cleanliness versus cleanness

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Hese, May 26, 2008.

  1. Hese Senior Member

    German
    Hello!

    Just a little question to make sure I got it right:

    cleanliness means a person takes a shower regularly and likes to be clean

    cleanness means you've done a good job when cleaning your flat or house.

    Am I right?

    Thank you
     
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I'm not sure that "cleanness" works for me. My dictionary defines it as a noun but to be perfectly honest, I never hear that word used. Because I never hear it, I'm not sure what context it would be used in.

    In both examples, I would use "cleanliness" ie:

    "He showers twice a day. He has a fetish about cleanliness"
    "Her house is always spic and span. She has a fetish about cleanliness"

    Edit: "Cleanliness" is not specifically used with respect to one's personal hygiene, if that's what you're asking.
     
  3. Hese Senior Member

    German
    Yes exactly. That's the explanation I found in the dictionnary but I am beginning to distrust dictionaries and prefer to come to this forum....
     
  4. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Good idea!:) Many dictionaries (especially online) cover so many obscure words and usages that don't get used. When I first read your post, I was ready to say that there was no such word as "cleanness" until I looked it up. Notwithstanding that it's in the dictionary, I don't think I've heard the word used. I suppose that you could say:

    "The cleanness of her kitchen was amazing" but I honestly think that most everyone would use "cleanliness" in this context.
     
  5. Hese Senior Member

    German
    Ok, I'll use cleanliness in every context to be on the safe side ;-)
     
  6. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    I've never heard of cleanness, is it even a word?
     
  7. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
     
  8. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Hehe, it kinda looks like "finesse"
     
  9. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Certainly cleanness is a word, and an old word. Here are a few of many uses of it in literature:

    For me cleanness is the state of being clean, where cleanliness is a personal habit.

    I don't think cleanliness would work in any of the examples below and the Saki is a good example: to say his one white dinner-waistcoat was in a laundry-returned condition of dazzling cleanliness would be absurd.

    Chaucer: Sumpnour's Tale

    We fare as saith th' apostle; cloth and food clothing
    Suffice us, although they be not full good.
    The cleanness and the fasting of us freres
    Maketh that Christ accepteth our prayeres.


    King James Bible: Psalm 18:

    23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
    24 Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

    Trollope John Caldigate Chapter 43:

    They founded it on the clearness and cleanness of the impression;

    'Saki' Fate:

    Still, Rex lived with some air of comfort and wellbeing, as one can live if one is born with a genius for that sort of thing, and a kindly Providence usually arranged that his week-end invitations coincided with the dates on which his one white dinner-waistcoat was in a laundry-returned condition of dazzling cleanness.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2008
  10. Hese Senior Member

    German
    So my dictionary was right after all? Or is the distinction outdated now?
     
  11. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    In my opinion, cleanliness would be more normal a word, but perhaps cleanness might be appropriate in specific contexts, even in modern texts.
     
  12. Hese Senior Member

    German
    Like talking about a house or clothes?
     
  13. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Google gives 14.6 million hits for "cleanliness" and only 502,000 for "cleanness". Notwithstanding Thomas' terrific research cited in his post, I think it's fair to say that "cleanliness" is used much more commonly than "cleanness". To be honest, I have no idea why it would be absurd to say that "his dinner-waistcoat was in a dazzling state of cleanliness".
     
  14. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Yes, I'd noticed that too, Dimcl. I imagine cleanness is derived from clean and cleanliness from cleanly, not that that gets us very far. Perhaps it's not surprising that the more fussy word should have become more popular. I'm surprised you could easily talk of the cleanliness of a shirt. Perhaps there's an AE/BE divide here.
     
  15. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Well, as you can see from my first post, I didn't even know there was such a word as "cleanness".:) I would use "cleanliness" in every case. As for the AE/BE divide, I would have been tempted to agree with you except for the fact that NZFauna didn't know "cleanness" was a word either. With our mutual historical BE backgrounds, I would have thought that one of us would know the word...
     
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I associate "cleanness" with being clean, and "cleanliness" with keeping clean (oneself or something else).


    "Cleanness" also has other meanings, of course.
     

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