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

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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.

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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.

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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 '14 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.

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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.

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