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ling

1
[ ling ]
/ lɪŋ /
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noun, plural (especially collectively) ling, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) lings.
an elongated, marine, gadid food fish, Molva molva, of Greenland and northern Europe.
the burbot.
any of various other elongated food fishes.
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Origin of ling

1
1250–1300; Middle English ling, lenge; cognate with Dutch leng; akin to long1, Old Norse langa

Other definitions for ling (2 of 5)

ling2
[ ling ]
/ lɪŋ /

noun
the heather, Calluna vulgaris.

Origin of ling

2
1325–75; Middle English lyng<Old Norse lyng

Other definitions for ling (3 of 5)

-ling1

a suffix of nouns, often pejorative, denoting one concerned with (hireling; underling), or diminutive (princeling; duckling).

Origin of -ling

1
Middle English, Old English; cognate with German -ling,Old Norse -lingr,Gothic -lings;see -le, -ing1

Other definitions for ling (4 of 5)

-ling2

an adverbial suffix expressing direction, position, state, etc.: darkling; sideling.

Origin of -ling

2
Middle English, Old English; adv. use of gradational variant langlong1

Other definitions for ling (5 of 5)

ling.

abbreviation
linguistics.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

WORDS THAT USE -LING

What does -ling mean?

The suffixling has two distinct senses.

The first of these senses is to form nouns meaning “one concerned with” and/or “little.” This form of –ling is occasionally used in a variety of everyday terms. It is sometimes used to be pejorative or insulting. The suffix –ling comes from Old English, in which it was used to create nouns meaning “one concerned with.”

The second of these senses is to form adverbs describing direction, position, or state of being. This form of –ling is very rarely used in a variety of obscure terms. The suffix –ling in this sense comes from Old English –ling, in which it was used to indicate direction.

Examples of -ling with the sense “one concerned with” or "little"

One example of a word that features –ling in the sense of “little” is princeling, “a young prince.”

The prince part of the word means, naturally, “prince,” a non-reigning male member of a royal family. As we have seen, –ling means “little.” Princeling literally means “little prince.”

What are some words that use the equivalent of the suffix –ling in Middle or Old English?

What are some other forms that –ling may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that ends with the exact letters –ling, such as buckling or quisling, is necessarily using the suffix –ling to denote “one concerned with” or “little.” Learn why quisling means “traitor” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The offspring of a goose is known as a gosling. Given the meaning of –ling, what does gosling literally mean?

Examples of -ling with the sense “direction” or "state of being"

A word that uses the suffix –ling to indicate a state of being is darkling, an adverb meaning “in the dark.” Darkling comes from late Middle English derkeling, which features the equivalent of –ling in that language.

The dark part of the word here literally means “having very little or no light.” The suffix –ling in this term indicates a state of being. Darkling literally means “the state of having very little or no light.”

What are some words that use the suffix –ling?

What are some other forms that -ling may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Given the meaning of –ling to indicate a sense of direction, what does sideling mean?

How to use ling in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ling (1 of 5)

ling1
/ (lɪŋ) /

noun plural ling or lings
any of several gadoid food fishes of the northern coastal genus Molva, esp M. molva, having an elongated body with long fins
another name for burbot

Word Origin for ling

C13: probably from Low German; related to long 1

British Dictionary definitions for ling (2 of 5)

ling2
/ (lɪŋ) /

noun
another name for heather (def. 1)

Derived forms of ling

lingy, adjective

Word Origin for ling

C14: from Old Norse lyng

British Dictionary definitions for ling (3 of 5)

-ling1

suffix forming nouns
often derogatory a person or thing belonging to or associated with the group, activity, or quality specifiednestling; underling
used as a diminutiveduckling

Word Origin for -ling

Old English -ling, of Germanic origin; related to Icelandic -lingr, Gothic -lings

British Dictionary definitions for ling (4 of 5)

-ling2

suffix forming adverbs
in a specified condition, manner, or directiondarkling; sideling

Word Origin for -ling

Old English -ling, adverbial suffix

British Dictionary definitions for ling (5 of 5)

ling.

abbreviation for
linguistics
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
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