noun, plural (especially collectively) ling, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) lings.

  1. an elongated, marine, gadid food fish, Molva molva, of Greenland and northern Europe.
  2. the burbot.
  3. any of various other elongated food fishes.


  1. the heather, Calluna vulgaris.

  1. linguistics.

  1. a suffix of nouns, often pejorative, denoting one concerned with (hireling; underling), or diminutive (princeling; duckling).

  1. an adverbial suffix expressing direction, position, state, etc.: darkling; sideling.

noun plural ling or lings

  1. any of several gadoid food fishes of the northern coastal genus Molva, esp M. molva, having an elongated body with long fins
  2. another name for burbot


  1. another name for heather (def. 1)

abbreviation for

  1. linguistics

suffix forming nouns

  1. often derogatory a person or thing belonging to or associated with the group, activity, or quality specifiednestling; underling
  2. used as a diminutiveduckling

suffix forming adverbs

  1. 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.

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