- -ess ► SUFFIX ▪ forming nouns denoting female gender: abbess.USAGE In modern English, feminine forms (e.g. poetess, authoress) are likely to be regarded as old-fashioned or sexist and should be avoided in favour of the ‘neutral’ base form (e.g. poet, author).ORIGIN French -esse, from Greek -issa.
English terms dictionary. 2015.