Let’s have a look at the word “genuine.”
If we wanted to turn it into a noun, should we use the suffix “-ness,” giving us “genuineness,” or should we use the suffix “-ity” to produce the word “genuinity”?
Well, let’s find out!
Is it “genuinity” or “genuineness”?
The correct answer is “genuineness.” That’s the noun agreed to by dictionaries, and it’s the one most people use today. However, according to Googe N-Gram Viewer, “genuinity” is also in use today, but it is far less popular than “genuineness.”
Things are a bit tricky, though.
So, let us dive a bit deeper.
First, let’s dispel the notion that language has hard, clear rules like those of mathematics or physics. Instead, the rules of language are flexible and always changing.
In fact, what gives any linguistic rule legitimacy isn’t something abstract or ethereal. There are no platonic ideals when it comes to language.
Rather, linguistic rules get their legitimacy from the agreement of the majority.
In other words, a rule is only a rule because we, the users of the language in question, collectively agree to make it so.
This is why different dialects may have different rules, yet no one can claim that one dialect is more correct than the other.
All these different dialects are just different agreements made among different communities.
And, when a community collectively agrees to change a certain rule, that rule effectively changes.
That’s how language evolves and new words become a new language while old ones fade into oblivion.
After all, when was the last time you heard someone use the words “thou” and “thrice” in the same sentence? (Obviously, if you are a fan of Shakespearean plays, then you have probably heard these words before, but that’s a different case.)
So, when determining which noun of thetwo, “genuineness” or“genuinity,” is the one we should use, our best recourse is to look at which one the majority agree on.
After all, language is one of the few areas where conformity matters.
To that end, we will find that “genuineness” is what the majority use. You will find it in most dictionaries, and those same dictionaries may not even realize the other two options.
Nevertheless, if you were to look at the Urban dictionary, for instance, you would find the word “genuinity” there, defined as “the measure of how genuine something is.”
So, you shouldn’t rule it out altogether, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you come across it.
And, to make matters even a bit more complicated, there’s even another candidate, namely “genuity.”
“Genuinity” vs.“genuineness” vs.“genuity”: What Google says
|Term||Most Accepted||Historical Usage||Current Usage Frequency||Future Trend|
|Genuineness||Yes (the official version as listed in dictionaries)||Since the 1800s||Most frequent (0.0000563%)||Leading|
|Genuity||No||Since the 1800s||Least frequent (0.0000000769%)||Declining|
|Genuinity||No||Since the 1860s||Mid-level frequency (0.0000001777%)||Rising|
To drive the point home, let’s see what Google has to say. Google offers internet users a very handy tool called “Google Books Ngram Viewer.”
Basically, this tool enables you to see the percentage of times a certain word is used in all of the books scanned and digitized by Google.
For instance, when we look up the words “hello” and “the,” we find that “hello” is used less than 0.00047 percent of the time whereas “the” is used more than 4 percent of the time.
This means that writers use the word “the” around 10,000 times more than they use the word “hello. This should come as no surprise.
Now, let’s use this powerful tool to look at the words “genuineness,” “genuinity,” and “genuity.”
Starting from the 1800s, both “genuineness” and “genuity” were in use.
However, while “genuity” was used less than 0.00000884 percent of the time, “genuineness” was used around 0.00015 percent out of all documented words.
This means that “genuineness” was used around 17 times more than “genuity.”
During that time, there is no record of the word “genuinity.” In fact, the word “genuinity” doesn’t make an appearance until the middle of the nineteenth century, around the beginning of the 1860s.
If we move forward a couple of centuries to arrive at the present day, we will find that all three words are in use, but the ratios are way out of wack.
For starters, “genuineness” is used around 0.0000563 percent of the time, representing a considerable drop from where it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Interestingly, the word “genuity” has also dropped in usage, racking up around 0.0000000769 percent (that’s a decimal point followed by seven zeroes for those of you too lazy to count.)
As for “genuinity,” its usage amounts to 0.0000001777 percent.
Now, there are a few things to notice here.
First of all, “genuinity” has surpassed “genuity” in popularity by more than a factor of two.
This is considerable since no one was using “genuinity” just a couple of centuries ago.
The other thing to notice is that “genuineness” is still in the clear lead. It is used more than 300 times than “genuinity” and more than 730 times than “genuity.”
Ergo, with these numbers, it should be clear why you should use “genuineness.”
Yet, just as “genuinity” surpassed “genuity” over time, it might very well become the case that “genuinity” will surpass “genuineness” in popularity over the next century or so.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.