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  1. British. a tax, assessment, or lien.
  2. (in Scotland) a land tax.
  3. (in Ireland) a military assessment.
  4. (in India) an import or sales tax on a commodity.
verb (used with object)
  1. British. to tax; assess.

Origin of cess1

1400–50; late Middle English; aphetic variant of obsolete assess assessment, noun use of assess (v.)


noun Irish English Informal.
  1. luck (usually used in the expression bad cess to): Bad cess to them!

Origin of cess2

First recorded in 1855–60; perhaps aphetic variant of success
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cess

Historical Examples

  • They say he has the taxes, too, in his power, and can cess you just as he likes.

    The Martins Of Cro' Martin, Vol. II (of II)

    Charles James Lever

  • And there was the story about choosing the collector of the cess--'

  • That trunk went to Astoria instead of the Astor House, bad 'cess to it, and that's about as far apart as it could git.

    Felix O'Day

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Pour moi votre royaut a cess dtre politique et maintenant est historique; ma rpublique ne sen inquite pas.

  • The payment of cess for maintaining soldiers was the most grievous of burdens.

British Dictionary definitions for cess


  1. British any of several special taxes, such as a land tax in Scotland
  2. (formerly, in Ireland)
    1. the obligation to provide the soldiers and household of the lord deputy with supplies at fixed prices
    2. any military exaction
  1. (tr) British to tax or assess for taxation
  2. (formerly in Ireland) to impose (soldiers) upon a population, to be supported by them

Word Origin

C16: short for assessment


  1. an Irish slang word for luck bad cess to you!

Word Origin

C19: probably from cess 1 (sense 2)


  1. short for cesspool
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cess


"tax, levy," 1530s, short for assess (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper