Demonym

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A demonym or gentilic is a word used for people or the inhabitants of a place. The name of a people's language is usually the same as this word, for example, the "English" (language or people). Some places may not have a word for the people that live there.

Suffix demonyms[change | edit source]

The English language has many ways to create demonyms. The most common is to add a suffix to the end of the location's name. These may use Latin, Semitic or Germanic suffixes, such as:

Irregular forms[change | edit source]

In many cases, both the location's name and the demonym are created by using a suffix, for example England and English and Englishman. This is not always true, for example, FranceFrench.

In a few cases, the name of the country is not at all related to the name of the people (NetherlandsDutch). This is usually because the two words come from different languages.

Demonyms can be nouns or adjectives. In many cases the noun and adjective forms are the same (Canadian/Canadian); in other cases they are different (Spaniard/Spanish).

In the case of Canadian provinces and territories and U.S. states, demonyms are not usually used as adjectives.

Cultural problems[change | edit source]

Some peoples, mainly cultures that were taken over by European colonists, have no demonym. They may also have a demonym that is the same as the name of their nation. Examples include Iroquois, Aztec, Māori, and Czech. Often, the native languages of these people have forms that did not get used in English. In Czech, for example, the language is Čeština, the nation is Česko or Česká republika, and the people are Češi.

The demonym for people of the United States of America has a similar problem. "American" refers to both the United States and to the two American continents. United Statian is not used in English, but it exists in Spanish (estadounidense), French (étatsunien(ne)), Portuguese (estado-unidense or estadunidense), Italian (statunitense), and also in Interlingua (statounitese). US American (for the noun) and US-American can be used, and is a common demonym in German (US-Amerikaner).

Similarly there is no demonym for the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.