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? – Jalene Dec 18 '19 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". – almosnow Dec 18 '19 at 10:04
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    "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 '19 at 10:44
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    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 '19 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. – Jalene Dec 20 '19 at 2:13

'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'.

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    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 '19 at 15:43
  • But it is probably better than other options. – Mitch Dec 18 '19 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. – almosnow Dec 18 '19 at 23:30

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


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    The OED says this meaning is obsolete. And it would indeed confuse everyone if you used it. – Peter Shor Dec 18 '19 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! – Nikos Hidalgo Dec 18 '19 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. – Peter Shor Dec 18 '19 at 12:09
  • I also thought of publicity but then it kind of lost its original meaning :D – almosnow Dec 18 '19 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. – Nikos Hidalgo Dec 19 '19 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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