This has been plaguing me for the last hour or so - is there a word for this type of word, specifically an adjective, whose definition involves it pertaining to another?

To give you an example: sexual, relating or pertaining to sex. Or familial, relating to or occurring within a family.


2 Answers 2


I would suggest the word genitive. It is most frequently used when describing a "grammatical case expressing possession, measurement, or source" (American Heritage Dictionary) in other languages such as Latin or Greek, where the noun in the genitive case is what the sentence subject is ''of or related to''. This usage seems to have come about by an incorrect mixing of the Latin genitivus for birth with the Greek genike for category or kind (Online Etymological Dictionary). Regardless of its origin, I think such adjective forms as you describe could reasonably be called genitive, although it may be a novel usage when applied to English grammatical forms.


"Linguistic", as an adjective, means of or relating to language, but that does include "words". Possibly "written/spoken linguistic" would can be used as a more general adjective phrase.

Another alternative might be "morphemic", an adjective meaning of or relating to morphemes, which are the basic building blocks of words. All words consist of single or multiple morphemes.



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