What are the terms that can be used to differentiate between these two nouns?

New Yorker versus one who lives in New York

A "New Yorker" would be someone who self-identifies as a practitioner of "New York" culture and values, as opposed to someone who only lives there geographically.

In other words, how would you say something along the lines of "It was telling that someone was described using the XYZ 'New Yorker,' rather than the ABC 'someone who lives in New York'?

  • By the way, doer can be defined as 'someone who does something' so that there's no versus as such. (I do understand the underlying question, though. I've upvoted.)
    – Kris
    Jul 20, 2014 at 5:23
  • 1
    Those three examples are fundamentally different structures that have little in common. The only thing common to them is that you can rephrase their meaning with a verbal phrase, which can be done with just about any noun (that's what dictionaries normally do). New Yorker is a demonym (also gentilic); diabetic is a nominalised adjective; and author is an agent noun (though not your standard, regular one because it was borrowed as an agent noun, rather than derived, and has no corresponding verb *auth). The only term I can think of that covers all three is noun. Jul 20, 2014 at 11:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Re "has no corresponding verb," see: "agent noun from auctus, past participle of augere "to increase" (see augment ). Meaning "one who sets forth written statements" is from late 14c. " etymonline.com/index.php?term=author
    – Kris
    Jul 21, 2014 at 5:16
  • @Kris Augere is Latin, not English. Like I said, author was borrowed as an agent noun, derived as such in a different language, and has no corresponding verb *auth (in English, that is). It was not derived from the verb in English itself, which makes it an atypical, non-transparent agent noun. Jul 21, 2014 at 6:50
  • @Janus I believe you have an answer to this question (as currently written) in your earlier comment
    – Shokhet
    Jul 24, 2014 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


There's significant difference from a semantic point of view, more than structural/ grammatical.

Noun phrases with a verb or any other POS component are more explicit and 'simpler:'

lives in New York

Verb qualifies noun creating a new noun, 'New Yorker.'

On the other hand, nouns/ noun-phrases without this are implicit and 'enriched.'


Requires the reader to extract additional semantic content 'person' and 'having/ suffering from/ diagnosed with' that is not expressly stated.

There are no specific terms to describe these forms that I know of. However, the enriched form is used for brevity while the plainer alternative is better for improved readability.

In some cases, the semantics can be more taxing, especially in instances where the real noun is to be generated by a semantic synthesis, as in:

Author vs writes books

Neither 'writes' nor 'books' is the entity being referred. A Bahuvrīhi (बहुव्रीहि, Sk.) compound noun "that refers to a thing which is itself not part of the compound" WP

  • None of the nouns given here are bahuvrīhi. A bahuvrīhi is an exocentric compound noun that means specifically “one who has X1 X2/X2s” (where X1 is the first member of the compound and X2 is the second member). New Yorker, diabetic, and author are not compounds at all, and something like book-writer for the last example is a synthetic compound, not a bahuvrīhi. Jul 21, 2014 at 13:15
  • Kris -- I'm going to change my question (as per meta.english.stackexchange.com/q/5035/74434), limit it to just NY (and may or may not ask other questions for the other examples).....you may want to be prepared to edit your answer to fit.
    – Shokhet
    Jul 24, 2014 at 3:24
  • Kris -- question has been changed (though unfortunately not yet re-opened) .... just to let you know!
    – Shokhet
    Jul 27, 2014 at 4:23

I would say that "a citizen of or living in a place" is a demonym, and "having the culture of a place" is an ethnic demonym.

He is French. (a French citizen) - demonym

He is French. (an Australian citizen of French ancestry) - ethnic demonym

Both from Wikipedia's article on demonyms.

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