word-forming element in names of countries, diseases, and flowers, from Latin and Greek -ia, noun ending, in Greek especially used in forming abstract nouns (typically of feminine gender); see -a (1). The classical suffix in its usual evolution (via French -ie) comes to Modern English as -y (as in familia/family, also -logy, -graphy). Compare -cy.
In paraphernalia, Mammalia, regalia, etc. it represents Latin or Greek -a (see -a (2)), plural suffix of nouns in -ium (Latin) or -ion (Greek), with formative or euphonic -i-.
updated on June 27, 2017