English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Are these interchangeable, or is there a semantic difference between them? When should I use serenity vs. sereneness?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Kris, tchrist, Bravo, Kristina Lopez, Matt E. Эллен Mar 8 '13 at 13:05

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Not very different from the -ness and -ity suffixes of any other word. There is a difference. I'd say the question is GR. – Kris Mar 7 '13 at 7:28
@Kris - It may be better suited to ELL but I wouldn't say General Reference. Simply looking these two up in a dictionary you wouldn't see a difference and as you said - there is a clear answer for which one you should use. – Lynn Mar 8 '13 at 10:29

There does not appear to be any academic difference judging from their dictionary definitions and I am not aware of any subtle difference between the two:

Sereneness - noun form of serene

Serenity - noun, having the state or quality of being serene

In practice, however, the usage of sereneness is practically nil compared to serenity, as evidenced by this NGram.

share|improve this answer
Adding '-ness' usually turns an adjective into a noun. But there are other ways depending on the adjective. In other words, 'sereneness' is not really a word because 'serenity' already is there. (or those who have (erroneously) used the word 'sereneness' couldn't remember...the other one). Just because the dictionary has an entry for it doesn't mean anybody actually uses it. – Mitch Mar 7 '13 at 4:33
@Mitch - The fact that M-W calls it out explicitly makes it a "real word" in my book, but I think we are in agreement that serenity is more appropriate. – Lynn Mar 7 '13 at 5:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.