Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun suffix \iŋ also ēŋ; in some dialects & in other dialects informally in, ən also ēn; after certain consonants ən, əm, əŋ\

Definition of -ing

  1. 1 :  action or process <running> <sleeping> :  instance of an action or process <a meeting>

  2. 2 a :  product or result of an action or process <an engraving> —often in plural <earnings> b :  something used in an action or process <a bed covering> <the lining of a coat>

  3. 3 :  action or process connected with (a specified thing) <boating>

  4. 4 :  something connected with, consisting of, or used in making (a specified thing) <scaffolding> <shirting>

  5. 5 :  something related to (a specified concept) <offing>

Origin and Etymology of -ing

Middle English, from Old English -ung, -ing, suffix forming nouns from verbs; akin to Old High German -ung, suffix forming nouns from verbs



noun suffix

Definition of -ing

  1. :  one of a (specified) kind <sweeting>

Origin and Etymology of -ing

Middle English, from Old English -ing, -ung; akin to Old High German -ing one of a (specified) kind



verb suffix or adjective suffix

Simple Definition of -ing

  • —used to form the present participle of a verb

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of -ing

  1. —used to form the present participle <sailing> and sometimes to form an adjective resembling a present participle but not derived from a verb <swashbuckling>

Usage Discussion of -ing

Though the pronunciation of -ing with the consonant \n\, misleadingly referred to as “dropping the g,” is often deprecated, this pronunciation is frequently heard. It is not known for certain why the Middle English present participle ending -ende was replaced by -ing. Analogy with the earlier noun suffix -ing probably had something to do with it. In early Modern English, present participles were regularly formed with -ing pronounced \iŋg\ (as can still be heard in a few dialects) and later \iŋ\. Evidence also shows that some speakers used \in\ and by the 18th century this pronunciation became widespread. Though teachers (with some success) campaigned against it, \in\ remained a feature of the speech of many of the best speakers in Britain and the United States well into the 20th century. It has by now lost its respectability, at least when attention is drawn to it, but throughout the United States it persists largely unnoticed and in some dialects it predominates over \iŋ\.

Origin and Etymology of -ing

Middle English, probably from 1-ing

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up -ing? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a very small amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is the correct spelling?

acommadate accomodate acommodate accommodate
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.