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. Oct 30, 2015 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, 2015 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. Oct 30, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 19:45

2 Answers 2


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, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 19:21

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