In English most verbs have a form that describes the person that performs the action. Some examples would be Runner, Climber, or Jumper. What are these kinds of words called? Are the called the same thing as words like Guitarist, Pianist, or Scriptorian?

2 Answers 2


Runner, climber, jumper are agent nouns, and -er is an agent noun suffix used to create nouns from verbs.

Whether guitarist or pianist are agent nouns, depends on your definition. At any rate, in these cases the suffix -ist creates nouns from other nouns, not from verbs, so morphologically there is no action it is the agent of. In addition, in the case of pianist, the noun wasn't even formed in English, but was borrowed as a whole from French. So in English, there is no suffix in it at all. The whole word is the root.

Scriptorian is not a noun I have heard before or was able to find in any dictionary.

  • Scriptorian is an adjective, not a noun — at least per the OED. They equate it to scriptory, which can be both an adjective and rarely a noun. As an adjective, scriptory means about writing; as a noun, it is the same as the unnaturalized scriptorium. It does not mean a writer.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 16:43
  • scriptorium (n.) "writing room," 1774, from Late Latin scriptorium "place for writing," noun use of neuter of Latin scriptorius "pertaining to writing," from Latin scriptus, past participle of scribere "to write" (see script (n.)).
    – user66974
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 16:52
  • 2
    Yes, I know what a scriptorium is. I know what script is. I even understand what scriptorian is supposed to mean as an adjective, or as a noun for that matter. What I am saying is that it "is not a noun I have heard before or was able to find in any dictionary".
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 17:13

'Actor' appears to be close to one who does a certain action. In fact I am searching for an appropriate word that describes this. My dad suggested 'stalwart'.

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