The Grammar of Demonyms


Demonyms, previously gentilics, are used to describe the inhabitants of a particular country or place. In English, they come in many forms; some bear a close relation to a country’s name (e.g. Germany = German), others appear completely irregular (Isle of Man = Manx). To make matters even more confusing, some countries even have multiple demonyms.

  • -(a)n Australia = Australian
  • -anian Guam = Guamanian
  • -ard Spain = Spaniard (archaic)
  • -asque Basque Country = Basque
  • -be Burkina Faso = Burkinabe
  • -ene Greece = Hellene (archaic)
  • -ensian Micronesia = Micronesian
  • -ese Japan = Japanese
  • -gian Belgium = Belgian
  • -i(e) Bangladesh = Bangladeshi
  • -ian Hungary = Hungarian
  • -ic Iceland = Icelandic
  • -ien Niger = Nigerien
  • -in(e) Montenegro = Montenegrin
  • -iot(e) Cyprus = Cypriot
  • -ish England = English
  • -lese Togo = Togolese
  • -nese San Marino = Sammarinese
  • -nian Panama = Panamanian
  • -onian Tobago = Tobagonian (Trinidad and Tobago = Trinidadians)
  • -(en)(in)o Philippines = Philippino
  • -(e)r Luxembourg = Luxembourger
  • -vian Peru = Peruvian
  • Irregulars Netherlands = Dutch
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7 thoughts on “The Grammar of Demonyms

  1. And what would one call a Scotch-Irish, English, French, Bohemian, German (me)?

    A mutt.

  2. Originally, Okie.

    My German Grandfather and Bohemian Grandmother came from Pennsylvania in a covered wagon with their 9 children. My Scotch-Irish-English-French Grandfather ran away from home in Louisiana when he was 13, went to Texas and became a Texas Ranger, after which he took part in the Great Oklahoma Land Run.

  3. My German Grandfather and Bohemian Grandmother came from Pennsylvania in a covered wagon with their 9 children.

    Let me retrace and retract —
    It was my German GREAT-grandfather that came to Oklahoma from Pennsylvania in a covered wagon, with his Bohemian wife and two sons, not my grandfather. Interestingly, he looked exactly like me. At some point, his wife died; he raised the older boy (my grandfather), while his wife’s Bohemian family raised the younger – my Great-Uncle always spoke with a thick, Czechoslovakian accent.

    My Great-Grandfather remarried to a widow with a daughter – his son and her daughter grew up to marry and become my maternal grandparents, and it was they who had the nine children. She was the first lady postman in the area, delivering rural mail on horseback, while at the same time, the Postmaster in the little town in which I would eventually grow up, was in fact a PostMISTRESS – the granddaughter of the great Texas war hero and early governor of Texas, Sam Houston (his son, Temple, had opened a law firm in the town, and once gunned down an opponent on the hamlet’s main street!)

    Needless to say, I grew up surrounded by the history of the Old West, as my ancestors had actually lived it. Fun times —

  4. I wonder, would you think it easy to live a happy and quite life in an average present-day Southern town – in Texas’ 13th congressional district for instance? (Bearing in mind that this hypothetical person happens to be your above-average liberal type.) And how about your above average conservative living in New York’s 15th congressional district? Do these people experience similar difficulties, if any?

  5. If one is NOT “your above-average liberal type,” I can say, yes, definitely —

    “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.”
    — George Bernard Shaw —

    As for being an “above average conservative living in New York’s 15th congressional district,” I will never know.

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