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I'm unfamiliar with how one approaches the declension of proper nouns, especially as it pertains to presidents, e.g., Jeffersonian. I suspect it's kind of a black art. I need to do this with Coolidge and have no idea where to start. What would be an acceptable form? Coolidgean?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Coolidgean is in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, so even though it sounds really weird to me, I expect it's the most acceptable form.

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I didn't even bother to see if I had guessed right by first checking the dictionary (Shorian approach). Thanks. –  webbiedave Apr 1 '11 at 4:19
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Washingtonian Adamsonian  Jeffersonian
Madisonian    Monrovian   Jacksonian
Burenian      Harrisonian Tylerian
Polkian       Taylorian   Filmorian
Pierceian     Buchananian Lincolnian
Johnsonian    Grantonian  Hayesian
Garfieldian   Arthurian   Clevelandian
Harrisonian   McKinleyan  Rooseveltian
Howardian     Wilsonian   Hardingian
Coolidgean    Hooverian   Trumanian
Eisenhoweran (can't find a cite for this, but maybe "Ikeian"?)
Kennedian     Nixonian    Fordian
Carterian     Reaganian   Bushonian
Clintonian    Obamaian

Of the above, some do not have common adjectival forms. The "Clintonian Doctrine" was standard, but then see the "Bush Doctrine." I would suggest the same for Eisenhower. Any of these that do not seem happy in the adjectival could probably be replaced with the name plainly.

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I’m not 100% convinced by this. For many of these potuses (poti⸮), other adjectival forms are more standard: eg Reaganite and Reaganesque are both much more common than Reaganian. There are some differences in connotations between them, when multiple such forms exist. –  PLL Mar 31 '11 at 4:25
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@Raven: why would the adjectival form for Taft use his middle name? Shouldn't it be "Taftian"? –  Alex Mar 31 '11 at 4:41
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@PLL: Reaganite means "someone associated with Reagan"; Reaganesque means "acting like Reagan." So arguably, you might indeed use "Reaganian" to describe his doctrine or whatever, although I think The Raven is correct in his last paragraph that you'd usually just hear the name itself used as an adjective in that case ("the Reagan doctrine"). –  Alex Mar 31 '11 at 4:43
    
I suspect the problems cases here arise from what "sounds right", and perhaps precedence - who published first and most widely - a common issue in the evolution of a natural language. "Bushonian" doesn't roll off the tongue like "Jeffersonian." Subjective, but hey, what can you do? –  mickeyf Mar 31 '11 at 13:46
    
Right, Alex. The "proper adjective" form we're discussing would be for use with "doctrine" or similar, as opposed to meaning "in the manner of." I checked many of the above, e.g., "Bushonian," when I wasn't sure. Some, like "Eisenhower," appeared to have no forms in common use. –  The Raven Mar 31 '11 at 17:24
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