The suborder class is most often differentiated by soil moisture regimes and diagnostic horizons.

Table – Suborder names in Soil Taxonomy - formative elements and meaning.

Formative element Derivation Meaning or Connotation
alb L. albus, white Presence of an albic horizon
aqu L. aqua, water Characteristics associated with wetness
ar L. arare, to plow Mixed horizon
arg L. argilla, white clay Presence of an argillic horizon
bor Gr. boreas, northern Cool climate
calc L. calcis, lime Presence of a calcic horizon
camb L. cambiare, to exchange Presence of a cambic horizon
cry Gr. kryos, cold Cold climate
dur L. duras, hard Presence of a duripan
fibr L. fibra, fiber Least decomposed stage
fluv L. fluvius, river Flood plains
fol L. folia, leaf Mass of leaves
gyps L. gypsum, gypsum Presence of a gypsic horizon
hem Gr. hemi, half Intermediate state of decomposition
hist Gr. histos, tissue Organic soil material
hum L. humus, earth Presence of organic matter
ochr Gr. base of ochros, pale Presence of an ochric epipedon
orth Gr. orthos, true The common ones
plagg Ger. Plaggen, sod Presence of plaggen epipedons
per L. perennis, all year Perudic soil moisture regime
psamm Gr. psammos, sand Sand textures
rend Polish Rendzina, limestone soil Rendzinalike
sal L. sal, salt Presence of a salic horizon
sapr Gr. sapros, rotten Most decomposed stage
stat Gr. statiskos, stationary No congellipedoturbation
torr Gr. torridus, hot, dry Torric soil moisture regime
trop Gr. tropikos, of the solstice Continually warm
turb L. turbidus, disturbed Active congellipedoturbation
ud L. udus, humid Udic soil moisture regime
umbr L. umbra, shade Presence of an umbric epipedon
ust L. ustus, burnt Ustic soil moisture regime
vitr L. vitrum, glass Presence of glass
xer Gr. xeros, dry Xeric soil moisture regime