Demonym

A demonym (/ˈdɛmənɪm/; from Ancient Greek δῆμος (dêmos) 'people, tribe', and ὄνυμα (ónuma) 'name') or gentilic (from Latin gentilis 'of a clan, or gens')[1] is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place.[2] Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (hamlet, village, town, city, region, province, state, country, continent, planet, and beyond).[3] Demonyms are used to designate all people (the general population) of a particular place, regardless of ethnic, linguistic, religious or other cultural differences that may exist within the population of that place. Examples of demonyms include Cochabambino, for someone from the city of Cochabamba; French for a person from France; and Swahili, for a person of the Swahili coast.

As a sub-field of anthroponymy, the study of demonyms is called demonymy or demonymics.

Since they are referring to territorially defined groups of people, demonyms are semantically different from ethnonyms (names of ethnic groups). In the English language, there are many polysemic words that have several meanings (including demonymic and ethnonymic uses), and therefore a particular use of any such word depends on the context. For example, the word Thai may be used as a demonym, designating any inhabitant of Thailand, while the same word may also be used as an ethnonym, designating members of the Thai people. Conversely, some groups of people may be associated with multiple demonyms. For example, a native of the United Kingdom may be called a British person, a Briton or, informally, a Brit.

Some demonyms may have several meanings. For example, the demonym Macedonians may refer to the population of North Macedonia, or more generally to the entire population of the region of Macedonia, a significant portion of which is in Greece. In some languages, a demonym may be borrowed from another language as a nickname or descriptive adjective for a group of people: for example, Québécois, Québécoise (female) is commonly used in English for a native of the province or city of Quebec (though Quebecer, Quebecker are also available).

In English, demonyms are always capitalized.[4]

Often, demonyms are the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. Egyptian, Japanese, or Greek.

English commonly uses national demonyms such as Ethiopian or Guatemalan, while the usage of local demonyms such as Chicagoan, Okie or Parisian is less common. Many local demonyms are rarely used and many places, especially smaller towns and cities, lack a commonly used and accepted demonym altogether.[5][6][7] Often, in practice, the demonym for states, provinces or cities is simply the name of the place, treated as an adjective; for instance, Kennewick Man or Kentucky State Police.


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