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In a recent SE answer I've written:

I think that other answerers can address this with more historical thoroughty than I, so I'll defer to their expertise, but it sounds like the LRO frozen orbit is likely the best representative example of what's been achieved to date.

I'd hoped that it would turn out to be a word, and it's possible that others have in the past as well

Google Ngram viewer shows usage of the word surfacing around the beginning of the nineteenth century and reaching a minuscule crescendo around the beginning of the twentieth century before dropping into the noise soon after.

though comments suggest this represents the rate of typographical errors.

To me it seems that while thoroughty had the chance to exist in the English language, somehow thoroughness always had the upper hand and finally won.

Question: Are there any grammatical or historical reasons why thoroughty could not have functioned just as well as thoroughness? Is there a general trend or rule when -ty and -ness are both possible, or has it been essentially random? Are there any cases where they coexist?

The English Lessons Brighton article How to use suffixes to create nouns from adjectives and verbs lists -ness and -ity but not -ty (except in comments) but I don't see any discussion as to how these selections arose.

I'm thinking of uses such as

  • proceed with all due thoroughty/thoroughness
  • they demonstrated exemplary thoroughty/thoroughness

Google Ngram viewer for "thoroughty"

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  • Usage examples in Google Books appears to be a typo of thoroughly. books.google.it/… - books.google.it/…
    – user 66974
    Feb 18, 2021 at 6:19
  • @user66974 thanks, I've incorporated that into the background part of the question.
    – uhoh
    Feb 18, 2021 at 6:32
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    A brief look at the etymology of -ness, -ty and -ity reveals a rich vein of research, going back to old French, old High German, Latin and others. I am not competent to deal with this but it is clear that the question could be pursued by those who are, and that the answer may lie in the influence of these various roots rather than in mere opinion.. I vote to reopen.
    – Anton
    Aug 15, 2022 at 7:26
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    You are welcome. Your question is deep and I hope you continue to use the site. Closures and downvotes are just part of the way the site works to accommodate all viewpoints, and should not discourage anyone from posing questions or answering them.
    – Anton
    Aug 15, 2022 at 11:27

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Are there any grammatical or historical reasons why thoroughty could not have functioned just as well as thoroughness?

There is no reason that I know of that makes it so that -ty necessarily could not have functioned to form a noun thoroughty with the same meaning as the actually existing existing thoroughness. I only mean this in the very weak sense that there is no reason any word, like "thorough" itself, necessarily has the form that it does. Large portions of languages are arbitrary, and could function just as well if they were different from how they actually are.

Is there a general trend or rule when -ty and -ness are both possible, or has it been essentially random?

It is not random: the distribution shows the effects of their historical origins. The ending -ness, a native English suffix, is found attached to a wide range of adjectives, and can easily be attached to create new nouns. The ending -ty, a borrowed element, was often already attached to words at the time they entered English.

Some -ty nouns are built on stems that don't even exist as bare adjectives in English, as with beauty, celerity, integrity.

New -ty nouns mostly tend to be formed on adjectives that have a Latinate ending such as -able, -al, -ous, -ose, -ic, -ive.

Are there any cases where they coexist?

Yes. However, many -ness words have only minor usage compared to their synonymous -ty counterparts. For example, stableness and realness both exist, but are much less common than stability and reality. Some pairs of -ty and -ness nouns have distinct meanings for certain specific senses.

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