I may not be using the right terms for what I'm asking, but for example, "Cartesian" is an adjective derived from Descartes' name, and "Dickensian" is an adjective derived from Charles Dickens' name, both of which are used to describe things that are related to the particular person they refer to. Are there rules (even loose rules) for how such adjectives are created, or is it more of an art than a science? Is there a special name for such adjectives (like a "demonym" is a noun for people from a particular place)?

Thank you in advance for any help. Please let me know if you'd like any clarification of what I'm asking!


And if there aren't rules for this, what are the most common suffixes used, and what are examples of such suffixes?

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, choster, Glorfindel, Phil Sweet, tchrist Apr 23 '17 at 17:02

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I think that it's a case of "if it works, use it". It obviously doesn't work with some names, e.g. Kafka: "Kafkaian" doesn't sound right (and I wouldn't know how to make it sound right), so we use "Kafkaesque" instead.

  • Thank you for your response! Perhaps, but it seems like there must be some rules for such neologisms, maybe based off of how the name ends? – SoManyQuestions Dec 31 '16 at 3:14
  • Actually, Kafkaian appears to be a dictionary word (although I wouldn't trust Wiktionary), so maybe I'm wrong. – Mick Dec 31 '16 at 3:16
  • 1
    If there are rules, I suspect that they have been cobbled together. Anyway, we need someone with more expertise. – Mick Dec 31 '16 at 3:17
  • The trouble with “if it works, use it” is that you only know if it works by being repeatedly exposed to it. Even though I know it's the more common form, Kafkaesque is still a monstrosity of a word to me; I find Kafkaian far preferable (though I'd never seen it before). But if you don't already know that it's Dickensian, you might just as well try any of the numerous other possibilities, like Dickensic, Dickensan, Dickensious, etc. They all ‘work’ inasmuch as any native speaker would be likely to understand what is meant. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 31 '16 at 18:38
  • Thanks, Janus. That's very helpful input with an interesting point. It also helps to see some other examples of common suffixes that could be used for Dickens. I wish I could find a similar, fuller list of common suffixes for this sort of thing. – SoManyQuestions Jan 1 '17 at 4:27

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