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".

  • Probably a duplicate: How to describe a document that is a near plagiarism of another. Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 12:23
  • @EdwinAshworth Not a duplicate. The senses of the two questions are dissimilar and looking for different answers. The question you refers to even notes that “derivative”, which is the correct answer to this question, is not the word they are looking for. So, not a duplicate. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 15:20

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. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 10:51
  • 2
    That's it—I knew it started with a 'd'. Thanks! Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 11:29
  • 2
    As soon as you said "it's not diminutive" I knew you were trying to think of "derivative".
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 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
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 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
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 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. Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 4:45

Another is unoriginal. (Merriam-Webster:)

Lacking originality; not original.

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