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Etymology 1Edit

Etymology uncertain. Occurs in print at least as early as 1831, when Samuel Lover used the expression as one already long-established. He unambiguously stated the derivation of cess in the malediction bad cess to be an abbreviation of success.[1]. OED speculated that it either was from success or from assessment meaning a military or governmental exaction.[2]


cess (plural cesses)

  1. (Britain, Ireland) An assessed tax, duty, or levy.
  2. (Britain, Ireland, informal) Luck or success, typically in an unfavourable context, as in "bad cess to...". More rarely in a favourable sense such as "good cess to..."
    • 1962, News for Farmer Cooperatives[4], Information Office, Farm Credit Administration:
      Midland has had good cess with using minute commercials eight television stations, cited as one example of modernizing its advertising.
    • 1965, Canada Month[5]:
      It is good cess to feel the warmth and sincerity of this couple who fill the role of the Queen's representative in Canada.
    • 2004, Kevin O'Malley, Inside[6], →ISBN:
      Bad cess to it, b'ys! Where's the blessed ting, at all, at all? Bad cess to it!
  3. (obsolete) Bound; measure.
    • Shakespeare
      The poor jade is wrung in the withers out of all cess.


cess (third-person singular simple present cesses, present participle cessing, simple past and past participle cessed)

  1. (Britain, Ireland) To levy a cess.
Derived termsEdit
See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Possibly from an archaic dialect word meaning “bog”.


the cess is the low area either side of the track

cess (plural cesses)

  1. (rail transport) The area along either side of a railroad track which is kept at a lower level than the sleeper bottom, in order to provide drainage.
  2. (obsolete, dialectal) A bog, in particular a peat bog.
  3. (obsolete, dialectal) A piece of peat, or a turf, particularly when dried for use as fuel.
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 3Edit

From French cesser. See cease.


cess (third-person singular simple present cesses, present participle cessing, simple past and past participle cessed)

  1. (obsolete, law) To cease; to neglect.
    • 1827, John Perkins, A Profitable Book, Treating of the Laws of England[8]:
      And therefore, if there be lord, mesne, and tenant, and the tenant doth cess, and the mesne takes a wife and dies, his wife shall not have dower of the tenancy...




cess n

  1. C-flat


Declension of cess 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative cess cesset cess cessen
Genitive cess cessets cess cessens

Related termsEdit


  1. ^ Lover, Samuel: Legends and Stories of Ireland. 1831 Publishers Wakeman, Dublin; Baldwin and Cradock, London; Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.
  2. ^ Murray, J.A.H. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (2 vols). Publisher: Oxford University Press. 1971. ISBN: 978-0198611172