In this section, we explain the syllables vir-, -in-, -id- and -aĉ- which function mostly (but not exclusively) as terms for animals. We can create the term for male, female, descendants etc., with the help of the corresponding syllable.

Estas tri ŝafoj: virŝafo, ŝafino kaj ŝafido.


Nouns in their basic form are all neutral in Esperanto – meaning we can’t tell if we are dealing with a male or female being. If we want to differentiate between the sexes, we use the syllable vir- or -in-.

Vir- denotes a masculine noun, and -in- a feminine noun.

ŝafo = sheep
virŝafo = ram
ŝafino = ewe

We can use the syllable -in- for people as well as animals. But we don’t use vir- for men, instead we take the general term.

ŝafisto = shepherd (gender neutral or male)
ŝafistino = shepherdess (female)


The words for man (viro) and woman (virino) are derived from the syllables.


Use -id- to identify descendants.

ŝafido = lamb

We can add the gender of the descendants with the syllables vir-/-in-.

virŝafido = male lamb
ŝafidino/ŝafinido = female lamb


We use -aĉ- to devaluate something; usually something that looks shabby/miserable.

ŝafo = ugly sheep

Some animals have a similar term in English.

kato = feral cat
hundo = mongrel

We can use -aĉ- also for people and things.

domo = derelict house (domo = house)
urbo = ugly, unpleasant city (urbo = city)


For those who get hungry when thinking about animals, -aĵ- is an important syllable. With it, we form the name of the meat from different animals.

ŝafo = Schafsfleisch
virŝafo = Hammelfleisch
ŝafido = Lammfleisch