adjectival word-forming element, variant of -al (1) with connective -i-. From Latin -ialis, in which the -i- originally was from the stem of the word being attached but later came to be felt as connective.
a "connective" element in many words formed with Latin or Greek suffixes, now often felt as part of them (as in -iac, -iacal, -ial, -ian, -ify, -ity, etc.). Properly it forms no proper part of the suffix but is often the stem-vowel of the initial word in the Latin compounds (genial from genius), or a modified form of it. As such forms were very common, -i- was used merely connectively or euphonically in some Latin compounds (uniformis) and in later words made from Latin components in English or French (centennial, editorial).
The Greek equivalent is -o-, which also became an active connective in English, but they now are used indifferently with elements from either language.