From Middle English -nes, -nesse, from Old English -nis, -nes, from Proto-West Germanic *-nassī, from Proto-Germanic *-inassuz.
This suffix was formed already in Proto-Germanic by false division of the final consonant *-n- of the preceding stem + the actual suffix *-assuz. The latter was in turn derived from an earlier *-at(s)-tuz, from the verbal suffix *-at-janą + the noun suffix *-þuz.
- (UK) IPA(key): /nəs/
- (New Zealand) IPA(key): /nəs/, [nɘs]
- (US) IPA(key): /nəs/, /nɪs/, /nɛs/
- Appended to adjectives to form nouns meaning "the state of being (the adjective)", "the quality of being (the adjective)", or "the measure of being (the adjective)".
- Appended to words of other parts of speech to form nouns (often nonce words or terms in philosophy) meaning the state/quality/measure of the idea represented by these words.
- If an adjective ends in -y, then this changes to -i- when -ness is suffixed. This occurs both when the -y is the suffix -y (“having the quality of”), as in mess → messy → messiness (hence -y → -i-), but also in other cases, as in comely → comeliness. It does not, however, occur when the -y is part of the root, as in spry → spryness.
- Plurals are formed by adding -es, e.g. happiness → happinesses.
appended to adjectives to form nouns meaning "the state of being...", "the quality of being...", or "the measure of being..."
- Alternative form of -nesse
- Alternative form of -nes
Declension of -ness (strong ō-stem)
- Joseph Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller (1898), “-ness”, in An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
From Middle English -nes, -nesse, from Old English -nis, -nes, from Proto-West Germanic *-nassī.
- Affixed to adjectives to form abstract nouns which denote a quality, state or condition.