I'm not sure if I have the title correct, but I am trying to figure out how to determine whether to use a noun form as an adjective or a verb form as an adjective.

For example:

1) Is it an extension leg or an extending leg?

2) Is it a stabilization wing or a stabilizing wing?

Is this a case-by-case thing? Does it depend upon context? I'm hoping somebody can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

  • An extending leg can be made longer; an extension leg sounds as though it supports an extension of a table or similar. I'm not sure about the wing. – Kate Bunting Mar 5 at 17:43
  • Thanks Kate. From your answer, I realized that "extension leg" fits better with my original concept of an extension of a leg. Another description for "extending leg" might be a telescoping leg. This would be a different thing. Perhaps the second example is the better one to focus on because I am trying to figure out a general principle for using a noun (e.g., stabilization) as an adjective vs. a verb (e.g., stabilizing). I don't think the second example has the same caveat. – etisdale Mar 5 at 18:22
  • Stabilization wing would be a part that always serves the purpose of stabilizing. That is it is sole or primary function within a machine. A stabilizing wing could be ANY part serves to stabilize. It wasn't necessarily designed that way. – Karlomanio Mar 5 at 18:23

As a technical translator, I can (almost) assure you this is a case-per-case issue.

In the case of the leg, "extendable" might be the best option (see "Extensible" vs. "extendible") to mean that it can be extended. "extension leg" sounds like a leg that provides an extension for something else, like "extension cord".

In the case of the wing, in technical English "stabilizer" tends to be the most usual form: "stabilizer wing".

Note: In my opinion, the title of your question would be more accurate if it said: "Attributive nouns vs deverbal adjectives".

  • Thanks. Makes sense - and subject of post changed accordingly. – etisdale Mar 6 at 1:49

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