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Probably originated from the suffix -ость (-ostʹ) added to words ending in -ный (-nyj), and was then extracted by rebracketing as a productive suffix. The same thing happened with e.g. -тельный (-telʹnyj) and English -ness.


-ность (-nostʹ)

  1. Suffix forming nouns denoting the quality of the action designated by the verbs from which the nouns are formed.
    погреши́ть (pogrešítʹ, to err)погре́шность (pogréšnostʹ, mistake, error, fault)
    принадлежа́ть (prinadležátʹ, to belong)принадле́жность (prinadléžnostʹ, belonging, accessory)
    провини́ться (provinítʹsja, to commit an offence)прови́нность (provínnostʹ, misconduct, offence)
  2. Suffix forming abstract nouns from adjectives. A less productive alternative to -ость (-ostʹ), except after щ, where it is the regular suffix.
    гото́вый (gotóvyj, ready)гото́вность (gotóvnostʹ, readiness) (no such word *гото́вный exists)
    о́бщий (óbščij, general, common)о́бщность (óbščnostʹ, generality, community) (no such word *о́бщный exists)
  3. Suffix forming nouns with the meaning of a group of things characterized by the quality designated by the adjectives from which the nouns are formed.
    живо́й (živój, living)жи́вность (žívnostʹ, small creatures collectively)
  4. Suffix forming nouns of various sorts from miscellaneous parts of speech.
    пове́рх (povérx, over)пове́рхность (povérxnostʹ, surface)

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