word-forming element used in forming nouns from Latin words ending in -atus, -atum (such as estate, primate, senate). Those that came to English via French often arrived with -at, but an -e was added after c. 1400 to indicate the long vowel. The suffix also can mark adjectives formed from Latin past participles in -atus, -ata (such as desolate, moderate, separate); again, they often were adopted in Middle English as -at, with an -e appended after c. 1400.
in chemistry, word-forming element used to form the names of salts from acids in -ic; from Latin -atus, -atum, suffix used in forming adjectives and thence nouns; identical with -ate (1).
The substance formed, for example, by the action of acetic acid (vinegar) on lead was described in the 18th century as plumbum acetatum, i.e. acetated lead. Acetatum was then taken as a noun meaning "the acetated (product)," i.e. acetate. [W.E. Flood, "The Origins of Chemical Names," London, 1963]