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-ling1 suffix. of Gmc. orig., forming sbs. OE., OS., OHG. -ling, ON. -lingr, Goth, -liggs, comp. of *-ila-; -EL1, -LE1, and *iŋga-; -ING3, but treated as a simple suffix. In OE., added to sbs. to denote a person concerned with …, e.g. hȳrling HIRELING; added to adjs. (occas. an adv.) to denote a person having the quality implied, e.g. dēorling DARLING. In ON. the suffix was dim. in force, esp. in names of the young of animals, e.g. gæslingr GOSLING. ME. and later formations on the same lines are grayling, nestling, sapling; with unfavourable sense (since c.1600), e.g. groundling, worldling. Formations on verb-stems are changeling, starveling, suckling. Many new dim. formations appear from XVI, e.g. lordling, princeling.

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