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Most English nouns that end in -ity seem to have -idad endings in Spanish. But "stupidity" is "estupidez". Is there a reason? And are there other Spanish nouns that end that way?

  • Made the title a little more clear. Hope the answer helps! - StuartSD Feb 14, 2012 flag

3 Answers

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Hi Doogaloop, I'm not sure if there is a formal rule or reason as to why "-ity" words end differently, but I can think of another example off the top of my head. "Clarity" is "nitidez". Remember that our translator/dictionary super-search box in the upper-right hand corner can always answer this question for you.

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pity (yes it is a noun) = lástima


  • piedad too - ian-hill Feb 14, 2012 flag
  • Ha! But I think the "ity" words are nouns made from adjectives such as floridity, humidity, frigidity (from forid, humid frigid adjectives). Pity is not one of thosej(I don't think) - Lector_Const Feb 14, 2012 flag
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You'd be better served trying to understand Spanish patterns from the perspective of the Spanish language, not that of the English. Here are RAE's definitions of the two suffixes:


(Del lat. -tas, -ātis).

  1. suf. Significa 'cualidad' en sustantivos abstractos derivados de adjetivos. Si el adjetivo base es bisílabo, suele tomar la forma -edad. Mocedad, cortedad, terquedad. También la toman los adjetivos terminados en -io. Suciedad, obligatoriedad, precariedad. Si el adjetivo es de más de dos sílabas, toma, en general, la forma -idad. Barbaridad, afectuosidad, efectividad. La forma -dad aparece solo detrás de l o n. Liviandad, maldad, ruindad. Cuando -dad se aplica a adjetivos verbales en -ble, se forman derivados terminados en -bilidad. Culpabilidad.


  1. suf. En sustantivos abstractos femeninos, designa la cualidad expresada por el adjetivo del que deriva. Altivez, brillantez, lucidez.

Along these definitions, it looks like "-dad" is the more commonly used suffix. I'm having trouble coming up with a pattern, if there even exists one, as to when an adjective takes "-dad" and when one takes "-ez."

EDIT: This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it looks like adjectives that end with a "d" and then a vowel usually take the "-ez" suffix, possibly because "vowel-d-idad" is difficult to pronounce. If a word ends with an approximant or lateral approximant, it takes the "-dad" suffix. This seems like it would be a very intricate and complex system for the derivation of these words, for which there will always be the odd exception, so I think I'll stop here.

My suggestion would be to just sound out the words if you have any doubt. One will usually sound better than the other. grin

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