(used in expressions of surprise, alarm, etc.): Goodness, you gave me a start! Goodness gracious!

Nearby words

  1. goodies,
  2. goodish,
  3. goodly,
  4. goodman,
  5. goodman, benny,
  6. goodness gracious,
  7. goodness knows,
  8. goodness of fit,
  9. goodpasture,
  10. goodpasture's syndrome

Origin of goodness

before 900; Middle English; Old English gōdnes. See good, -ness

2. integrity, honesty, uprightness, probity. Goodness, morality, virtue refer to qualities of character or conduct that entitle the possessor to approval and esteem. Goodness is the simple word for the general quality recognized in character or conduct: Many could tell of her goodness and kindness. Morality implies conformity to the recognized standards of right conduct: a citizen of the highest morality. Virtue is a rather formal word, and suggests usually goodness that is consciously or steadily maintained, often in spite of temptations or evil influences: of unassailable virtue; firm and of unwavering virtue. 3. benevolence, benignity, humanity. 4. worth, value.

Related formssu·per·good·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for goodness

British Dictionary definitions for goodness



the state or quality of being good
generosity; kindness
moral excellence; piety; virtue


a euphemism for God goodness knows!; thank goodness!
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 goodness



Old English godnes "goodness, virtue, kindliness;" see good (adj.) + -ness. In exclamations from 1610s, first recorded being for goodnesse sake, i.e. "as you trust in the goodness of God."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with goodness


In addition to the idioms beginning with goodness

  • goodness gracious
  • goodness knows

also see:

  • for the sake of

, def. 3; god (goodness) knowshonest to god (goodness)my god (goodness.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.