Grammar 11 min read

What -Esque Means at the end of a Word & how to use it Effectively

Main Esque Takeaways:

  • Esque is an adjective suffix that’s used to show likeness. It means resembling, similar to, reminiscent of, in the style of, or having a quality of.
  • In the same way that you can attach like to words, you can use esque to create descriptive words to express yourself best (tissue-like fabric; tissue-esque fabric).
  • When added to a noun, this suffix creates an adjective that describes a place, person, or object that has a similarity to the noun.
  • Add this versatile suffix to just about any noun, including proper nouns (Someone who reminds you of Victor could be Victor-esque).
  • You don’t usually need hyphens when adding esque to a noun, but you can make the stylistic choice to use them.
  • Words with this ending such as arabesque and burlesque can also be nouns.
  • Esque should not be confused with the similar Spanish phrase es que.
  • ⚠️ Watch Out! It’s best to use words ending in esque sparingly. Challenge yourself to explore synonyms and incorporate them into your growing vocabulary.
The family picnicked by old mill because it had such a picturesque view of the stream. It was so perfect; it might have been a painting hanging on the wall.
Her husband was such a terrible cook that she jokingly started calling all bad food Melvin-esque in his honor.
Maeve practiced for months before she could execute the arabesque.

Esque is a suffix we use to show likeness. It transforms a noun into an adjective that we can then use to describe a person, place, or object that’s similar to the noun. This comprehensive guide covers the meaning of esque and how to use this suffix to create strong comparisons and an elegant tone.

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A boy waving his hand. His labeled as suffix. On top of him is the word -esque
Esque is an adjective suffix, which means resembling, similar to, reminiscent of, in the style of, or having a quality of.

What Does Esque Mean at the end of a Word?

When you add esque to the end of a word, it creates an adjective, or a descriptive word. In turn, this tells you that something is like the word esque is attached to. For example, a picturesque view is a view that looks like a picture. Therefore, this adjective suffix means resembling, in the style of, like, reminiscent of, similar to, or having a quality of.

📝 Esque Means:

  • Like
  • Resembling
  • In the style of
  • Reminiscent of
  • Similar to
  • Having a quality of

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard a woman referred to as a statuesque beauty or a view described as picturesque. To better answer the question of what it means if something is esque, try substituting like for esque. Statuesque now becomes statue-like and picturesque becomes picture-like.

How do you Spell Esque?

Spell esque as E-S-Q-U-E. It means like or in the style of. Attach this suffix to the end of practically any noun to describe things with custom adjectives.

Much to his girlfriend’s dismay, Maxwell bought every Tolkien-esque item he could find to add to his ever-growing collection of fantasy memorabilia.

How do you Pronounce Esque?

Correctly pronounce the suffix esque first by saying the letter ‘S‘ immediately followed a hard ‘K‘ sound (like at the end of the word ask). In fact, imagine you are saying “ask” but replace the ‘a‘ with an ‘e.’ The hard ‘K‘ sound should abruptly stop the smooth flow of the ‘S‘ sound.

How do you use Esque?

Since esque means “like” or “resembling,” use the suffix sparingly to create descriptive words that show one thing resembles another. First, pick a noun or a proper noun. Second, add esque to the end of the word in the same way you would use like (animal like; animalesque). You can add a hyphen, but you don’t have to. However, if the noun ends in a vowel, help maintain clarity by adding a hyphen before esque (Angora like; Angora-esque). When used correctly, this suffix helps create strong comparisons and a refined tone.

What’s more, it can also help better demonstrate your writing personal style and creativity.

How Do You Use Esque?

  1. Use it to create custom adjectives that show that one thing resembles another.
  2. Add it to the end of virtually any noun or proper noun to create an adjective able to describe a place, an object, or a person.
  3. It should take the form of the noun + esque (without any spacing between the two).
  4. You don’t need to use a hyphen, but you can for personal style.
  5. Use it rarely. Overusing it may seem unimaginative or repetitive. Worse, this may even make your work hard to read.
  6. Be careful of being redundant. If a word already is an adjective that means “resembling,” adding esque is overkill. Similarly, if a word already contains esque, don’t add like (grotesque-like)

When no preexisting adjective will do, this versatile suffix may be exactly what you need to create a brand-new word. It’s considered the do-it-yourself suffix because you can pair it with pretty much any noun, including a proper noun.

The newly formed word is an adjective that describes a place, an object, or a person that embodies or demonstrates a quality of the noun.

A woman looking at flowers. She's saying
Grotesque is an adjective used to describe objects that are hideous or unsightly.

Examples Using Esque to Create DIY Adjectives

Genevieve loved the glamour of the silver screen and couldn’t resist anything that she deemed Hollywoodesque.
The dog would only eat human food and would turn his nose up at anything even remotely kibble-esque.
Don’t tell me I don’t know anything about romance. I’ve seen every Hallmark-Channel-esque movie ever made.

To Hyphenate or not to Hyphenate

Established words with this ending such as picturesque or statuesque don’t require a hyphen. In fact, you can add esque to just about any noun without including a hyphen and it would be grammatically correct.

However, a hyphen also isn’t incorrect and including one is typically considered a matter of style.

A hyphen may also be added to indicate to a reader that a particular DIY esque word won’t be found in a dictionary. Although the hyphen makes it no more or less legitimate, it can be helpful in this regard.

She thought the movie was Spielbergesque and loved all the amazing special effects.
She thought the movie was Spielberg-esque and loved all the amazing special effects.

How not to use Esque

Never use this suffix with redundant suffixes such as like.

The creature’s skin had a slimy appearance that was really quite grotesque-like.
The creature’s skin had a slimy appearance that was really quite grotesque.

It’s also important to use esque adjectives sparingly, as overuse can sound awkward and stilted.

The statuesque model posed on a bench overlooking a picturesque field of wildflowers.
The statuesque model posed on a bench overlooking a beautiful field of wildflowers.

Is Esque Formal?

Adding the suffix esque to a word can make it sound more formal. For example, the word “romanesque” has a taste of formality that’s clearly absent in both “roman-ish” and “roman-like.” 

However, using esque is also acceptable in informal settings. That’s because you can combine the word with an adjective or noun to coin a new term. For example: 

We arrived late because of Jack’s snail-esque driving.
Jim has a hint of a Sinatra-esque swagger.

While it’s optional, it’s always a good idea to include hyphens in coined terms. That way, readers will know that the word probably doesn’t exist in any dictionary.

Common -Esque Words

Although words featuring this suffix aren’t always used in everyday conversation or writing, there are several common variations that most will find familiar.

Here is a list of common (and less common) words ending in esque:

  • Statuesque
  • Grotesque
  • Burlesque
  • Arabesque
  • Gigantesque
  • Romanesque
  • Picturesque
  • Carnivalesque
  • Dantesque
Probably because she was tall and willowy, the actress was often described as statuesque.
Some people said the gargoyles were grotesque, but he thought they were beautiful.
The arched doorways gave his home a Romanesque vibe.
PRO Tip: When in doubt, substitute like for esque.
He angled his desk to take advantage of the picturesque view of the winding stream outside the office window.
He referred to exceptional horror novels as King-esque, since they reminded him of his favorite author, Stephen King.
-esque is an English suffix that means like or resembling. Images shows a statue and a young woman admiring it, saying
Esque is a suffix that transforms a noun into an adjective.

Can a Word Ending in Esque be a Noun?

Yes! Several words that end in esque are actually nouns.

  • Arabesque: Arabesque is a ballet term that refers to a position in which the body is supported on one leg. The other leg is extended backward.
  • Burlesque: Burlesque is a style of drama or literature marked by caricature or irony.
The little girl was amazed at how much flexibility ballerinas required to hold an arabesque.
The teenage couple were turned away from the burlesque because it was adults-only.

Can a Word Ending in Esque be a Verb?

In cases such as burlesque, the suffix esque may also help form a verb. For instance, as a verb, burlesque means to imitate in a humorous or mocking way. However, words with this ending are usually adjectives since this suffix typically transforms a noun into a descriptive word, or adjective.

The show aimed to burlesque the president’s coarse mannerisms.

What Does Esque Mean in French?

The Esque suffix comes to English by way of French. The word’s etymology has roots in the Medieval Latin -iscus, which later found its way into Italian as -esco. That eventually became -esque in French, meaning like or in the manner of. It subsequently took on a similar meaning in English and is still used in written and spoken language. In French, as in English, you say something is –esque, meaning it’s similar to the noun it’s attached to.

What Does Es Que Mean?

Some mistakenly may confuse the suffix esque with a two-word Spanish phrase that uses the same letters, es que. Es que has several translations, which vary by context, its place in a sentence, and whether it’s used as an idiom. Es que may translate to:

  • is that
  • it’s that
  • it happens that
  • the thing is
Spanish: Tengo que tomar una prueba, pero es que no me apetece.

English Translation: I have to take a quiz, but the thing is, I just don’t feel like it.

What Does Picturesque Mean in English?

If you ask someone to name a word ending in esque, picturesque is likely the first one that comes to mind. Often used to describe scenery, the word picturesque indicates visual attractiveness in a way that’s charming, quaint, or suitable for artwork. It may be used to describe prose that’s striking and creates a vivid mental image. This word may also refer to a person or object that’s pleasing or interesting to the eye.

Enchanted by its rows of flowering dogwood trees, visitors described the little country road as picturesque time and time again.
He knew she was an experienced writer because she used picturesque language to effectively set the scene throughout the novel.
She stood by herself on the sidewalk, looking picturesque in a brightly colored scarf and matching hat.

Synonyms for Picturesque

Because esque words should be used sparingly in written English, knowing synonyms for picturesque can be helpful. Similar and substitutable words include:

  • Scenic
  • Beautiful
  • Quaint
  • Charming
  • Pleasant
  • Arresting
  • Colorful
  • Artistic
  • Vivid
  • Pretty
  • Striking
They drove through the countryside community, which was a picturesque blend of winding roads, gentle streams, and colorful flowers.
They drove through the countryside community, which was a charming blend of winding roads, gentle streams, and colorful flowers.

An online thesaurus is a great resource for finding other appropriate synonyms for picturesque (or other esque words).

A young man looking out the window, mesmerized by the view. He's saying
In French, as in English, you say something is –esque, meaning it’s similar to the noun it’s attached to.

What Does Esq. Mean in law?

The abbreviation esq. is short for esquire, the honorary title for practicing attorneys in the U.S. In English law, Esq. is also used as a title but it means something else; Instead, it signifies a rank that’s higher than a gentleman but directly below a knight. There’s no direct relationship between esque and Esq. The only similarities between these two are the close spellings and the fact that they both tend to come at the end of a proper noun.

Her business card read “Holly Thomas, Esq. of Greater Seattle”.

Like many other suffixes, this versatile tool can be used to add variety and style to your writing and speech. If you use a light hand and a savvy eye, these five letters can help you define strong comparisons and create adjectives where none existed before.

Do you Know how to use -Esque Properly now? Let’s Test Your Knowledge

Esque Question #1

Which of these best describes
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. The suffix "-esque" means resembling, reminiscent of, similar to, or having a quality of.

Esque Meaning Question #2

Esque is an adjective suffix.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. You can pair it with any noun in this form: noun + esque.

Esque Question #3

Select the incorrect usage of
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. "-esque" should never be used in conjunction with a redundant suffix such as "like".

Esque Definition Question #4

ke
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. The suffix "-esque" means “similar to”.

Esque Question #5

Which of the following statements about
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. "Picturesque" can also refer to a person or object that's pleasing or interesting to the eye.

Esque Question #6

Which word is NOT a synonym for
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. "Dull" is the opposite of "picturesque".

Esque Quiz Result
Expert!

Expert!

Not bad!

Not bad!

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

Almost got it! Review the article and try again.

Read More: What Et Al. Means And How To Use It Like A Pro

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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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