-ness Also -iness.
A state or condition.
[Old English -nes(s), of Germanic origin.]
This suffix forms nouns, mainly from adjectives. Several thousand examples exist, of which a very few are alertness, baldness, greenness, idleness, lightness, neatness, quietness, richness, swarthiness, tameness, and weakness. Some are formed from compound adjectives: cold-bloodedness, feeble-mindedness, wrong-headedness. A few come from pronouns (I-ness, the reference of all things to one's own consciousness) or adverbs (nowness, the quality of taking place in the present time). The ending is frequently added to words already containing other suffixes, as with blamelessness, curvaceousness, or thankfulness.
The suffix is active in the language, though words coined with it are often of transitory existence: alongsidedness, bedworthiness, chickenheartedness, gung-ho-ishness, megastarriness, shortsleevedness.
Words such as governess contain -ess attached to a stem ending in n.