An example sentence:

The word "art," and its ______ "artist," are used too liberally in our culture.

I suppose "derivative" would work there but I'm wondering if there's a more specific one.


  • 2
    The morphology is derivational. So the technical term is derived form, since it's not an inflected form and not a root. Derivation will work, but it's easier, terminologically speaking, to go from the actual word to its root or stem. – John Lawler Oct 30 '15 at 19:17
  • 1
    Ah, okay. So "artist" is a derivation of "art." Is "derivative" the wrong part of speech in this application? – dev_willis Oct 30 '15 at 19:27
  • 1
    No, it's fine, but then you get into semantic difficulties if you're not talking to linguists, because the popular meaning is pretty vacuous. BTW, the -ist suffix is an agentive nominalizer. – John Lawler Oct 30 '15 at 19:30
  • I don't have the ability to upvote your comments so instead I'll just say "Thank you!" :) – dev_willis Oct 30 '15 at 19:37
  • 1
    So, you aren't looking for the specific term, 'agent-noun'? "agent word n. Grammar a word that indicates agency or active force; esp. a word that denotes the doer of an action; = agent noun n." – JEL Oct 30 '15 at 19:45

Because you offered the term derivative, I assume that you are not looking for answers that mean "the person who produced the work of art." Instead I assume that you are looking for words the indicate the lexical relationship between them.

Certainly derivative could be the most correct choice. Try researching lexical derivation and you may find that you already have the best word.

You can also use words like associated, related, and so forth to indicate the relationship in a generic way. For example: "The word 'art,' and its related form 'artist,' are used too liberally in our culture."

The use of the word form to describe these types of related words appears to be quite frequent when discussing this topic.

Also investigate words such as cognate (typically used across languages).

  • Doesn't "and its related form, artist" sound a bit pompous? or fatuous? or both? Just saying. I mean, is "artist" really a form of art? Or something ... – Ricky Oct 30 '15 at 19:33
  • Ah, so "artist" is a cognate of "art" then. I guess what I was really wondering is whether this relationship is one that has a specific grammatical term. It may be that it does not. I think if I went with simply "related" my meaning would be the clearest to most people. Thanks! – dev_willis Oct 30 '15 at 19:35

Rule of thumb is, don't force it. If you can't think of a word, and a quick lookup in the thesaurus only muddles the matter further, rephrase (and simplify).

The words art and artist are used too cavalierly in our culture.

  • Yeah, that's true. I just thought there might be a word for this that I didn't know and then, having learned it, I wouldn't be "forcing it." If there isn't such a word then rephrasing in the manner you suggest would be a perfectly fine thing to do. – dev_willis Oct 30 '15 at 19:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.