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From Middle English fastnesse, festnesse (firmness; certainty; stronghold; firmament), from Old English fæstnes, fæstnis (firmness; stronghold; firmament), equivalent to fast +‎ -ness.


fastness (countable and uncountable, plural fastnesses)

  1. A secure or fortified place; a stronghold, a fortress.
    • 1917, Edgar Rice Burroughs, “chapter VII”, in A Princess of Mars[1],, published 1917:
      The incubators are built in remote fastnesses, where there is little or no likelihood of their being discovered by other tribes.
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 4
      When she came to know writers it was like adventuring upon a stage which till then she had known only from the other side of the footlights. She saw them dramatically, and really seemed herself to live a larger life because she entertained them and visited them in their fastnesses.
  2. The state of being fast.
    1. Firmness, security.
    2. Rapidity, swiftness.
  3. The ability of a dye to withstand fading.

Derived terms[edit]