-ess

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See also: ess, Ess, ESS, ess-, and ëss

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English -esse, borrowed from Old French -esse, from Late Latin -issa, from Ancient Greek -ισσα (-issa). Displaced Old English -en (feminine suffix of nouns).

Pronunciation[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-ess (plural -esses)

  1. Suffix appended to words to make a female form.
    Examples:
    actress
    duchess
    goddess
    lioness
    princess
    shepherdess
    snakess
    stewardess
    waitress

Usage notes[edit]

However, there are also terms with -ter-ess.
painterpaintress, painteress
Additionally, sometimes terms ending in -der/-dor can change to -dr when this suffix is added. Other changes are: -ger to -gr, -per to -pr, -pher to -phr.
attenderattendress; bartenderbartendress, bartenderess; founderfoundress, founderess
vendorvendress
tigertigress
usurperusurpress
philosopherphilosophress, philosopheress
  • Professions ending in -e lose an e when this suffix is added.
    A female prince is a princess.
  • As in Romance languages, the masculine form is always used when referring to both males and females. However, note the unusual word marquess which denotes males.
    Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were very popular actors.
    Who would like to be an actor after high school?
  • This suffix is sometimes regarded as sexist and as such is starting to fall into disuse; a single, gender-neutral term is preferred by some even though it is a less specific term.
    Glenda Jackson is a famous actor.
    Glenda Jackson is a famous actress. More specific language signaling that Glenda is a female.
  • Depending on etymology, other feminine affixes are used; see synonyms.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-ess

  1. Alternative form of -esse