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See also: Cess and ċess


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  • IPA(key): /sɛs/
  • Rhymes: -ɛs
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

Etymology uncertain. Occurs in print at least as early as 1831, when Samuel Lover used the expression as one already long-established. He unambiguously stated the derivation of cess in the malediction bad cess to be an abbreviation of success.[1]. OED speculated that it either was from success or from assessment meaning a military or governmental exaction.[2]


cess (plural cesses)

  1. (Britain, Ireland) An assessed tax, duty, or levy.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, A View of the Present State of Ireland[1]:
      Cess is none other than that which you yourself called imposition [...]
    • 1967, G. R. Madan, Indian Social Problems, volume 2, →ISBN, page 225:
      The act provides for a levy of a cess on all coal and coke despatched from collieries in India, at such rate, not less than twenty-five paise and not more than fifty paise per ton, as may be fixed by the Central Government.
    • 2006, The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Georg Thieme Verlag, page 76:
      Therefore it was proposed to levy a cess on local authorities which are entrusted with the duty of supplying water under the law by or under which they are constituted and on certain specified industries.
  2. (Britain, Ireland, informal) Usually preceded by good or (more commonly) bad: luck or success.
    • 1852 November, O’Hara Family, “Clough Fionn; or, The Stone of Destiny”, in The Dublin University Magazine, a Literary and Political Journal, volume XL, number CCXXXIX, Dublin: James McGlashan, []; London: W[illia]m S[omerville] Orr and Company, OCLC 841086102, chapter XI, page 557:
      "Bad cess may attend you, where are you scampering to, you rambunctious"—but she could go no farther; the tears burst from her, and she gave way, without farther resistance, to an explosion of grief.
    • 1962, News for Farmer Cooperatives[2], Information Office, Farm Credit Administration:
      Midland has had good cess with using minute commercials eight television stations, cited as one example of modernizing its advertising.
    • 1965, Canada Month[3]:
      It is good cess to feel the warmth and sincerity of this couple who fill the role of the Queen's representative in Canada.
    • 2004, Kevin O'Malley, Inside, →ISBN, page 37:
      Bad cess to it, b'ys! Where's the blessed ting, at all, at all? Bad cess to it!
  3. (obsolete) Bound; measure.


cess (third-person singular simple present cesses, present participle cessing, simple past and past participle cessed)

  1. (Britain, Ireland) To levy a cess.
Derived terms[edit]
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Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly from an archaic dialect word meaning “bog”.


the cess is the low area either side of the track

cess (plural cesses)

  1. (rail transport) The area along either side of a railroad track which is kept at a lower level than the sleeper bottom, in order to provide drainage.
  2. (obsolete, dialect) A bog, in particular a peat bog.
  3. (obsolete, dialect) A piece of peat, or a turf, particularly when dried for use as fuel.
Derived terms[edit]

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Etymology 3[edit]

From French cesser. See cease.


cess (third-person singular simple present cesses, present participle cessing, simple past and past participle cessed)

  1. (obsolete, law) To cease; to neglect.
    • 1827, John Perkins, A Profitable Book, Treating of the Laws of England[5]:
      And therefore, if there be lord, mesne, and tenant, and the tenant doth cess, and the mesne takes a wife and dies, his wife shall not have dower of the tenancy...


Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

  • Cess (alternative capitalization)


cess m (definite singular cessen, indefinite plural cessar, definite plural cessane)

  1. (music) C-flat

Derived terms[edit]



cess n

  1. C-flat


Declension of cess 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative cess cesset cess cessen
Genitive cess cessets cess cessens

Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ Lover, Samuel: Legends and Stories of Ireland. 1831 Publishers Wakeman, Dublin; Baldwin and Cradock, London; Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.
  2. ^ Murray, J.A.H. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (2 vols). Publisher: Oxford University Press. 1971. ISBN: 978-0198611172