Is there a term for the word that describes where a person is from or what nationality they are? For example, someone from America is an American, and someone from Finland is a Finn. Is there are term for the words American and Finn that denotes that they mean "someone from a particular place"? I could have sworn I stumbled upon such a word years ago, but I cannot for the life of me remember it.

1 Answer 1


The words you are looking for are gentilic or demonym. Not especially obscure, either.

  • Demonym, that is the word! Thank you. And sorry for mis-tagging it.
    – Mock26
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:00
  • @tchrist Well, Tom, "demonym" is not in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged, thus it's obscure at least for them:-). Surely perfect, though, as 'the name used for the people who live in a particular country, state, or other locality'. However, "gentilic" doesn't seem to be its synonym, as per M-W U Definitions. Mar 26, 2015 at 18:07
  • @Marius See gentilic. As for demonym, this is readily available in the OED, not to mention on next to every Wikipedia page about applicable places. It is also obvious from its Greek roots.
    – tchrist
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:16
  • @tchrist. Ah, thanks. M-W U only has "a name with gentilic value" on the noun side. At your link I see the synonym. Mar 26, 2015 at 18:28

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