Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

According to Wiktionary there is a noun nuisance tax. Does this suggest nuisance can be an adjective? Is it?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

What you have there is a noun adjunct.

In grammar, a noun adjunct, or attributive noun, or noun premodifier is a noun that modifies another noun, and is optional—meaning that it can be removed without changing the grammar of the sentence; it is a noun functioning as an adjective.

share|improve this answer

Nuisance is not an adjective in the strictest sense. Nuisance tax is what is known as a noun compound, and the first word in that phrase is known by a variety of names. See this question that talks about the variety of names (one is noun adjective, interestingly).

Other common noun compound examples are space shuttle and computer programming.

share|improve this answer
    
The OED records 'nuisance' both as a noun and as an adjective. –  Barrie England Apr 29 '12 at 11:10
    
Is there any way in which "nuisance" could be used as a predicate adjective? Is there any context in which it could modify a noun other than by serving as a noun adjunct? –  supercat Feb 9 at 19:13

No it doesn't. Unfortunately, though this is a slightly unusual usage of "tax".

Normally, an X tax is a tax on X; income tax is a tax on your income, sales tax is a tax on the sale being made, window tax was a tax on the number of windows your house had, and so on. In all of these cases, X is of necessity a noun.

I hadn't come across the term nuisance tax before and Etymonline doesn't list it, but the definition you link to suggests that it derives from the tax being a nuisance itself. Despite the change in meaning, this is basically the same grammatical form as all the other taxes.

share|improve this answer

I thought nuisant was the adjective form of nuisance. ...a nuisant distraction (not all distractions have to be a nuisance). But I can't seem to find an example of this, even though I thought I had heard it before and rather liked the adjective form.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.