If this turns out to be duplicative, I apologize.

Is there a concise term for the use of an adjective -- without a noun -- AS a noun?

For example, instead of
"Rich people often eat lobster stuffed with Himalayan hummingbird tongue."
"The rich often eat lobster stuffed with Himalayan hummingbird tongue."

  • @Thomas François \\ Thank you for your prompt response. Jun 3, 2016 at 12:24
  • 1
    The rich is understood as rich people. The word "rich" is called a 'fused-head noun phrase', where the fusion is between the head of the NP, "people", and the modifier "rich".
    – BillJ
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:52
  • There are constraints on its use. Whereas, for instance, in most European languages saying something like "the/a (singular masculine) old" means "the/an old man", English does not allow any kind of adjective to stand for a singular noun; only classes of people (not usually objects) that are defined by the adjectives. So you can talk about the rich or the stupid, but you have to say the big ones or the blue ones if you mean all the things in a collection that are big or blue. It's a very limited construction. Jun 3, 2016 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


You can also try antonomasia.


the substitution of an epithet or title for something (usually a proer name)

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