Finnish for busy people

Words ending in KKO or KKÖ – Finnish derivation

Finnish has a fairly large group of words ending in KKO or KKÖ. They can be derived from verbs, adjectives or nouns. Noun-based words are the most common.

The most common meaning for these words is a collective: they refer to a group of things as one entity. For example, the word aallokko refers to a collection of waves (a “surf” or “swell” in English) and is derived from the noun aalto “wave”.

To guide beginner or intermediate learners, I’ve marked the easiest and most common words in green in the tables below. Start by learning these!

1. Words with a collective meaning

The words in this section have a collective meaning, ie. they describe an entity that consists of multiple of the base word.

To demonstrate the neatness of this system, let me first introduce a couple of such words:

  • Naulakko means “coatrack”. It’s based on the word naula “nail”. One coat can be hung on a nail (or a hook), but if you have multiple nails, you get a naulakko. This word refers both to the horizontal type of coatrack with hooks in a row and the coatstand.
  • Pensaikko refers to a thicket of bushes. It’s based on the word pensas “bush”. If there are many bushes close to one another in an area, you get a pensaikko.
  • Portaikko means “stairway” or “staircase”. It’s based on the word porras which means one step on stairs. The plural form portaat is used when you mean all the stairs, while portaikko refers to the multiple stairs forming a staircase.
  • Männikkö means a small forest (a grove) populated with pines, from the noun mänty “pine tree”. This model can be used for other tree types as well: koivikko for a forest of birch trees (koivu), katajikko for a forest of juniper trees (kataja), etc.

1.1. Collective nouns related to nature

Key words for this section: “made of”, “containing”.

The following collective nouns all have a noun as their base. Words marked with #1 all refer to areas with a certain type of trees, such as kuusikko for a forest with predominantly spruces and pajukko for a place where mainly willows grow.

Words marked with #2 refer to an area or place that has a certain type of plants or other vegetation, such as kaislikko for an area with many reeds and taimikko for a place where there are lots of new saplings growing. Words marked with #3 are other miscellaneous nature-related collective words.

# -kko Translation Base word
1 metsikkö small forest, grove from metsä “forest”
1 kuusikko spruce forest from kuusi “spruce, fir”
1 koivikko birch forest from koivu “birch tree”
1 männikkö pine forest from mänty “pine tree”
1 hongikko pine forest from honka “tall handsome pine tree”
1 katajikko juniper forest from kataja “juniper”
1 haavikko aspen forest from haapa “aspen tree”
1 pajukko willow forest from paju “willow”
1 lepikkö alder wood from leppä “alder tree”
1 kannokko area with many tree stumps from kanto “tree stump”
1 viidakko jungle from viita (dense forest of deciduous trees)
2 heinikko meadow from heinä “hay”
2 karikko range of rocks from kari “rock near/in water”
2 ruohikko grass field, lawn from ruoho “grass”
2 nurmikko maintained lawn from nurmi “lawn”
2 pensaikko thicket of bushes from pensas “bush”
2 kaislikko bed of reeds, rushes from kaisla “reed, bulrush” (near water)
2 ruoikko bed of reeds, reed banks from ruoko “reed” (often hollow stem)
2 risukko brushwood, thicket from risu “twig”
2 vesakko coppice (many sprouts) from vesa “sprout, sprig”
2 juurakko network of roots, rootstock from juuri “root”
2 taimikko group of saplings from taimi “sapling, young tree/plant”
2 sammalikko moss-covered area from sammal “moss”
2 vatukko raspberry thicket from vattu “raspberry”
2 kortteikko area where horsetail grows from korte “horsetail” (plant: link)
2 kanervikko heathland, area of heather from kanerva “heather” (plant: link)
3 aallokko swell, surf from aalto “wave”
3 rannikko coast, shore from ranta “beach”
3 jäätikkö glacier, ice sheet from jää “ice”
3 valjakko animals pulling something from valjaat “harness, rein”
3 ratsukko horse and its rider from ratsu “steed, mount”
3 koirakko dog and its trainer from koira “dog”

2. KKO words that refer to a single object or person

2.1. KKO words that refer to a singular person

Most of the words ending in KKO that refer to a person are created from a loanword. For example, the word teknikko is clearly related to the English “technician”. For these words, it can be a little unclear what the base word is: does teknikko come from the adjective tekninen “technical”, for example, or has it been derived from the noun tekniikka “technology”. While this is interesting to ponder, you get the gist even without knowing the exact etymology.

-kko Translation Base word
koomikko comedian from koominen “comical”
kyynikko cynic from kyyninen “cynical”
neurootikko neurotic person from neuroottinen “neurotic”
maallikko layman from maallinen “earthly”
skeptikko sceptic from skeptinen “skeptical”
eksentrikko eccentric person from eksentrinen “eccentric”
allergikko allergic person from allerginen “allergic”
poleemikko polemic person from poleeminen “polemic”
teknikko technician from tekninen “technical”
teoreetikko theorist from teoreettinen “theoretical”
agnostikko agnostic person from agnostinen “agnostic”
atleetikko athlete from atleettinen “athletic”
satiirikko satirist from satiirinen “satirical”
hupakko scatterbrained person from hupsu “silly” (uncertain etymology)
uskalikko daredevil from uskalias “daring”
älykkö intellectual from älykäs “intelligent”
anorektikko anorexic person from anoreksia “anorexia”
buliimikko bulimic person from bulimia “bulimia”
afaatikko aphasic person from afasia “aphasia”
dementikko demented person from dementia “dementia”
diabeetikko diabetic person from diabetes “diabetes”
maanikko manic person, maniac from mania “mania”
astmaatikko asthmatic person from astma “asthma”
akateemikko academic person from akatemia “academy”
muusikko musician from musiikki “music”
karjakko milkmaid, dairymaid from karja “cattle”
tosikko a humorless person from tosi “real”
häirikkö lout, troublemaker from häiritä “to disturb, bother”
villikko mischief-maker from villi “wild”
ummikko monolingual person from umpi “closed on one end, internal”
nuorikko young bride from nuori “young” (see also below)

There is a large portion of KKO words describing a person that have a noun connected to them that ends in KKA (e.g. matematiikka “mathematics” vs. matemaatikko “mathematician”). I have a separate article about those here.

2.2. KKO words that refer to a singular nature thing

Earlier in this article, I listed nature words that refer to an entity consisting of many individual parts, such as koivikko for a forest consisting of many birch trees. In addition to those collective nouns, there are also fairly many KKO words that refer to a single animal (#1) or plant (#2).

# -kko Translation Base word
1 nuorikko young chicken from nuori “young” (see also above)
1 rusakko brown hare from ruskea “brown”
1 emakko sow (female pig) from emä “(animal) mother”
1 liinakko chestnut horse from liina (the markings resemble stripes of cloth)
1 lumikko weasel from lumi “snow”
1 vesikko mink from vesi “water”
1 untuvikko nestling from untuva “fluff feathers”
1 haavakko wounded animal from haava “wound” (a term hunters use)
2 esikko primula (link) from esi “pre-, fore-” (they flower early in spring)
2 illakko dame’s rocket (link) from ilta “evening” (they smell stronger in the evening)
2 punakko velvetbells (link) from punainen “red” (but they’re mostly purple)
2 tervakko campion (link) from terva “tar” (they excrete a tar-like substance)
2 haarikko pearlwort (link) from haara “branch, fork”
2 unikko poppy from uni “sleep” (because of its effects when eaten)
2 limakko plasmodium (link) from lima “slime” (also called “slime mold”)
2 solukko tissue (biology) from solu “cell”

2.3. Other KKO words based on nouns

The following words are also very useful but didn’t fit in the previous sections.

-kko Translation Base word
naulakko coat rack from naula “nail”
hyllykkö shelving, shelf unit from hylly “self”
lokerikko organizer cabinet from lokero “compartment”
sokerikko sugar bowl from sokeri “sugar”
kermakko creamer (jug) from kerma “cream”
liivakko gelatin leaf (= liivatelehti) from liivate “gelatin”
mausteikko cruet, condiment stand from mauste “spice”
rullakko trolley (wheeled) from rulla “roll, roller”
portaikko staircase, stairway from porras “step, stair”
luodikko hunting rifle from luoti “bullet”
haulikko shotgun, shattergun from hauli “pellet, buckshot”
jouhikko Finnish lyre (link) from jouhi “horsehair” (the material of the strings)
silmikko visor (of helmet) from silmä “eye” (it goes before your eyes)
maljakko vase from malja “bowl”
lasikko vitrine, display case from lasi “glass” (panes made of glass)
klassikko a classic (e.g. book, film) from klassinen “classical”
kapeikko strait, narrow place from kapea “narrow”
pehmeikkö soft section in terrain from pehmeä “soft”
ylläkkö raid, surprise attack from yllätys “surprise” or yllättää “to surprise”
säleikkö lattice, trellis from säle “slat, strip”
ristikko grid, grill / crossword puzzle from risti “cross”
ruudukko grid, crisscross from ruutu “square”
kehikko framework from kehä “circumference”
varikko depot, paddock from vara “spare, reserve”
pylväikkö row of pillars, colonnade from pylväs “column, pillar”
asteikko scale (displaying degrees) from aste “degree”
koneikko unit of connected machines from kone “machine”
tadikko pitchfork from tade “muck, manure” (old word)
talikko pitchfork (see above) from tade (d gets replaced with l in some dialects)

3. Nouns based on adjectives / numbers / adverbs / verbs

Some collective nouns are based on an adjective. These generally refer to a natural place or an area that has the quality of the adjective. You can find some other miscellaneous words below as well.

-kko Translation Base word
aavikko desert (lots of space) from aava “open, wide”
karheikko rough (unmown part of golf course) from karhea “rough”
tiheikkö thicket (place with dense bushes/trees) from tiheä “thick / dense”
matalikko shallow body of water (e.g. sandbank) from matala “low”
kosteikko wetland (marshy, soggy area) from kostea “damp, moist”
karukko barren area from karu “barren, bleak”
monikko plural from moni “many”
yksikkö singular, unit from yksi “one”
kaksikko duo, pair from kaksi “two”
kolmikko trio, threesome from kolme “three”
nelikko quartet, foursome from neljä “four”
viisikko quintet, fivesome from viisi “five”
valikko menu (e.g. drop down) from valita “to choose”
häirikkö troublemaker from häiritä “to disturb, to bother”
kolikko coin from kolista “to clatter”
rynnäkkö ground attack, charge from rynnätä “to rush, to bolt”

4. Diminutive words

Some words ending in KKO can be seen as diminutive derivatives: they express the “smallness” of the base word.

-kko Translation Base word
lammikko puddle from lampi “pond”
puistikko small park from puisto “park”
kepakko thin, long stick from keppi “stick”

4. Uncertain etymology

The following words have either an unclear etymologic background, or their meaning has diverged from the base word. Many of these words are very common and useful to learn.

Base word Derivate Derivate
otsikko headline / title from otsa “forehead”
päällikkö chief / commander from päällinen “covering”
ennakko prepayment from ensi “first”
kesakko freckle from kesä “summer”
välikkö corridor / passage from väli “gap”
lävikkö colander from läpi “through” (water goes through)
frog unclear
ullakko attic unclear
lompakko wallet from Swedish plånbok
kolpakko tankard from Russian колпак
lepakko bat maybe from lepattaa “to flutter”
lätäkkö puddle maybe from lätsähtää “to splat, slosh”
laatikko box maybe from ancient Swedish ladikka/laadikka,
from Islandic hlatha or ancient German latta

5. Inflection and Consonant Gradation

Words ending in KKO of course inflect in all the cases.

Noun case Singular -kko Plural -kko Singular -kkö Plural -kkö
Nominative naulakko naulakot päällikkö päälliköt
Partitive naulakkoa naulakkoja päällikköä päällikköjä
Genitive naulakon naulakkojen päällikön päällikköjen
Inessive naulakossa naulakoissa päällikössä päälliköissä
Elative naulakosta naulakoista päälliköstä päälliköistä
Illative naulakkoon naulakkoihin päällikköön päällikköihin
Adessive naulakolla naulakoilla päälliköllä päälliköillä
Ablative naulakolta naulakoilta päälliköltä päälliköiltä
Allative naulakolle naulakoille päällikölle päälliköille
Essive naulakkona naulakkoina päällikkönä päällikköinä
Translative naulakoksi naulakoiksi päälliköksi päälliköiksi
Abessive naulakotta naulakoitta päälliköttä päälliköittä

The table above contains only one ending for the plural partitive (naulakkoja, päällikkö) and one ending for the plural genitive (naulakkojen, päällikköjen). However, these words can have a second marker as well: naulakoita and päälliköitä for the partitive plural and naulakoiden ja päälliköiden for the genitive plural. Depending on the word, one of these endings can be more common, but both are possible. Read more about these here.

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This is very informative. Any reason why a noun would get a -KKO/KKÖ ending vs. -STO/STÖ? They seem to have the same function.

Inge (admin)

That’s a really good question! A general tendency is that -kko is used for more concrete words and -sto for more abstract words, but that’s pretty hard to pin down exactly. It’s pretty hard for a learner of Finnish to use this general tendency as a guideline for predicting whether -sto or -kko will be used.

From an etymologic perspective, we can say that -sto used to be productive mainly in Western Finnish dialects, while -kko was more common in Eastern Finnish dialects.