A demonym is

a noun used to denote the natives or inhabitants of a particular country, state, city, etc.

For example, Europeans are from Europe; the word "Europeans" is the demonym of "Europe". What, if any, is the religious counterpart to this?

I'm looking for a word that describes the subset of words that includes "Christian(s)", "Muslim(s)", "Buddhist(s)", etc. Or, put another way, a word that completes the sentence "the word 'Muslim' is the ____ of the word 'Islam'"

edit: a similar question has been asked here. The options in the accepted answer seem to indicate a misunderstanding of the question, and the most appropriate answer – that was later edited in – cites a source that claims 'demonym' can be used for any word denoting the names for people of any type of community affiliation. I have been unable to find any source other than this that makes a claim that a demonym is anything but a word denoting the natives/inhabitants of a place, so I don't accept the accepted answer given to that question as the answer to this question


5 Answers 5


From Wikipedia:

  • ecclesiastonym: a name referring to members of a religious entity, e.g. Methodist, Protestant, Rastafarian, Wiccan (from Greek ekklisiastís 'churchgoer')
  • 2
    Two problems: (a) this would seem to refer only to Christian denominations (the reasonably common term 'ecclesiastical' is restricted to Church matters); (b) the only example on the internet seems to be the Wikipedia entry. Protologisms (contrast neologisms, which have reasonable currency) are off-topic on a site devoted to English usage, 499. But an interesting article. Commented Mar 7 at 19:11


Some scholars have used [Religionym or confessionym] as designations for a particular onomastic class that encompasses the proper names of religions and cults (like: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam), while others have used the same terms (one or the other) as names for a particular anthroponymic class, encompassing the proper names that designate religious adherents (like: Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims). In scholarly literature, both terms (religionym and confessionym) are sometimes also used in much broader meaning, as designations for all terms that are semantically related to religious (confessional) terminology.

from Wikipedia: Religionym and confessionym (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religionym_and_confessionym)


Is ethnonym acceptible?

"is a name applied to a given ethnic group."




Being as a religious grouping is a cultural grouping, ethnonym looks appropriate, indeed given your 'muslim' example it does appear to be correct.

'Ethnonym' can also apparently be used to describe lower order terminology.

  • The reference to lower order terminology was a result of seeing specific terminology for gendered nouns being referred to as ethnonyms, though in a long tract that failed to relocate.
    – Giu Piete
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:24

Since demonym derives from "demos," and refers to a village, or more in more general modern usage, a place (nation, continent, etc.) perhaps "theonym" might be an appropriate term to coin (if, in fact, this has not already been coined...). It's not exact, since "Theos" translates to "God," and so doesn't literally indicate a categorization by religion, but by deity I suppose, I think it appropriately gets the point across.


Question: the word 'Muslim' is the ____ of the word 'Islam'"

A Muslim is the believer in Islam. A Christian is the believer in Christianity. A Buddhist is the believer in Bouddhism.

"The word 'Muslim' is the religionist of the word 'Islam'" Edwin Ashworth.

The word religionist can go for the others too.

They are all believers or religionists.

Merriam Webster

noun Definition of religionist as in believer one who professes a religious faith makes the case that one need not be a religionist to have basic moral values

  • "The word 'Muslim' is the religionist of the word 'Islam'". Commented Mar 8 at 0:16

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