-ful

-ful

suff.
1.
a. Full of: playful.
b. Characterized by; resembling: masterful.
c. Tending, given, or able to: useful.
2. A quantity that fills: armful.

[Middle English, from Old English, from full, full; see full1.]

-ful

suffix
1. (forming adjectives) full of or characterized by: painful; spiteful; restful.
2. (forming adjectives) able or tending to: helpful; useful.
3. (forming nouns) indicating as much as will fill the thing specified: mouthful; spoonful.
[Old English -ful, -full, from full1]
Usage: Where the amount held by a spoon, etc, is used as a rough unit of measurement, the correct form is spoonful, etc: take a spoonful of this medicine every day. Spoon full is used in a sentence such as he held out a spoon full of dark liquid, where full of describes the spoon. A plural form such as spoonfuls is preferred by many speakers and writers to spoonsful

-ful

a suffix meaning “full of,” “characterized by” (beautiful; careful); “tending to,” “able to” (harmful; wakeful); “as much as will fill” (spoonful).
[Middle English, Old English -full, -ful, representing full, ful full1]
usage: The plurals of nouns ending in -ful are usu. formed by adding -s to the suffix: two cupfuls. Perhaps influenced by the phrase in which a noun is followed by the adjective full (both arms full of packages), some speakers and writers pluralize such nouns by adding -s before the suffix: two cupsful.
References in periodicals archive ?
From the above it follows that the product of more advanced grammaticalization, the suffix -ful, now enjoys high frequency of use, while the intensifier full, which came into early use in the process of divergence, has failed to survive in Present-day English.
forms with the clitic -ful are found in texts earlier than the intensifier ful), which means that grammaticalization is not obligatorily a continuous, linear process.