I have come across all these phrases

  • in all earnest
  • in all earnesty
  • in all earnestness

Is it ok to use any of them?

Example sentence with the first version:
I intend to complete my assigned tasks in all earnest

  • 1
    I do not recall hearing any of those phrases. ‘In all honesty’ is a common phrase, and so is ‘in earnest’ (though neither would fit your example sentence semantically), and it would be very simple for someone to get them mixed up and start saying ‘in all earnest(y)’. If Google is anything to go by, ‘in all earnestness’ is more common and perhaps less of a conglobulation, but I can’t say I’d ever say it myself. Sounds clumsy to my ear. Dec 6, 2013 at 20:19
  • 3
    I think "in all sincerity" could be a good replacement in the example sentence.
    – Gautam
    Dec 7, 2013 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


Earnestness is a noun (according to Dictionary.com), so in all earnestness works. I have, in fact, said that very phrase in the past.

Earnesty doesn't seem to be a word, insofar as it is not found in the same dictionary, and earnest, in the sense you're using it here, is an adjective.

  • 3
    Earnest does exist as a (rather rare) noun, but with a different meaning, given by the OED as "Money, or a sum of money, paid as an instalment, esp. for the purpose of securing a bargain or contract. Also fig. A foretaste, instalment, pledge, of anything afterwards to be received in greater abundance. †Phrase, on (in, for) earnest : by way of earnest, as an instalment or foretaste." The more common meaning of in earnest is an adverbial use like in short, not a noun.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 7, 2013 at 0:15
  • 1
    Ah yes, a good point. I'll update my answer.
    – Pat J
    Dec 7, 2013 at 0:16
  • 3
    Earnesty is also given in the OED as an obsolete synonym of "earnestness".
    – sehrgut
    May 30, 2018 at 14:41

Not a word, because few if any dictionaries include it.

'Earnest' is an adjective. 'Earnest' can be a noun, but with definite limits. 'Earnestness' is a word whose meaning cannot be misconstrued, but is almost too much of a mouthful. 'Earnesty' should be a noun and if enough people use it as a noun, that should do it.

Why not?

Illiterates let 'dilemma' do for ANY problem just a plain question. They pull out 'issue' when 'problem', 'matter', 'concern', 'challenge', 'worry', or 'point-of-contention' would let let others know WTF was meant. It's as bad as 'like' for other word.

So champion a word, when the need for it is very real. Why let educated and uneducated illiterates shape the language?

  • Mouthful? The Constantinopolitans wouldn't think so.
    – Kris
    Jan 24, 2014 at 6:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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