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-ling1

1.
a suffix of nouns, often pejorative, denoting one concerned with (hireling; underling), or diminutive (princeling; duckling).
Origin
Middle English, Old English; cognate with German -ling, Old Norse -lingr, Gothic -lings; see -le, -ing1

-ling2

1.
an adverbial suffix expressing direction, position, state, etc.:
darkling; sideling.
Origin
Middle English, Old English; adv. use of gradational variant lang long1
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for -ling

-ling1

suffix
1.
(often derogatory) a person or thing belonging to or associated with the group, activity, or quality specified: nestling, underling
2.
used as a diminutive: duckling
Word Origin
Old English -ling, of Germanic origin; related to Icelandic -lingr, Gothic -lings

-ling2

suffix
1.
in a specified condition, manner, or direction: darkling, sideling
Word Origin
Old English -ling, adverbial suffix
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for -ling

diminutive word-forming element, early 14c., from Old English -ling a nominal suffix (not originally diminutive), from Proto-Germanic *-linga-; attested in historical Germanic languages as a simple suffix, but probably representing a fusion of the suffixes represented by English -le (cf. icicle, thimble, handle), from Old English -ol, -ul, -el; and -ing, suffix indicating "person or thing of a specific kind or origin;" in masculine nouns also "son of" (cf. farthing, atheling, Old English horing "adulterer, fornicator").

Both these suffixes had occasional diminutive force, but this was only slightly evident in Old English -ling and its equivalents in Germanic languages except Norse, where it commonly was used as a diminutive suffix, especially in words designating the young of animals (e.g. gæslingr "gosling"). Thus it is possible that the diminutive use that developed in Middle English is from Old Norse.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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