-ess [es, is, əs]
[ME -esse, -isse < OFr -esse < LL -issa < Gr] suffix forming nouns
female [lioness]: In nouns of agent ending in -tor or -ter, the vowel is usually dropped before adding -ess [actress] As applied to persons, now often avoided as patronizing or discriminatory [poetess, Negress]

English World dictionary. . 2014.

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