See also: ess, Ess, ESS, ess-, and ëss

EnglishEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English -esse, borrowed from Old French -esse, from Late Latin -issa, from Ancient Greek -ισσα (-issa). Displaced Old English -en (feminine suffix of nouns).

PronunciationEdit

SuffixEdit

-ess (plural -esses)

  1. Suffix appended to words to make a female form.
    Examples:
    actress
    duchess
    goddess
    lioness
    princess
    shepherdess
    snakess
    stewardess
    waitress
Usage notesEdit
However, there are also terms with -ter-ess.
painterpaintress, painteress
Additionally, sometimes terms ending in -der/-dor can change to -dr when this suffix is added. Other changes are: -ger to -gr, -per to -pr, -pher to -phr.
attenderattendress; bartenderbartendress, bartenderess; founderfoundress, founderess
vendorvendress
tigertigress
usurperusurpress
philosopherphilosophress, philosopheress
  • Professions ending in -e lose an e when this suffix is added.
    A female prince is a princess.
  • As in Romance languages, the masculine form may be used when referring to both males and females; however, in other cases using the masculine and feminine forms together may be preferred.
    Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were very popular actors.
    The zoo has a breeding pair of tigers.
    Twelve gods (or: Twelve gods and goddesses) form the Greek pantheon.
    but: A procession of dukes and duchesses filed into the coronation.
  • The unusual word marquess denotes males (the -ess ending is not this suffix; the feminine is marchioness).
  • This suffix is sometimes regarded as sexist and as such is starting to fall into disuse, particularly when referring to professions. A single, gender-neutral term is preferred by some even though it is a less specific term. Many terms such as authoress or sculptress are considered dated and rarely used outside of historical references, and other forms such as doctress or philosophress are virtually obsolete. Usage is divided on words such as actress or waitress, which remain common but are deprecated by some, including some women who hold those positions. Use with titles of nobility is still universal (prince is never used to refer to a woman outside of special circumstances, only princess).
    Glenda Jackson is a famous actor.
    Glenda Jackson is a famous actress. More specific language signaling that Glenda is a female.
  • Depending on etymology, other feminine affixes are used; see synonyms.
SynonymsEdit
TranslationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Old French -esse, from Latin -itia.

SuffixEdit

-ess

  1. Used to form nouns from adjectives.

Derived termsEdit

AnagramsEdit


Middle EnglishEdit

SuffixEdit

-ess

  1. Alternative form of -esse