vulnerability vs. vulnerableness

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The Lord of Gluttony

Senior Member
Hello, :)

Do these words have the same meaning? Are both of them are completely interchangeable?
Which one would you use in order to mean "the state of being vulnerable"? And which one would you advise me to use in order to mean "the state of being vulnerable"?

Oxford Dictionary says both of them are the same. (Link) Or I understand it in this way.

Many thanks :)
  • Ben pan

    Senior Member
    The traditional view will be that the ness and ity carry not only morpho-syntactic, but also semantic information. But I think the difference in meaning between ness noun and ity noun, if there is any,takes shape in the historical development of them. It is hard to give a general rule. So if OED which is based on historical principle does not say anything about the difference between vulnerability and vulnerableness, we are safe to treat them as equals.

    Maybe there is some rule to use them, which can be derived from the usage of other similar pairs of words. Somebody might teach me about it.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I had never heard of "vulnerableness" until today, and I would never think of using it. (Yes, it's a word, and it means the same as vulnerability.)

    My browser's spellchecker indicates that the word is new to it, too.


    Senior Member
    British English
    Vulnerableness is not used in contemporary English. The last example in the OED dates from 1894. Don't use it. Most readers will assume that you are using a word that doesn't exist (I would have done so if I had not seen this thread).
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