I needed to write a word that expressed the quality of being fast-paced.

"Fast-pacedness" sounded off and I looked the dictionaries up.

Collins is my favourite one. Webster I use when I need to give a word a casual glance. Oxford seems to have the most formal descriptions.

None of them contained the word.

Which leaves me thinking what's the criterion in the first place, for that not to be a possible word.

And of course, I rephrased my sentence and it looked much better then, but I remain with a question that's worth, I assume.


The context was located inside a debate where it is assumed that the world changes very fast. There [supposedly] is a generalised fast-paced[ness] affecting and permeating basically everything, which was not there in the 18th century and before, and was [also supposedly] noted by writers beginning in the 19th and ahead.

Although there's no sources or quotes about these supposed writers, the book that started the discussion repeats this assertion often, and I wanted to capture this quality of being fast-paced in a single word. There are other aspects not related to velocity, but change, but I was not concerned about that for a choice of words.

  • Could you give the whole sentence. We normally require context for a phrase not just a few isolated words. Thanks. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 1:26
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    @chasly-supportsMonica context provided. I hope it suffices.
    – Otter
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 2:00
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    Some "past participle adjectives" can be idiomatically nounified with the -ness suffix (farsightedness, indebtedness,...). But many others (including OP's "coinage") look a bit peculiar. The noun for adjectival delighted isn't normally delightedness - it's just delight. And for content it's usually contentment rather than contentedness. But even if there is a "non-ness" version of the word available, that doesn't mean the "-ness" form isn't a "word". It's just much less likely to be used. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 13:06
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    Have you considered "fast pace"? The noun form is already there.
    – Tashus
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 15:13
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    i've seen "fast paced ness" (with/without various hyphens) any number of times in the startup scene, eg in job ads. it's of no consequence
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 16:39

4 Answers 4


Why sure you can, and indeed you have just done so!

I really cannot imagine what it is that makes you think you cannot do what you have just yourself done. Do you mistrust your own eyes? What’s the source of your afraidness here regarding fast-pacedness?

Perhaps it’s just its nonceness or ad-hoc-ness, its brand-newness or its yuckiness, or even its unapproachableness, but those are all their own concerns unrelated to what you have created.

Why? Because -ness is particularly superpowered among English derivational suffixes, that’s why. It does what it pleases, as too should you. It is a suffix of neverending plentifulness, for its cornucopiousness knows no bottom!

I strongly recommend that you read Aranoff and Fuhrhop’s 2002 paper on Restricting Suffix Combinations in German and English: Closing Suffixes and the Monosuffix Constraint, published in the journal Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.

There you will learn that -ness is the most liberal of all derivational suffixes, one that freely combines with nearly any base, even atop Latinate bases or piling atop not merely Germanic bases but even other Germanic suffixes, two things that just never happen with other Germanic derivational suffixes.

That’s why you can have cluelessness but not cluenessless. Heck, you can even have admissibleness! It doesn’t even have to be one word, which is where anal retentiveness comes into the picture.

So do as you will with your fast-pacedness. Just consider it your superpoweredness shining through. Eventually your friends may tire of your shock-and-awe-ness, but don’t let them hold you back! Be creative!

The OED Speaks

The OED says that the twin etymons of paced the adjective are pace the verb combined with the -ed inflectional morpheme. The verb appeared in print a couple of centuries after the noun, which dates to 1300. The primary sense they give for the adjective is:

  1. Having a particular pace, gait, or rate of walking or moving. Chiefly as the second element in compounds.

    For more established compounds, see the first element; recorded earliest in well-paced adj. 1, with reference to a woman metaphorically likened to a horse.

(Sense 1 is the one that applies here; their senses 2 and 3 are for other sorts of uses.)

Here is that earliest citation just now mentioned:

  • ?1523 J. Fitzherbert Bk. Husbandry f. xxxiᵛ
    The first [property of a woman] is to be mery of chere, the seconde to be well pased.

As you see, spelling was not yet at all standardized during late Middle English. They then proceed to illustrate the historical progression of the dominant spellings used over many centuries, including in this order and beginning with the first just given: well pased, slowe paste, high-pac’d, slowly pac’d, middle paced, slow-pac’d, stealthy-paced, quick-paced.

Elsewhere in the OED they separately document all of broken-paced, easy-paced, fine-paced, firm-paced, giddy-paced, half-paced, heavy-paced, lazy-paced, lofty-paced, medium-paced, motor-paced, proud-paced, quick-paced, slow-paced, snail-paced, swift-paced, tandem-paced, thorough-paced, tortoise-paced, true-paced.

As you see, it’s used in really all sorts of compounds, many of them rather more unusual that you own. Honestly, given quick-paced and swift-paced, not to mention slow-paced and tortoise-paced, what can possibly be “wrong” with your fast-pacedness? It lacks but a -ness, which is covered in the section previous to this one and in the section subsequent to this one alike.

Their most recent citation included under the paced headword is ideally paced, which is an open compound:

  • 1990 Gramophone May 1982/2
    A buoyant, ideally paced scherzo whose refulgent second subject Litton pointedly relishes even more on its second appearance.

My personal conclusion, based solely on OED inspection alone, is that your own version is unremarkable, no matter whether viewed diachronically or synchronically.

Published Citations of -pacedness

Here for your delectation are a couple of centuries’ worth of references to published instances of various sorts of X-pacedness terms. I see no difference whatsoever between swift-pacedness or slow-pacedness and the asker’s fast-pacedness.

  • 1823 European Magazine and London Review, Volume 84, p 141.
    This thorough-pacedness has communicated itself to his pleasures as well as his labours; and he runs through the business of relaxation with earnestness, because he has deliberated and resolved upon it.

  • 1836 Isaac Taylor The Characters of Theophrastus, p. 77
    In this movement there is that peculiar character of even-pacedness which belongs to all the undisturbed operations of nature.

  • 1884 L.H. Grindon Life: Its Nature, Varieties, and Phenomena, p. 397 Virtue, wisdom, poetry, the Bible, are matters which from intellectual slow-pacedness, or moral disrelish, excite only moieties of interest, but life is the central, universal, indomitable solicitude.

  • 1892 The American Magazine, Volume 34, p. 349
    Scientific development has invested most things with a modern air of improvement and utility that contrasts violently with the staidness and slow-pacedness so characteristic of the age of our grandfathers.

  • 1903 E.V. Lucas The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb: Letters, 1796-1834, p. 14
    Your simile of the Laplander..will bear comparison with any in Milton for fullness of circumstance and lofty-pacedness of Versification.

  • 1983 S.G. Abbas The Immortal Poetry & Mir Anis, p. 174 Very like the presentation of the qualities of the sword, Anis made a description of the grace, faithfulness, agility, trot and swift-pacedness of the horse.

  • 1985 J.M. Heath and M. Payne Text, Interpretation, Theory, p 170
    ..to Tennyson's use of “the most characteristic of the Keatsian metonymies, which is the substitution of a near-stasis or slow-pacedness for the language of the sense, for the sounds and sights of passing time.”

  • 1985 Peter Clark A Review of the Theories of Time and Structure for Organizational Sociology, p. 31
    Probably the other most important dimensions requiring investigation are societal expectations about the even pacedness of working and excitement control (Elias, 1982).

  • 1994 Industrial & Labor Relations Review Volume 48, p. 335
    We then ran preliminary regressions with salaried status as the dependent variable and a “pacedness” variable (combining the three measures of pacedness into one) as one of the independent variables..

  • 1999 K. Jahandarie Spoken and Written Discourse: A Multi-disciplinary Perspective, p. 133
    In his Dialogues on the Differences Between Speaking and Writing, Pedro de Navarra, the 16th-century Spanish linguist, referred to several such differences, including the evanescence, contextuality, other-pacedness, and redundancy of speech vs. the permanents, autonomy, self-pacedness, and conciseness of writing

  • 2012 M.S. Frings Philosophy of Prediction and Capitalism, p. 3
    This slow-pacedness of philosophical thinking does not, however, agree very well with the restless speed of our lives and present-day cravings for ever faster short-term solutions of all impending problems.

And although these terms may not be especially popular for any number of possible reasons, they are certainly morphologically grammatical and can be found here and there in various published works from the past 200 years.

Post script

No dictionary can ever tell you something is not a word!

  • 24
    I confess I laughed, because your answer was just so funny to read. Yet it delivered a compelling argument. I think I'll just leave it open for now so as to see what comes next. It is always good to see all the perspectives coming up.
    – Otter
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 2:28
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    But apart of that, I think my language insecurities are just a side-effect of being open-minded and always eager to learn more. I never consider what I know as definite, so indeed when I have the slightest doubt, I ask. I was also concerned about the academicness of the term, maybe so more than anything else, haha. Thanks for taking the time, I appreciate your answer.
    – Otter
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 2:31
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    @EdwinAshworth "refermatting" Is that like, widening the margins?
    – philipxy
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 22:14
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    @philipxy Fermat should have submitted an answer rather than complaining about the restrictions accompanying comments. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 11:51
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    I disagree that a normal English speaker would opt for "admissibleness" over "admissibility." The "-ity" suffix is ubiquitous following "-able" or "-ible" because of derivation from "able" and "ability." I would certainly object to the use of "admissibleness" in formal writing. (The lesson here should be "follow the rules in formal writing unless you're being clever, but don't let anyone tell you how to speak in informal situations.") Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 13:52

I can think of lots of possible alternatives, e.g.

alacrity, briskness, dispatch, haste, hurry, hustle, etc.

However I don't think that is what you are asking. fast-pacedness sounds okay to me. I wouldn't want to overuse it though.

Notice that conventionally the pronunciation would change so as to clearly pronounce the "ed" syllable.

The original phrase "fast paced" is sounded as "fast paste". With the addition of "-ness" you would hear:

fast pace-ed-ness

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    The point about pronunciation is one of the most important things to be aware of. It applies to other words too, such as fixedly: fik-sid-ly, not *fixt-ly. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 11:45
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    I'm not that keen on diseasedness, detachedness, for example, but even if I did use them, I'd never actually enunciate the Past Partciple -ed element. I don't suppose any dictionaries would include fast-pacedness anyway - but if they did, I wouldn't expect to see it listed as four syllables. And TheFreeDictionary has detachedness (dɪˈtætʃtnəs) - the quality of being detached or separated (3 syllables). Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 14:54
  • @FumbleFingers - The problem with "Pasteness" as it would sound under your scheme, is that it resembles the name of a heroine in a movie for young adults rather than a proper word. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 15:48
  • @chasly-supportsMonica: I don't know anything about that. But I do know that Upstart Crow made great play of Robert Greene (mis)pronouncing -ed (in words like contained, where it just sounds silly / humorous rather than learned). And I personally probably wouldn't enunciate that -ed in fast-pacedness, regardless of context. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 16:13
  • @FumbleFingers - Upstart Crow is full of anachronisms and nonsensical humour. Pronunciation in Shakespeare's day was in flux and people were beginning to drop the clear "ed" in favour of the vowel-less version. Both could be heard in common use. There are plenty of current English words that retain the full sound of "ed". I suggest that "fast-pacedness" is a suitable candidate because as a nonce word, it needs to be said distinctly or no-one will recognise it. If it is pronounced "fastpasteness" it will be unintelligible to people who haven't heard it before. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 14:33

"pace" is already a noun. "pacedness" is a noun turned into an adjective turned into a noun. While it's not completely prohibited, it's a bit awkward. If you want to talk about the property of being fast paced, you should just say "fast pace": "There [supposedly] is a generalised fast pace affecting and permeating basically everything."

  • You may have missed a step there. The OED says paced came from the verb that was zero-converted from the noun, so it's the normal part-participle version of -ed that provided the adjective, not the other version of -ed used on nouns to derive adjectives like snaggletoothed.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 4:51

Addressing the spirit of the question - specific answers about "fast-pacedness" have already been given.

In English (as with plenty of other languages) you can create words by composition- combining morphemes in different ways. Attaching prefixes or suffixes to a base word is an extremely common way to do that. Anything you can fabricate from morphemes is technically a grammatically correct an acceptable word to all but the strictest proponents of prescriptive grammar. (See comments.)

That said, just because something is technically not incorrect doesn't mean it should be used indiscriminately. At least, you should be aware of the way uncommon composite words sound to native speakers. The excellent answer from tchrist contains plenty of such words, and while they make the answer fun to read, even one of them makes it appear that Doctor Seuss is writing.

"Cornucopious" is a rather advanced adjective. "Cornucopiousness" sounds exceedingly silly, which you might like in creative writing, but not a debate. "Afraidness" might be written to convey a very child-like or whimsical tone, but in everyday speech you will always hear "fear."

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    Your assertion that “anything you can fabricate with morphemes is technically a grammatical correct word” is completely wrong. That’s the key point of the referenced paper. We have two disjoint sets of grammars, one governing Germanic suffixation and another Latinate suffixation. For example, adding Latinate ‑ation to Latinate verb accuse makes accusation, but added to Germanic verb clobber results in ❌ clobberation, an ᴜɴɢʀᴀᴍᴍᴀᴛɪᴄᴀʟ form.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 23:38
  • Sure, I concede that at the most technical level they are not grammatically correct. They will still be accepted as an English word by 99% of speakers (i.e. anyone without a language arts degree, and any descriptivists with one) to the same degree as the funny-sounding "cornucopiousness" would. Words like polyamorous, composed of a Greek prefix and a Latin base and suffix, indeed appear in Collins dictionary. That's the point I really want to make, and I'm happy to make a quick edit to avoid the impending prescriptive vs. descriptive debate
    – automaton
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:15
  • Darn, I guess you haven't read the paper after all, have you? There are firm suffixation restrictions that nobody will accept. It isn't a matter of language purism. These are the underlying real rules of English grammar which linguists have discovered, not made-up "rules" from school teachers who think they get to tell you how to talk. Adding suffixes after -ness forms ungrammatical compounds forbidden by these restrictions. Attempts like righteousnessdomshipicitarial simply cannot happen, and no native speaker will ever accept them.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 1:31

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