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I am trying to develop a series of three words each of which is a factor (and should be an actor-type noun) that produces certain kinds of effects. Here are the three ideas:

  • Manifester: a factor that causes the effect to show up and be visible when it is actually there
  • Hider: a factor that causes the effect to be invisible even though it is actually there
  • Spurious: a factor that causes the effect to seem to misleadingly be there even though it actually is not there

I am fine with "manifester" and "hider" (though please feel free to suggest better words if you have any), but "spurious" does not work because it is an adjective, not a noun that represents an actor. Could you please recommend me a suitable actor-type noun that represents the idea that I call "spurious" here?

Although the factors I am referring to in my context are usually inanimate, I expect that the right word I am looking for might be suitable for a person who produces such an effect. The only thing I've thought of is "illusionist", but I don't quite like that, perhaps because it sounds a little too closely tied to a human function compared to the other two words. Alternatively, a series of three words that are all equally human (one of which would be "illusionist") might work in my context.

On a related note, is there a formal grammatical term for what I call "an actor-type noun"?

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3 Answers 3

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"Deceiver" might work, but it's hard to tell without knowing the context. A thesaurus will provide plenty of synonyms.

When you say "actor-type noun", I think that you're talking about a noun with an "agentive suffix" ("-er", "-or", "-trix", etc.).

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  • Thanks, based on your hint, it seems that the formal term for "actor-type noun" is agent noun: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_noun, which is indeed identified with an agentive suffix.
    – Tripartio
    Aug 7 at 9:52
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Hermes or Loki? My other idea was "cod," but that would only fly in the UK and generally refers to a person who perpetuates a hoax; a humbug. https://icytales.com/tricksters-mythology/ https://www.irishtimes.com/news/the-words-we-use-1.276961

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After much consideration, I could only come up with two best choices as agent noun synonyms for "spurious":

  • Simulacrum with the following definition from the Oxford English Dictionary: "2. a. Something having merely the form or appearance of a certain thing, without possessing its substance or proper qualities." This definition of a simple noun seems to match my meaning exactly, but this is a very rare word whose meaning would not be as readily evident to readers as "manifester" or "hider". So, there is a great imbalance in the familiarity of the set of three words.
  • Instead of just spurious, I can use a compound word, "spurious factor". The meaning of these two words combined is obvious and direct. The only disadvantage is that a compound noun of two words is not as elegant as a simple noun of just one word.

Considering the two options above, I settled with spurious factor as a compound noun, since clearer communication is probably more important in my context than the elegance of a single noun.

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