noun, plural (especially collectively) ling, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) lings.
- an elongated, marine, gadid food fish, Molva molva, of Greenland and northern Europe.
- the burbot.
- any of various other elongated food fishes.
- the heather, Calluna vulgaris.
- a suffix of nouns, often pejorative, denoting one concerned with (hireling; underling), or diminutive (princeling; duckling).
- an adverbial suffix expressing direction, position, state, etc.: darkling; sideling.
noun plural ling or lings
- any of several gadoid food fishes of the northern coastal genus Molva, esp M. molva, having an elongated body with long fins
- another name for burbot
- another name for heather (def. 1)
suffix forming nouns
- often derogatory a person or thing belonging to or associated with the group, activity, or quality specifiednestling; underling
- used as a diminutiveduckling
suffix forming adverbs
- in a specified condition, manner, or directiondarkling; sideling
long, slender fish, c.1300, common Germanic, cf. Dutch leng, German Leng, Old Norse langa, probably ultimately related to long (adj.).
diminutive word-forming element, early 14c., from Old English -ling a nominal suffix (not originally diminutive), from Proto-Germanic *-linga-; attested in historical Germanic languages as a simple suffix, but probably representing a fusion of the suffixes represented by English -le (cf. icicle, thimble, handle), from Old English -ol, -ul, -el; and -ing, suffix indicating “person or thing of a specific kind or origin;” in masculine nouns also “son of” (cf. farthing, atheling, Old English horing “adulterer, fornicator”).
Both these suffixes had occasional diminutive force, but this was only slightly evident in Old English -ling and its equivalents in Germanic languages except Norse, where it commonly was used as a diminutive suffix, especially in words designating the young of animals (e.g. gæslingr “gosling”). Thus it is possible that the diminutive use that developed in Middle English is from Old Norse.