeters long
4 koko päivän mittainen the length of a whole day
muotoinen – shaped
1 pienimuotoinen small-scale
1 L-muotoinen shaped like an L
3 neliön muotoinen square-shaped
5 sydämenmuotoinen heart-shaped
aikainen – time
1 lyhytaikainen short-term, brief, fleeting
4 koko elämän aikainen life-long
5 sodanaikainen* wartime (e.g. rations)
5 lapsuudenaikainen childhood (e.g. friend)
mukainen – according to
4 teknisen sopimuksen mukainen according to the technical contract
5 tavanmukainen according to our customs, normal
5 tarpeenmukainen according to need, as necessary
tyyppinen – type
1 tietyntyyppinen* of a certain type
2 vastaavan tyyppinen* of a similar type
3 betonin tyyppinen of a concrete type
värinen – colored
1 hopeanvärinen silver-colored
2 kauniin värinen* beautifully colored
3 kastanjan värinen chestnut colored
4 keväisen koivikon värinen the color of a spring birch
5 ihonvärinen skin-colored
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