Origin of ess
Other definitions for ess (2 of 2)
Origin of -ess
usage note for -ess
Nouns in -ess denoting occupation or profession are rapidly disappearing from American English. Airlines now refer to cabin personnel as flight attendants, not stewards and stewardesses. In the arts, authoress, editress, poetess, sculptress, and similar terms are either rejected or discouraged and almost always replaced by author, editor, poet, sculptor. Nouns in -ess designating the holder of public office are hardly ever encountered in modern American usage. Women holding the office of ambassador, mayor, or governor are referred to by those titles rather than by the older, gender-marked ambassadress, mayoress, or governess. ( Governess has developed a special sense in relation to childcare; this use is less common in the U.S. than in Britain.) Among other terms almost never used in modern American English are ancestress, directress, instructress, manageress, oratress, postmistress, and proprietress. If the gender of the performer is not relevant to performance of the task or function, the neutral term in -er or -or is now widely used.
Some nouns in -ess are still current: actress (but some women in the acting profession prefer to be called actors ); adventuress; enchantress; heiress (largely in journalistic writing); hostess (but women who conduct radio and television programs are referred to as hosts ); millionairess; murderess ; seamstress; seductress; sorceress; temptress; and waitress (the substitute term server has not been widely adopted).
Jewess and Negress are usually considered offensive today. Mistress has given way to master in the sense of one who has acquired expertise in something: She is a master at interpreting financial reports. See also -enne, -ette, -trix.
How to use ess in a sentence
In fact, to people who lisp and pronounce their esses as though they were teeaitches, it's quite the same.In Camp With A Tin Soldier|John Kendrick Bangs
Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses and certainly Vergil's verse was never used to a nobler purpose.
Pari dyspari, si impar esses tibi, ego nunc non essem miser.The Roman Poets of the Republic|W. Y. Sellar
If any other officers of the royal household still wear the collar of Esses, I shall be glad to be informed.
The captain's travels were printed with long esses, and the boy could make nothing of them, for other reasons.A Boy's Town|W. D. Howells