I was taught in my school days that Argentine was the correct adjective for something relating to the country Argentina. However, these days, even in common speech (but moreover in formal English on new channels even), the form Argentinian used.

My question is, is Argentine in fact the correct form and Argentinian a misconstruction of the adjective done out of ignorance, is conversely the latter correct, or are both correct in fact? In the final case, I would be curious which came first and was traditionally more common in usage in the English language.

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  • Since both of these words are also used as nouns ("Argentinians live in Argentina.") I'm adding noun tags too. – hippietrail Sep 15 '13 at 4:29
  • I should also add that a third variant has been on the rise since the late 1980s, Argentinean, in both American and British English. – hippietrail Sep 15 '13 at 4:37
  • @hippietrail: May be on the rise, but it's still very rarely used, at least in the UK. I've never seen it written. – Noldorin Sep 15 '13 at 17:37
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    Yeah, fair enough. The funny thing is, I notice people using "Argentinian" everywhere, from everyday conversations, to the media, even to newspapers... which I still consider incorrect and born out of ignorance. – Noldorin Sep 16 '13 at 18:22

This isn't really an answer. It's just to back up @GEdgar's chart showing that Argentine is overwhelmingly the standard form, but that Argentinian does occur. enter image description here

I'm not going to look for "authoritative" sources. There's been debate about these two words for years, so obviously it's not clear-cut. Without checking, I expect there will be pedants who want Argentine restricted to the silver-like meaning, and historians who point out that we used to call the country itself The Argentine, so the inhabitants must be called something else.

I think what happens is most of us rarely need either word, so we don't really know or care which is "correct". As shown by this NGram, Brits (but not Americans) started using Argentinian more after WW2 ended (we imported lots of beef), and after the Falklands war (which we all talked about).

After each of those "peaks", the alternative non-standard form gradually faded as the people using it realised they were in a minority. But because educated people never use Argentinian for the silvery meaning, there's are always some people who want to keep that for the nationality. But there are never enough people thinking like that, so it fades away again.

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    I think it is an answer. +1 – Daniel Oct 17 '11 at 0:45
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    There is an issue with the nGram chart, that you cannot tell when the usage is as an adjective or noun, and if a noun whether it is being used for the country's name or one of its citizens. – Henry Oct 17 '11 at 0:54
  • @Henry: As I said, my answer is an adjunct to GEdgar's, where we know it's an adjective because it's being applied to woman. The Argentine was pre-WW2 British for the country, but you can factor that in when you look at my chart. I know some people would like the demonym (for the citizens) to be different to the adjectival form, but I am not one of them. – FumbleFingers Oct 17 '11 at 1:15
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    @FumbleFingers: Thank you for this answer. It does indeed fill in the missing bits of information I was hoping for. I suppose I wasn't too clear in my question, but I'm glad you "interpolated" in this case. I think my experience agrees with your assertions in any case, except perhaps that I hear Argentinian commonly used in spoken English (in particular by less well-educated folk but also by well-educated folk.) – Noldorin Oct 17 '11 at 3:07
  • @FumbleFingers In the 1950s we called the country The Argentine. Indeed my father, who had been in the meat trade never ceased calling it that. I am unsure of the history to this. Was it anything like that of The Ukraine ? That was a designation long encouraged by Russians but which Ukrainian nationalists rejected. – WS2 Feb 17 '15 at 18:50

In British usage, Argentina is the country, Argentines are its citizens and Argentinian is its derived adjective.

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    I can't agree that Argentinian is its derived adjective. It's an available alternative, but Argentine is the primary adjective. Meat is definitely not a form of "citizenry", but Argentine beef is much more common than Argentinian beef. – FumbleFingers Oct 16 '11 at 16:20
  • I'm afraid I'm with @fumbleFingers here. Argentine was the original form of the adjective; closer to Spanish, and I am happy to say more common in writing thanks to the NGram chart below. – Noldorin Oct 16 '11 at 22:55
  • Though I do agree Argentinian is more commonly used in spoken word (however much it annoys me). Personally, I'd rather just cut off the extra syllable at the end! – Noldorin Oct 16 '11 at 22:59

I think Argentinian is probably more common in English.

Although the official name of the country is "Argentine Republic" which is "Argentina" in spanish. Just to confuse things "The Argentine" was used in English as the name of the country at least until the middle of the 20C

  • Interesting. The official name of the country suggests Argentine was the traditional/original correct adjective. Argentinian is more common in spoken English quite possibly (not in written, as shown by the NGram), though I still want to believe this stems from ignorance. – Noldorin Oct 16 '11 at 22:58
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    The "official" name is República Argentina. There isn't some special international authority defining the official translation into English for all countries using that language. Brits sometimes use the conventional long form Argentine Republic, but both we and the Argentine people use the same conventional short form Argentina. – FumbleFingers Oct 17 '11 at 1:26

I tried this Ngram.

enter image description here

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    -1 for linking to external resources without providing any real answer. The link becoming dead renders your answer completely useless. – RiMMER Oct 16 '11 at 3:45
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    Uploaded. Better? – GEdgar Oct 16 '11 at 12:30
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    @RiMMERΨ Seems a bit overly hostile.. – user13141 Oct 16 '11 at 12:35
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    @GEdgar: great to see the NGram, but it really needs some more commentary + context to make an answer to the question. – PLL Oct 16 '11 at 13:41
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    I think the NGram makes the point clearly enough without any further commentary. But if you want the longer version, check with women rather than woman, and compare US/UK usage. Because of the Falklands, we Brits are more conscious of the issue anyway, and we almost always say Argentine women. – FumbleFingers Oct 16 '11 at 16:14

I would say: Argentina: the country. Argentine: Adjetive for things like argentine music, argentine wine,argentine food, etc. Argentinean or Argentinian: Demonym for people, i.e. I am argentinean, argentinean are friendly people, Nationality: Argentinean. This means people "from" the country Argentina are argentinean.

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    Whichever words you use, they should all begin with a capital A in written English. – tunny Nov 5 '14 at 10:17

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