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"Chiropractic" sounds like an adjective because of the "ic", but the title "Doctor of Chiropractic" seems like a noun.

Am I just confused?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The OED lists it as both an adjective and a noun. Other dictionaries, such as Wiktionary, list it as only a noun. Merriam-Webster Online, curiously enough, defines a noun, and lists a possible adjectival form as a related word, but doesn't seem to mention it again. Based on this, I would say it's definitely a noun.

But is it also an adjective, as the OED supposes?

The COCA has the various following usages:

objected to chiropractic medicine because
have received chiropractic treatment
chiropractic consultation

You wouldn't say "podiatry medicine", "podiatry treatment", or "podiatry consultation",. Instead, the proper way is to use the adjectival form: "podiatric medicine", "podiatric treatment", "podiatric consultation".

Thus, chiropractic is both a noun and an adjective.

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I'm not so sure. Actually, "podiatry consultation" gets about as many Google hits as "podiatric consultation". Also note that "acupuncture treatment" is much more common than "acupunctural treatment". –  Jason Orendorff Mar 29 '11 at 18:07
    
It's also weird that "more chiropractic than" and "fairly chiropractic" get hits where the writer uses quotes (more "chiropractic" than), apparently indicating they know it's not the way the word is normally used. –  Jason Orendorff Mar 29 '11 at 18:11
    
@JasonOrendorf: The semi-interchangeable use of adjectives and noun-adjectives always fascinates me. How do you think people choose between the two? Somehow I feel that nouns sound more modern, more informal—not not always, and not with every word. –  Cerberus May 21 '12 at 15:03

I agree that "chiropractory" is nonsense. "Chiropractic" is unquestionably a noun, in wide usage.

And consider this: "Chiropractic" as a noun derives from the simple elision of "medicine" from the original phrase "chiropractic medicine," a still-valid phrase in which the original parts of speech are clear. Over time, the abbreviated usage came into being, presumably because it was just easier and faster to say.

Taking it further: "Allopathic medicine" and "osteopathic medicine" are two other main branches of medical practice. These names refer to M.D.'s and D.O.'s. Most people would recognize these as the degrees that physicians usually have. In the U.S., one's primary doctor and most specialists are M.D.'s, but a huge percentage are D.O.'s, especially in the Midwest. They are legally, ethically, and functionally equivalent medical degrees, although the historical philosophic underpinnings of these two disciplines differ. And although the terms "allopathic medicine" and "osteopathic medicine" are not very commonly used, the proper derived form of each is "allopathy" and "osteopathy."

Similarly, "chiropathy" (certainly not "chiropractory") would qualify as the proper noun form of "chiropractic medicine," but for reasons unclear to me, it is not much in use. It has been used, however, and can still be found in recent usage.

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Chiropracty appears to an acceptable alternative and, according to Google, sees some use. –  coleopterist Mar 15 '13 at 5:00

Chiropractic just doesn't work for me as a noun (it sounds like an adjective) and since no one else really knows, I'm just going to use chiropractory as the noun!

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5  
-1 for utter nonsense. Chiropractic is used as a noun, and listed as such in dictionaries. Chiropractory is neither. Oh, and may I ask you if you also refer to medics as medories, to alcoholics as alcoholories, to classics as classories, to music as musory, and to logic as logory? –  RegDwigнt May 21 '12 at 14:50
1  
One does wonder why chiropraxis (or chiropractice) never caught on...Then we've got logic as a noun and logical as the adjective when you'd think that logos (noun) and logic (adjective) would be the more appropriate pair...and finally politicS and economicS when a language like French uses the singular 'la politique/economique'...go figure. –  Merk Oct 18 '12 at 5:03
    
@RegDwighт You might be interested in my answer to this question, q.v. –  John M. Landsberg Mar 15 '13 at 4:44

protected by RegDwigнt May 21 '12 at 14:56

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