Is there a word/term that relates to those? Usage examples of the words in the title:

  • Turkish cuisine
  • American passport
  • Canadian insignia
  • Mexican beadwork
  • Polish calculator

Use of this mystery word/term in a sentence:

Is it necessary to include ____s, like American and Canadian, in aeroplane model names if they're all manufactured similarly?



6 Answers 6


You've used the single-word-request tag, but no such single word may exist. Demonyms are usually nouns, but most have corresponding adjectival forms. You might therefore call these words "adjectives derived from demonyms" (or "from country names" or "from geographical regions").

  • 2
    Can it be applied to non-people nouns such as Polish aeroplanes, American textbooks, etc.? Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 16:28
  • 2
    The words "Polish" and "American" are the demonyms (or demonym-based adjectives, if you prefer), and they can modify mounds. If you were talking about Antarctic penguins, then I would consider "Antarctic" to be a geographic identifier, not a demonym. But I understood your question to refer to the nationality, not the geographic region. Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 16:35
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    Hmm... As far as I know (and as far as the cited source says,) a demonym only refers to the people of the place in question, not other things that might be of or from there. The linked definition from Webster's for 'demonym' says, "a word (such as Nevadan or Sooner) used to denote a person who inhabits or is native to a particular place." FWIW, that's always how I've personally understood the word, too.
    – reirab
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 16:02
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    The 'demo' does refer to people (think 'demography', 'democracy'). It's literally: 'the name of the people'. Using demonyms renders words like 'people' redundant. Your example would be more correct if it was just '(The) Poles are proud'. Demonyms allow you to say for instance, 'the Swiss' and it's known you are not referring to chocolate or army knives, but the population. I'd have less problem on ELL, but this answer is incorrect. @ermanen has got it.
    – mcalex
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 3:52
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    Wikipedia? OK. Sentence 1: "A demonym ... is a word that identifies a group of people ... in relation to a particular place." It says nothing about identifying where things come from. Their first example should be '... may be called British, a Briton or ...' given that it goes on to state: 'Often, demonyms are the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. Egyptian, Japanese, or Greek' ie, demonyms are not adjectives. Google dict (from oxford languages): 'a noun used to denote...', Cambridge: 'a word that is a name', dictionary.com: 'the name used...' Names are nouns.
    – mcalex
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 4:46

They are country adjectives in the examples 'Turkish cuisine', 'American passport', 'Canadian insignia' etc. as the adjectives refer to the country, not people. A country adjective differs from a demonym which only denotes a person (or people) who is an inhabitant of or native to a particular place. Demonyms are not only formed from country names but also city names or any other relevant geographical location. (E.g. Halifax -> Haligonian, Hispania -> Hispanic).

The singular form of demonyms can be the same as the country adjective but they can differ also. For example:

  • America --> American (the country adjective and the singular demonym are the same)

  • Iceland --> Icelandic (country adjective)
    Iceland --> Icelander (demonym)

A country adjective describes something as being from that country, for example, "Italian cuisine" is "cuisine of Italy". A country demonym denotes the people or the inhabitants of or from there, for example, "Germans" are people of or from Germany. Note: Demonyms are given in plural forms. Singular forms simply remove the final s or, in the case of -ese endings, are the same as the plural forms. - Wikipedia

  • The US has Hoosiers, Sooners and Yoopers, eh? The "eh" is part of the last example. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 3:33
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    This looks like a very good answer. I'm just wondering if usage tends to be far broader, not sticking to the neat definitions given in Wikipedia. Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:42
  • There are usages of the term country adjective in Google Books and other various sources. It is also a self-explanatory term to distinguish from demonyms. Place-name adjective is another term mentioned, where there can be cases it is not a country. Demonyms are sometimes used for animal breeds too; for cat, dog, horse breeds especially.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 9:55

These are demonymic adjectives, sometimes also called gentilic adjectives (there isn't much difference between the two terms other than that the first is Greek, and the second Latin).

The corresponding nouns are demonyms.

In many cases the demonym is derived from the name of a country in one of a handful of ways (e.g. -ian in Canadian, -ic in Icelandic, -ese in Chinese, etc). In some others the country name is derived from the noun for a person of that ethnicity/nationality instead (e.g. Finland < Finn, Germany < German, Czechia < Czech). In the former case the noun for a person of that ethnicity/nationality is usually identical to the adjective (although in some cases using it is perceived as offensive), whereas in the latter case it is used to derive the adjective (e.g. Finnish < Finn, English < England, Polish < Pole).

In some cases there are also two competing adjectives (which may potentially also be used as nouns), with one derived from the demonym and one from the country name (e.g. Slovene vs Slovenian, Slovak vs Slovakian, Serb vs Serbian). In these cases the former usually describes ethnic identity, whilst the latter usually describes nationality or residence (e.g. a Slovenian Serb is an ethnic Serb with Slovenian nationality or residence).


Related terms are:

  • nationality — national origin or identity.
  • ethnicity — ethnic identity (re. ancestry, culture, history, language, religion, and/or nation).

Another term for this is ethnonym, “The name of an ethnic group.”

A term used by the group to refer to itself is an endonym, and one used only by outsiders is an exonym. For example, English-speakers use the exonym Dutch for the people of the Netherlands, while Germans use the endonym Deutsch for themselves.

  • "Canadian" is not an ethnic group, it's a nationality. (The same is probably true for other examples OP gave, but I'm Canadian so that's what I'm focusing on, plus Canada is officially multicultural.)
    – wjandrea
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 2:48
  • @wjandrea The word nationality or nation is also often used for an ethnic group rather than a country. So, this ambiguity is hard to get rid of, in English.
    – Davislor
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 4:08

How about going another way about it?

I mean, is it necessary to include ORIGIN ... would work. Also a name for places is a TOPOnym. But origin encompasses more - meaning place of origin, country, but also in a more general sense producer, firm responsible for the article etc. Or you can go off the deep end and say is it necessary to add QUALIFIERS, such as... - here qualifier denotes a large class of specific descriptors, and the proper meaning is clarified by the provided examples : Turkish etc.

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 10:57
  • The previous answer gives an alternative solution. Nothing "unclear" about it at all. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 11:02

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