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Demonym Meaning
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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A demonym (/ˈdɛmənɪm/; δῆμος dẽmos "people, tribe", ὄνομα ónoma "name") is a word that identifies residents or natives of a particular place, which is derived from the name of that particular place.[1]

It is a neologism (i.e., a recently minted term); previously gentilic was recorded in English dictionaries, e.g., the Oxford English Dictionary and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary.[2][3][4]

Examples of demonyms include a Swahili for a person of the Swahili coast, the colloquial Kiwi for a person from New Zealand, and a Cochabambino for a person from the city of Cochabamba.

Demonyms do not always clearly distinguish place of origin or ethnicity from place of residence or citizenship, and many demonyms overlap with the ethnonym for the ethnically dominant group of a region. Thus a Thai may be any resident or citizen of Thailand of any ethnic group, or more narrowly a member of the Thai people.

Conversely, some groups of people may be associated with multiple demonyms. For example, a native of the United Kingdom may be called a British person, a Briton or, informally, a Brit. In some languages, when a parallel demonym does not exist, a demonym is borrowed from another language as a nickname or descriptive adjective of a group of people.[example needed]

In English, demonyms are capitalized[5] and are often the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. Egyptian, Japanese, or Greek. Significant exceptions exist; for instance the adjectival form of Spain is "Spanish", but the demonym is "Spaniard".

English commonly uses national demonyms such as "Ethiopian" or "Guatemalan" and more local demonyms such as "Chicagoan", "Wisconsinite", or "Parisian".[6][7][8] Some places, especially smaller towns and cities, lack a commonly used and accepted demonym.

Etymology[edit]

The word gentilic comes from the Latin gentilis ("of a clan, or gens") and the English suffix -ic.[9] The word demonym was derived from the Greek word meaning "populace" (δῆμος demos) with the suffix for "name" (-onym).

National Geographic attributes the term "demonym" to Merriam-Webster editor Paul Dickson in a recent work from 1990.[10] The word did not appear for nouns, adjectives, and verbs derived from geographical names in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary nor in prominent style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style. It was subsequently popularized in this sense in 1997 by Dickson in his book Labels for Locals.[11] However, in What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names (the first edition of Labels for Locals)[12] Dickson attributed the term to George H. Scheetz, in his Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon (1988),[1] which is apparently where the term first appears. The term may have been fashioned after demonymic, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the name of an Athenian citizen according to the deme to which the citizen belongs, with its first use traced to 1893.[13][14]

Suffixation[edit]

Several linguistic elements are used to create demonyms in the English language. The most common is to add a suffix to the end of the location name, slightly modified in some instances. These may resemble Late Latin, Semitic, Celtic, or Germanic suffixes, such as:

-(a)n[edit]

Continents[edit]

Countries[edit]

States and provinces[edit]

Cities[edit]

-ian[edit]

Countries[edit]

States, provinces, counties, and cities[edit]

-anian[edit]

  • Guam → Guamanian

-nian[edit]

-in(e)[edit]

-a(ñ/n)o/a, -e(ñ/n)o/a, or -i(ñ/n)o/a[edit]

as adaptations from the standard Spanish suffix -e(ñ/n)o (sometimes using a final -a instead of -o for a female, following the Spanish suffix standard -e(ñ/n)a)

Countries and regions[edit]

Cities[edit]

-ite[edit]

-(e)r[edit]

Often used for European locations and Canadian locations

-ish[edit]

(Usually suffixed to a truncated form of the toponym, or place-name.)

"-ish" is usually proper only as an adjective. See note below list.

-ene[edit]

Often used for Middle Eastern locations and European locations.

-ensian[edit]

  • Kingston-upon-Hull (UK) → Hullensian
  • Leeds (UK) → Leodensian

-ard[edit]

-ese, -lese, -vese, or -nese[edit]

"-ese" is usually considered proper only as an adjective, or to refer to the entirety.[citation needed] Thus, "a Chinese person" is used rather than "a Chinese". Often used for East Asian and Francophone locations, from the similar-sounding French suffix -ais(e), which is originally from the Latin adjectival ending -ensis, designating origin from a place: thus Hispaniensis (Spanish), Danensis (Danish), etc.

-i(e)[edit]

Mostly for Middle Eastern and South Asian locales and in Latinate names for the various people that ancient Romans encountered (e.g. Allemanni, Helvetii)

-ic[edit]

-iot(e)[edit]

  • Chios → Chiot
  • Corfu → Corfiot
  • Cyprus → Cypriot ("Cyprian" before 1960 independence of Cyprus)
  • Phanar → Phanariote

Used especially for Greek locations.

-asque[edit]

Often used for French locations.

-(we)gian[edit]

-onian[edit]

Often used for British and Irish locations.

-vian[edit]

-san[edit]

-ois(e), -ais(e)[edit]

  • Benin → Beninois(e) (also Beninese)
  • Gabon → Gabonais(e) (also Gabonese)
  • Seychelles → Seychellois(e)
  • Quebec → Quebecois(e) (also Quebecker, most common within Canada)

While derived from French, these are also official demonyms in English.

From Latin or Latinization[edit]

Prefixation[edit]

It is much rarer to find Demonyms created with a prefix. Mostly they are from Africa and the Pacific, and are not generally known or used outside the country concerned. In much of East Africa, a person of a particular ethnic group will be denoted by a prefix. For example, a person of the Luba people would be a Muluba, the plural form Baluba, and the language, Kiluba or Tshiluba. Similar patterns with minor variations in the prefixes exist throughout on a tribal level. And Fijians who are indigenous Fijians are known as Kaiviti (Viti being the Fijian name for Fiji). On a country level:

  • Botswana → Motswana (singlular), Batswana (plural)
  • Burundi → Umurundi (singular), Abarundi (plural)
  • Lesotho → Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)

In the Pacific, at least two countries use prefixation:

Cities[edit]

Non-Standard Examples[edit]

Demonyms may also not conform to the underlying naming of a particular place, but instead arise out of historical or cultural particularities that become associated with its denizens. These demonyms are usually more informal and colloquial. In the United States such informal demonyms frequently become associated with mascots of the intercollegiate sports teams of the state university system. In other countries the origins are often disputed.

Formal[edit]

Informal[edit]

Ethnic demonyms[edit]

Fiction[edit]

Literature and science fiction have created a wealth of gentilics that are not directly associated with a cultural group. These will typically be formed using the standard models above. Examples include Martian for hypothetical people of Mars (credited to scientist Percival Lowell) or Gondorian for the people of Tolkien's fictional land of Gondor.

Other science fiction examples include Jovian for those of Jupiter or its moons, and Venusian for those of Venus. Fictional aliens refer to the inhabitants of Earth as Earthling (from the diminutive -ling, ultimately from Old English -ing meaning "descendant"), as well as "Terran", "Terrene", "Tellurian", "Earther", "Earthican", "Terrestrial", and "Solarian" (from Sol, the sun).

Fantasy literature which involves other worlds or other lands also has a rich supply of gentilics. Examples include Lilliputians and Brobdingnagians, from the islands of Lilliput and Brobdingnag in the satire Gulliver's Travels.

In a few cases, where a linguistic background has been created, non-standard gentilics are formed (or the eponyms back-formed). Examples include Tolkien's Rohirrim (from Rohan) and the Star Trek world's Klingon people (with various version of homeworld name).

See also[edit]

-onym, especially ethnonym and Exonym and endonym

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b George H. Scheetz (1988). Names' Names: A Descriptive and Pervasive Onymicon. Schütz Verlag. 
  2. ^ "gentile, adj. and n.". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "gentile -- adj. of or belonging to a gens or clan; belonging to any nation but the Jews; (gram.) denoting a race or country"--Davidson, Thomas, ed. (1901) Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language. London: W. & R. Chambers; p. 382
  4. ^ "gentile -- adj. of or belonging to a gens or clan; belonging to the Gentiles; (gram.) denoting a race or country"--Macdonald, A. M., ed. (1972) Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary; new ed. Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers; p. 544
  5. ^ "Gramática Inglesa. Adjetivos Gentilicios". mansioningles.com. 
  6. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  7. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  8. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  9. ^ "Dictionary". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Gentilés, Demonyms: What's in a Name?". National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic Society (U.S.). 177: 170. February 1990. 
  11. ^ William Safire (1997-12-14). "On Language; Gifts of Gab for 1998". New York Times. 
  12. ^ What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names by Paul Dickson (Facts on File, February 1990). ISBN 978-0-8160-1983-0.
  13. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press. 
  14. ^ "Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, edited by J.E. Sandy, at the Internet Archive". p. 116. 
  15. ^ Press, AIP, Associated (2007). Stylebook and briefing on media law (42nd ed.). New York: Basic Books. p. 112. ISBN 9780465004898. 
  16. ^ "Savannahian". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-10-12. 
  17. ^ "Investing in Future, Quiet Manhattan Apartments Next to Construction Sites" https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/realestate/manhattan-apartments-next-to-construction-sites.html
  18. ^ "Copquin explains "Queensites" for New York Times - Yale Press Log". Yale Press Log. 
  19. ^ "Corkonian". merriam-webster.com. 
  20. ^ "North West Evening Mail". nwemail.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. 
  21. ^ "City of Waterloo on Twitter". 
  22. ^ "Angeleno". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  23. ^ "Massachusetts: General Laws, Section 35". malegislature.gov. 
  24. ^ Prior to the Massachusetts State Legislature designating "Bay Stater" as the state's official demonym, other terms used included Massachusett, borrowed from the native Massachusett tribe, Massachusite, championed by the early English Brahmins, Massachusettsian, by analogy with other state demonyms, and Masshole, originally derogatory.
  25. ^ "The State of Arizona - An Introduction to the Grand Canyon State". netstate.com. 
  26. ^ "Is it a slur to call someone a Jock?". BBC. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Local usage generally reserves Hawaiian as an ethnonym referring to Native Hawaiians. Hawaii resident is the preferred local form to refer to state residents in general regardless of ethnicity.[15]

External links[edit]

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