a suffix of nouns formed from verbs, expressing the action of the verb or its result, product, material, etc. (the art of building; a new building; cotton wadding ). It is also used to form nouns from words other than verbs (offing; shirting ). Verbal nouns ending in -ing are often used attributively (the printing trade ) and in forming compounds (drinking song ). In some compounds (sewing machine ), the first element might reasonably be regarded as the participial adjective, -ing2, the compound thus meaning “a machine that sews,” but it is commonly taken as a verbal noun, the compound being explained as “a machine for sewing.”
Compare -ing2.

Middle English; Old English -ing, -ung

Dictionary.com Unabridged


a suffix forming the present participle of verbs (walking; thinking ), such participles being often used as participial adjectives: warring factions.
Compare -ing1.

Middle English -ing, -inge; the variant -in (usually represented in spelling as -inʾ) continues Middle English -inde, -ende, Old English -ende

The common suffix -ing 2 can be pronounced in modern English as either [‐ing] or [‐in] with either the velar nasal consonant [ng] symbolized in IPA as [ŋ], or the alveolar nasal consonant [n] symbolized in IPA as [n]. The [‐in] pronunciation therefore reflects the use of one nasal as against another and not, as is popularly supposed, “dropping the g, ” since no actual g -sound is involved.
Many speakers use both pronunciations, depending on the speed of utterance and the relative formality of the occasion, with [‐ing] considered the more formal variant. For some educated speakers, especially in the southern United States and Britain, [‐in] is in fact the more common pronunciation, while for other educated speakers, [‐ing] is common in virtually all circumstances. In response to correction from perceived authorities, many American speakers who would ordinarily use [‐in] at least some of the time make a conscious effort to say [‐ing] even in informal circumstances.


a native English suffix meaning “one belonging to,” “of the kind of,” “one descended from,” and sometimes having a diminutive force, formerly used in the formation of nouns: farthing; shilling; bunting; gelding; whiting.
Compare -ling1.

Middle English, Old English -ing, cognate with Old Norse -ingr, -ungr, Gothic -ings

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To -ing
World English Dictionary
suffix forming nouns
1.  (from verbs) the action of, process of, result of, or something connected with the verb: coming; meeting; a wedding; winnings
2.  (from other nouns) something used in, consisting of, involving, etc: tubing; soldiering
3.  (from other parts of speech): an outing
[Old English -ing, -ung]

1.  forming the present participle of verbs: walking; believing
2.  forming participial adjectives: a growing boy; a sinking ship
3.  forming adjectives not derived from verbs: swashbuckling
[Middle English -ing, -inde, from Old English -ende]

suffix forming nouns
a person or thing having a certain quality or being of a certain kind: sweeting; whiting
[Old English -ing; related to Old Norse -ingr]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

suffix attached to verbs to mean their action, result, product, material, etc., from O.E. -ing, -ung, from P.Gmc. *unga (cf. O.N. -ing, Du. -ing, Ger. -ung). Originally used to form nouns from verbs and to denote completed or habitual action. Its use has been greatly expanded in M.E. and Mod.Eng. The
other use of -ing is to form the prp. of verbs, and in this sense it developed from O.E. -ende (cf. Ger. -end, Goth. -and, Skt. -ant, Gk. -on, L. -ans). It evolved into -ing in 13c.-14c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Nearby Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature