Quick answer: No, unforgiveness is not an English word.
Have we been foolish for using it for so long? Definitely not!
Then why is it so popular?
Relax, take a deep breath and let’s discuss it.
Forgiveness (noun) is the act of not blaming, not being angry or not punishing someone for something they have done to you. The opposite—as a rule—should be a noun, so unforgiveness was coined and it became popular.
Research has shown that you cannot find this word in any English dictionary and that it emanated from religious teachings. Some use it, not because they think it is a word, but because it naturally sounds like the opposite of forgiveness.
However, unforgiveness, as popular as it is, has not been included in the corpus of English words. This word is used all over the world and it seems it is only people who add words to dictionaries that refuse to acknowledge it.
Someone said we can’t use unforgiveness because it means you forgive someone but want to take it back.
How then can we explain the opposite of forgiveness?
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Q: Did you ask for forgiveness? A: I did, but she was so unforgiving.
- Forgiveness is soothing; meanness is destructive.
What about unforgivingness?
Yes, it is the noun form of unforgiving and can function as the opposite of forgiveness, but it is not popular and not really explained in dictionaries that entered it as a word.
So, forgive me for revealing that unforgiveness is not an English word. I hope my exposition is forgivable.