[ nes ]
/ nɛs /
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a headland; promontory; cape.
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Origin of ness

First recorded before 900; Middle English -nes(s) (in placenames), in part continuing Old English næs, in part from Old Norse nes; akin to nose

Other definitions for ness (2 of 2)


a native English suffix attached to adjectives and participles, forming abstract nouns denoting quality and state (and often, by extension, something exemplifying a quality or state): darkness; goodness; kindness; obligingness; preparedness.

Origin of -ness

Middle English, Old English -nes, -nis, cognate with German -nis, Gothic -(n)assus; suffix originally (unattested) -assus; -n- by false division of words with adjective and past participle stems ending in -n-; compare Old English efnes (later efen-nys ) evenness
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -ness mean?

The suffixness is used to denote a quality or state of being. It is often used in a variety of everyday terms.

The form –ness comes from Old English –nes. Similar suffixes in Latin include –itās and –tūdō, both of which indicate a state of being and are the sources of the English suffixes ity and tude. Check out our entries for both suffixes to learn how frequently they appear.

Examples of -ness

An example of a word you may have encountered that features –ness is bitterness, “a harsh, acrid taste.”

The bitter part of the word means “bitter” in the sense of “having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste.” As we have seen, –ness means “quality” or “state of being.” Bitterness literally means “the state of being bitter.”

What are some words that use the combining form –ness?

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

Break it down!

Given the meaning of –ness, what does pleasantness mean?

How to use ness in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ness (1 of 3)

/ (nɛs) /

  1. archaic a promontory or headland
  2. (capital as part of a name)Orford Ness

Word Origin for ness

Old English næs headland; related to Old Norse nes, Old English nasu nose

British Dictionary definitions for ness (2 of 3)

/ (nɛs) /

Loch Ness a lake in NW Scotland, in the Great Glen: said to be inhabited by an aquatic monster. Length: 36 km (22.5 miles). Depth: 229 m (754 ft)

British Dictionary definitions for ness (3 of 3)


suffix forming nouns
indicating state, condition, or quality, or an instance of one of thesegreatness; selfishness; meaninglessness; a kindness

Word Origin for -ness

Old English -nes, of Germanic origin; related to Gothic -nassus
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