I'm looking for a descriptive word to use when referring to something that is public.

It's better if I give an example:

Consider the adjective red. When something is red you could say it shows some redness.

The same thing with public, but I'm not sure if publicness is a word, and even if it is it just sounds weird.

Edit: Just found out that this class of words are called abstract nouns.

  • Openness? Are you looking for a word ends in -ness? Dec 18, 2019 at 10:02
  • It does not necessarily has to end in -ness. I don't think openness conveys the same meaning, as something could be private but open. The meaning I'm looking for is something along "no one owns it". Dec 18, 2019 at 10:04
  • 1
    "Sharedness" or "communality" are the best I can do; the former means having multiple owners but not necessarily being owned by all/nobody; the latter is in a few dictionaries but has multiple meanings (public spiritedness and public ownership).
    – Stuart F
    Dec 18, 2019 at 10:44
  • 2
    You need to provide a sample sentence where the desired word would be used. This is required for single word requests. It helps us understand what specific meaning of public you want to convey and also indicates the register of the the communication.
    – Phil Sweet
    Dec 18, 2019 at 12:06
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    Available for public, publicly, open for public....? Still unclear what exactly do you mean by the trait of being public. Dec 20, 2019 at 2:13

4 Answers 4


'publicness' is a word. It sounds alright to me, too.


If something is not owned by anyone in particular, we say it is 'public property' or in 'public ownership'.

  • 2
    It sounds like an F# in the key of C. It looks like a striped shirt with plaid pants. It tastes like grilled onions on cake. It tastes like coffee when you're expecting tea. It feels like petting a cat with masking tape.
    – Mitch
    Dec 18, 2019 at 15:43
  • But it is probably better than other options.
    – Mitch
    Dec 18, 2019 at 15:52
  • Thank you! As I stated in the question, I personally believe that 'publicness' sounds a bit weird, and from what I've seen some dictionaries have it but some others don't. So if a good alternative comes up I'll use it. Otherwise, I'll just accept this answer in a few days. Dec 18, 2019 at 23:30

It rather depends on context but if the primary idea is of something not being private property, then Commonality


commonality (n.) c. 1300, "the people of a country, a community," from Old French comunalte, from comun (see common (adj.) as if from Medieval Latin *communalitas. A respelling of commonalty (late 13c.). Meaning "the common people" is attested from 1580s; that of "state or quality of being shared" is from 1954.

  • This would be greatly improved by including a dictionary definition supporting your usage. Aug 25, 2021 at 18:56

Even though it is used as an equivalent to press coverage these days, I think publicity is a word that suits your case.

Publicity: the quality or state of being public


  • 4
    The OED says this meaning is obsolete. And it would indeed confuse everyone if you used it. Dec 18, 2019 at 12:05
  • @PeterShor well Merriam-Webster has this as the first definition and it is almost to the word the same as the definition given in the title of the OP's question. If you hear the word on its own, this is not the first thing most people would think of, but in the right context, it could work! Dec 18, 2019 at 12:07
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    But Lexico doesn't even mention this definition. And American Heritage calls it archaic. And the OED's last citation of it is from 150 ago. Dec 18, 2019 at 12:09
  • I also thought of publicity but then it kind of lost its original meaning :D Dec 18, 2019 at 23:28
  • @almosnow For posterity purposes, I thought I'd leave this answer here. It's a shame when we stop using words and never properly replace them with better alternatives. Also, publicness sounds almost equally weird to me. Dec 19, 2019 at 9:38

While you could go for publicness, it can sound a bit clumsy.

publicness noun The quality, condition, or fact of being public - lexico

You can try synonyms such as exposure, but it might sound better to turn the whole thing around and talk about privacy.

The following Ngram plot suggests that both are more popular choices than publicness.

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