If there are any, what are the differences in meaning between the statements ''I am a materialist person'' and ''I am a materialistic person'' ?

*Context: In a conversation on philosophical materialism that concerns matter and the universe I want to describe my viewpoint, which leans towards materialism due to its properties. However my viewpoint also has some properties which I am not sure can be considered materialist.

Due to being unsure whether my entire viewpoint fits with straightforward materialist understanding I want to avoid describing myself as ''I am a materialist person'', instead I am using the phrase ''I am a materialistic person''. Is using the word ''materialistic'' in such context correct?

So far I've received feedback that I must avoid using ''materialistic'' because it can be misunderstood with excessive material possession in pejorative way. However context is a scientific and philosophical discussion about universe and it is clear for everyone in the conversation what materialism means. The word ''materialistic'' is also used in such context in philosophical/ontological area: enter link description here There are many Google hits as such ''materialistic scientist'', ''materialistic scholar'' etc. as well.

Common description of suffix ''-ic'' is ''of or pertaining to or relatedeness''. Description below also indicates ''having some characteristics of opposed to simple attributive use'' :enter link description here For example the word ''metallic'' doesn't have to imply substance (objects made of metal). Any sort of resemblance to metal is enough to describe something as ''metallic'' as such ''metallic vase'' (no metal substance) or metallic voice: enter link description here

Therefore, in the context above

Does ''materialistic'' strictly mean ''materialist''? Why, why not?

Can I add suffix ''-ic'' to the word ''materialist'' when there is any resemblance to ''materialist'' such as materialist-like viewpoint?


  • 1
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 12:30
  • The words seem to be synonymous to an appreciable degree. However, the use of 'materialist/ic' to refer to the 'possession-orientated' situation is so common that I agree that I'd certainly use a freely available alternative, which will at least make some people think about an alternative sense, provided that it itself doesn't convey a wrong impression. But as to which (if either) is correct to use in 'a scientific and philosophical discussion about ...', that should be asked on say PhilosophySE in their terminology section. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:13
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is better asked on say PhilosophySE. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:15
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    EdwinAshworth I don't think my question is related with philosophical discussion. I'm just asking function and meaning of -ic suffix. I provided context to demonstrate my question in detail. My aim is not to start a philosophical discussion.
    – Frank
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


Materialistic is an adjective derived from the noun


1660s and after in various philosophical and theological senses, on model of French matérialiste, from material (n.) + -ist


"pertaining to, of the nature of, or characterized by materialism" in any sense, 1829, from materialist + -ic.


The suffix -like is generally used with nouns:

changes a noun into an adjective meaning 'typical of or similar to':

  • childlike trust
  • a cabbage-like vegetable

(Cambridge Dictionary)

so: materialist-like.

  • user240918 do you think it is also OK to use materialistic instead of materalist-like? Based on dictionary definition you've provided it must pertain to ''materialist'' in any sense as in the case of metal vs metallic. Also materialist appears as adjective as well:dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/materialist
    – Frank
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 12:59
  • According to ODO, 'materialist' is used both as a noun and as an adjective.: ... materialist ADJECTIVE 1Considering material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values. ‘a greedy materialist population’ ‘his anger at social injustice and materialist greed’ 2Philosophy Relating to the theory that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications. ‘atheistic materialist philosophy’), 'materialist' is used both as a noun and as an adjective. Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 13:02
  • @ user240918 I think I misinterpreted the phrase ''in any case''. I think it denotes resemblance with all aspects on the contrary to ''metallic'' example. However in view of your link that explains ''-istic'' suffixes I belive I still can use ''materialistic''.
    – Frank
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 16:21

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