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.
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Origin of -ness
Middle English, Old English -nes, -nis, cognate with German -nis, Gothic -(n)assus; suffix orig. *-assus; -n- by false division of words with adj. and past participle stems ending in -n-; compare Old English efnes (later efen-nys) evenness
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British Dictionary definitions for -ness
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