a suffix used to form nouns either from adjectives in -ant or from verbs: brilliance; appearance.

Middle English < Old French < Latin -antia -ancy, equivalent to -ant- -ant + -ia -y3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
-ance or -ancy
suffix forming nouns
Compare -ence indicating an action, state or condition, or quality: hindrance; tenancy; resemblance
[via Old French from Latin -antia; see -ancy]
-ancy or -ancy
suffix forming nouns
[via Old French from Latin -antia; see -ancy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

suffix attached to verbs to form abstract nouns of process or fact (convergence from converge), or of state or quality (absence from absent); ult. from L. -antia and -entia, which depended on the vowel in the stem word. As Old French evolved from Latin, these were leveled to -ance, but later French borrowings
from Latin (some of them subsequently passed to English) used the appropriate Latin form of the ending, as did words borrowed by English directly from Latin (diligence, absence). English thus inherited a confused mass of words from French and further confused it since c.1500 by restoring -ence selectively in some forms of these words to conform with Latin. Thus dependant, but independence, etc.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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