I'm looking for a word which I've seen used most often when describing works of music, art or literature. I thought the word was "diminutive" but that appears to be incorrect.

I am not looking for a word which describes something based on a prototype (which has already been asked here).

Instead, I am looking for the word which describes, somewhat pejoratively, something which borrows elements from a predecessor or predecessors that were not intended to be prototypes.

Here's an example sentence:

The new album from the Ga Ga Dolls is nice to listen to, but terribly _______, since it borrows so many themes from the Blackberries album.

Note: the word I'm looking for is not "plagiarism".


5 Answers 5


derivative as an adjective might work in some circumstances

  • 2
    I think this must be the word the OP is thinking of. Jan 26 at 10:51
  • 2
    That's it—I knew it started with a 'd'. Thanks! Jan 26 at 11:29
  • 2
    As soon as you said "it's not diminutive" I knew you were trying to think of "derivative".
    – Marthaª
    Jan 26 at 21:05
  • 3
    How apt; Newton invented derivatives and said, If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
    – Mazura
    Jan 27 at 1:57
  • This has two orthographical errors. Please use standard written English: you need to start written English sentences with a capital letter and place a full stop (a period) at the end. It also could use more substantive text around it explaining why you think this word would work here.
    – tchrist
    Jan 29 at 17:25

You may be thinking of imitative which means:

copying or reproducing the features of an original, esp in an inferior manner

OxfordL defines it as:

following a model or example without any attempt at originality.

  • I found the film pretentious and imitative.


  1. To strive to equal or excel, especially through imitation: an older pupil whose accomplishments and style I emulated.



Pastiche is often used in literature or visual arts.

  • This one is also quite apt for my purposes. Thank you. Jan 28 at 4:45

Another is unoriginal. (Merriam-Webster:)

Lacking originality; not original.

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