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nasty +‎ -ness


nastiness (countable and uncountable, plural nastinesses)

  1. (uncountable) Lack of cleanliness.
    • 1684, John Dryden, “The Eighteenth Epistle of the First Book of Horace” in Miscellany Poems, London: Jacob Tonson, 4th edition, 1716, Volume 2, p. 242,[1]
      They neither comb their Head, nor wash their Face,
      But think their virtuous Nastiness a grace.
    • c. 1762, David Hume, The History of England, London: T. Cadell, 1791, Volume 4, Chapter 37, pp. 448-449,[2]
      Erasmus ascribes the frequent plagues in England to the nastiness and dirt and slovenly habits among the people. “The floors,” says he, “are commonly of clay, strewed with rushes, under which lies unmolested an ancient collection of beer, grease, fragments, bones, spittle, excrements of dogs and cats, and every thing that is nasty.”
  2. (uncountable) Dirt, filth.
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders, London: J. Cooke, 1765, p. 295,[3]
      [] the hellish Noise, the Roaring, Swearing, and Clamour, the Stench and Nastiness and all the dreadful Crowd of afflicting Things that I saw there, joined together to make the Place seem an Emblem of Hell itself, and a Kind of entrance into it.
  3. (uncountable) Indecency; corruption; unkindness, meanness, spite, harshness, cruelty.
    • 1995, John Skow, “Snobs and Wetbacks,” Time, 4 September, 1995,[4]
      Among current novelists, Martin Amis lacks intellectual force but is well supplied with nastiness, which occasionally resembles humor.
    • 2017, Teddy Wayne, “The Culture of Nastiness,” New York Times, 18 February, 2017,[5]
      Despite efforts to curb hate speech, eradicate bullying and extend tolerance, a culture of nastiness has metastasized in which meanness is routinely rewarded, and common decency and civility are brushed aside.
  4. (uncountable) Unpleasantness, disagreeableness (to the senses).
    • 1861, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Chapter 2,[6]
      Some medical beast had revived Tar-water in those days as a fine medicine, and Mrs. Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard; having a belief in its virtues correspondent to its nastiness.
    • 2011, Lucinda Baring, “Florida: driving along the Overseas Highway to Key West,” The Daily Telegraph, 5 June, 2011,[7]
      During the day, the surrounding blocks are no better, full of cheesy bars, tacky shops and brash, neon nastiness.
  5. (countable) A nasty action, object, quality, etc. (all senses of nasty).
    • 1854, John Simon, Preface to Reports Relating to the Sanitary Condition of the City of London, London: John W. Parker & Son, p. xx,[8]
      If we, who are educated, habitually submit to have copper in our preserves, red-lead in our cayenne, alum in our bread, pigments in our tea, and ineffable nastinesses in our fish-sauce, what can we expect of the poor?
    • 1899, Charles George Harper, The Bath Road: History, Fashion & Frivolity on an Old Highway, London: Chapman & Hall, Chapter 39, pp. 237-238,[9]
      [] imagine the delights of bathing when the Baths were open to public view, the said public delighting to throw dead cats, offal, and all manner of nastinesses among the bathers!
    • 2001, Arion Berger, “‘New American Language’: Bern Again,” Washington Post, 4 November, 2001,[]
      He’s too thoughtful to pretend he’s speaking for humankind on what passes for a Dan Bern protest song—“Tape” folds in a conversational outreach to a girl (“Baby did you get the tape I sent?”) along with a rundown of various societal nastinesses, including the prescient, “We might get to see World War III by Thanksgiving Day.”