Additional “ness” monsters sighted

“Tenaciousness” for “tenacity” (a physicist interwiewed on ABC News)

“Impetuousness” for “impetuosity” (from Inversions, by Iain Banks)

These seem to me to illustrate the two poles of “ness” monstrosity: “tenaciousness” is a long, ugly substitute for “tenacity,” a nice, vigorous word.

By contrast, “impetuosity” actually adds a syllable to “impetuousness.” The claim that “impetuosity” is superior must rest either on educated usage (since it’s hard to argue that the -ity ending is truly more regular than the -ness ending) or on the avoidance of the ugly repeated sibilant of “ousness.” [Update: my source points out that the stress pattern of “impetuosity” makes it more suitable in poetic us than “impetuousness. Fair enough.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: