On What Defines a People


“What defines a people is not race, not tradition, not geography, but the free choice of a group of human beings to live together as fellow citizens.”

– Thomas G. West

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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