word-forming element in Modern Latin making names for orders and classes in zoology (Crustacea, Cetacea, etc.), from Latin -acea, neuter plural of -aceus "belonging to, of the nature of" (enlarged from adjectival suffix -ax, genitive -acis).
The names are thus formally adjectives, Latin animalia "animals" (a neuter plural noun) being understood. Thus Crustacea "shellfish" are *crustacea animalia "crusty animals."
In botany, the suffix is -aceae, from the fem. plural of -aceus, forming orders or families of plants (Rosaceae, etc.) with a presumed plantae "plants," which is a fem. plural.