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A demonym (/ˈdɛmənɪm/; from Ancient Greek δῆμος (dêmos) 'people, tribe', and ὄνυμα (ónuma) 'name') or gentilic (from Latin gentilis 'of a clan, or gens') is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place. Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (hamlet, village, town, city, region, province, state, country, and continent). 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; Tunisian for a person from Tunisia; 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 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.

Often, demonyms are the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. Egyptian, Japanese, or Greek. However, they are not necessarily the same, as exemplified by Spanish instead of Spaniard or British instead of Briton.

English commonly uses national demonyms such as Brazilian or Algerian, 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.


National Geographic attributes the term demonym to Merriam-Webster editor Paul Dickson in a work from 1990. The word did not appear for nouns, adjectives, and verbs derived from geographical names in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary nor in prominent style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style. It was subsequently popularized in this sense in 1997 by Dickson in his book Labels for Locals. However, in What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names (the first edition of Labels for Locals) Dickson attributed the term to George H. Scheetz, in his Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon (1988), which is apparently where the term first appears. The term may have been fashioned after demonymic, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the name of an Athenian citizen according to the deme to which the citizen belongs, with its first use traced to 1893.


Several linguistic elements are used to create demonyms in the English language. The most common is to add a suffix to the end of the location name, slightly modified in some instances. These may resemble Late Latin, Semitic, Celtic, or Germanic suffixes, such as -(a)n, -ian, -anian, -nian, -in(e), -a(ñ/n)o/a, -e(ñ/n)o/a, -i(ñ/n)o/a, -ite, -(e)r, -(i)sh, -ene, -ensian, -ard, -ese, -nese, -lese, -i(e), -i(ya), -iot, -iote, -k, -asque, -(we)gian, -onian, -vian, -ois(e), or -ais(e).

Examples of various suffixes


Continents and regions


Constituent states, provinces and regions




Constituent states, provinces, regions and cities





The Tayabas Tagalog suffix -(h)in, which is mostly used by the natives in the province of Quezon, is also used for their local or native demonyms in English.

-a(ñ/n)o/a, -e(ñ/n)o/a, or -i(ñ/n)o/a

Adaptations from the standard Spanish suffix -e(ñ/n)o (sometimes using a final -a instead of -o for a female, following the standard Spanish suffix -e(ñ/n)a)

Countries and regions




Often used for European locations and Canadian locations


(Usually suffixed to a truncated form of the toponym, or place-name.)

"-ish" is usually proper only as an adjective. See note below list.

  • Åland → Ålandish people (demonym "Ålandic")
  • Bangka Island → Bangkish
  • Britain, Great Britain and United Kingdom → British people (demonym "Britons")
  • Cornwall → Cornish people (demonym "Cornishmen", "Cornishwomen")
  • Denmark → Danish people (demonym "Danes")
  • England → English people (demonym "Englishmen", "Englishwomen")
  • Finland → Finnish people (demonym "Finns", "Finnic")
  • Flanders → Flemish people (demonym "Flemings")
  • Ireland → Irish people (demonym "Irishmen", "Irishwomen")
  • Kent → Kentish people
  • Kurdistan → Kurdish people (demonym "Kurds")
  • Lombok → Lombokish people
  • Luxembourg → Luxembourgish people (demonym "Luxembourgers")
  • New South Wales → New South Welshmen
  • Niger → Nigerish (also "Nigerien")
  • Northern Ireland → Northern Irish people
  • Poland → Polish people (demonym "Poles")
  • Scotland → Scottish people (demonym "Scots", "Scotsmen", "Scotswomen")
  • Spain → Spanish people (demonym "Spaniards")
  • Sweden → Swedish people (demonym "Swedes")
  • Turkey → Turkish people (demonym "Turks")
  • Wales → Welsh people (demonym "Welshmen", "Welshwomen", "Walian")


Often used for Middle Eastern locations and European locations.


  • Kingston-upon-Hull (UK) → Hullensians
  • Leeds (UK) → Leodensians
  • Reading (UK) → Readingensians


-ese, -nese or -lese

"-ese" is usually considered proper only as an adjective, or to refer to the entirety. Thus, "a Chinese person" is used rather than "a Chinese". Often used for Italian and East Asian, from the Italian suffix -ese, which is originally from the Latin adjectival ending -ensis, designating origin from a place: thus Hispaniensis (Spanish), Danensis (Danish), etc. The use in demonyms for Francophone locations is motivated by the similar-sounding French suffix -ais(e), which is at least in part a relative (< lat. -ensis or -iscus, or rather both).

-i(e) or -i(ya)


States, provinces, counties, and cities

Mostly for Middle Eastern and South Asian locales. -i is encountered also in Latinate names for the various people that ancient Romans encountered (e.g. Allemanni, Helvetii). -i.e. is rather used for English places.

-iot or -iote

  • Chios → Chiots
  • Corfu → Corfiots
  • Cyprus → Cypriots ("Cyprian" before 1960 independence of Cyprus)
  • Phanar → Phanariotes

Used especially for Greek locations. Backformation from Cypriot, itself based in Greek -ώτης.



Often used for Italian and French locations.



Often used for British and Irish locations.


-ois(e), -ais(e)

  • Benin → Beninois(e) (also "Beninese")
  • Gabon → Gabonais(e) (also "Gabonese")
  • Niger → Nigerois(e) (also "Nigerien")
  • Seychelles → Seychellois(e)
  • Quebec → Quebecois(e) (also "Quebecker"; most common within Canada)

While derived from French, these are also official demonyms in English.

From Latin or Latinization


  • Botswana → Motswana (singular) Batswana (plural)


It is much rarer to find demonyms created with a prefix. Mostly they are from Africa and the Pacific, and are not generally known or used outside the country concerned. In much of East Africa, a person of a particular ethnic group will be denoted by a prefix. For example, a person of the Luba people would be a Muluba, the plural form Baluba, and the language, Kiluba or Tshiluba. Similar patterns with minor variations in the prefixes exist throughout on a tribal level. And Fijians who are indigenous Fijians are known as Kaiviti (Viti being the Fijian name for Fiji). On a country level:

Non-standard examples

Demonyms may also not conform to the underlying naming of a particular place, but instead arise out of historical or cultural particularities that become associated with its denizens. In the United States such demonyms frequently become associated with regional pride such as "Burqueño" and the feminine "Burqueña" of Albuquerque, or with the mascots of intercollegiate sports teams of the state university system, take for example the sooner of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Sooners.





Since names of places, regions and countries (toponyms) are morphologically often related to names of ethnic groups (ethnonyms), various ethnonyms may have similar, but not always identical, forms as terms for general population of those places, regions or countries (demonyms).



Literature and science fiction have created a wealth of gentilics that are not directly associated with a cultural group. These will typically be formed using the standard models above. Examples include Martian for hypothetical people of Mars (credited to scientist Percival Lowell), Gondorian for the people of Tolkien's fictional land of Gondor, and Atlantean for Plato's island Atlantis.

Other science fiction examples include Jovian for those of Jupiter or its moons and Venusian for those of Venus. Fictional aliens refer to the inhabitants of Earth as Earthling (from the diminutive -ling, ultimately from Old English -ing meaning "descendant"), as well as Terran, Terrene, Tellurian, Earther, Earthican, Terrestrial, and Solarian (from Sol, the sun).

Fantasy literature which involves other worlds or other lands also has a rich supply of gentilics. Examples include Lilliputians and Brobdingnagians, from the islands of Lilliput and Brobdingnag in the satire Gulliver's Travels.

In a few cases, where a linguistic background has been constructed, non-standard gentilics are formed (or the eponyms back-formed). Examples include Tolkien's Rohirrim (from Rohan), the Star Trek franchise's Klingons (with various names for their homeworld), and the Sangheili from the Halo franchise, (also known as Elites in the game by humans, as well as players) named after their homeworld of Sanghelios.

See also


  1. ^ Local usage generally reserves Hawaiian as an ethnonym referring to Native Hawaiians. Hawaii resident is the preferred local form to refer to state residents in general regardless of ethnicity.


  1. ^ "gentilic". Dictionary. Retrieved 25 July 2015. "Definition of GENTILIC". Archived from the original on 25 July 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015..
  2. ^ Roberts 2017, p. 205.
  3. ^ a b Scheetz, George H. (1988). Names' Names: A Descriptive and Pervasive Onymicon. Schütz Verlag.
  4. ^ "Gramática Inglesa. Adjetivos Gentilicios". Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  5. ^ Costa, Daniel. "demonym". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  6. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Gentilés, Demonyms: What's in a Name?". National Geographic Magazine. 177. National Geographic Society (U.S.): 170. February 1990. Archived from the original on 16 August 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  10. ^ William Safire (14 December 1997). "On Language; Gifts of Gab for 1998". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  11. ^ What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names by Paul Dickson (Facts on File, February 1990). ISBN 978-0-8160-1983-0.
  12. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  13. ^ "Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, edited by J.E. Sandy, at the Internet Archive". 1912. p. 116.
  14. ^ The Associated Press Stylebook: and Briefing on Media Law (42nd ed.). New York: Basic Books. 2007. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-465-00489-8.
  15. ^ Gilbert, Simon (18 November 2014). "What makes a Coventrian ? New online tool will tell you". Coventry Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 July 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Savannahian". Dictionary. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  17. ^ Finn, Robin (10 October 2014). "Investing in Future Quiet, Quiet Manhattan Apartments Next to Construction Sites". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Copquin explains "Queensites" for New York Times - Yale Press Log". Yale Press Log. 24 March 2008. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  19. ^ Erskine, Rosalind (18 September 2019). "Baffie to Weegie: 18 Scottish words that are now in the dictionary - and their meaning". The Scotsman.
  20. ^ "Corkonian". Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  21. ^ "North West Evening Mail". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014.
  22. ^ Waterloo, City of (30 October 2013). "Waterluvians! Don't forget about our trail renaming contest". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  23. ^ White, Juliet (16 July 2020). "18 Words You'll Only Understand If You're From New Mexico". OnlyInYourState. Archived from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  24. ^ Oklahoma, University of (20 May 2013). "What is a Sooner?". University of Oklahoma. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  25. ^ Mettler, Katie (13 January 2017). "'Hoosier' is now the official name for Indiana folk. But what does it even mean?". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 7 March 2021. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Angeleno". Dictionary. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Massachusetts: General Laws, Section 35". Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  28. ^ Prior to the Massachusetts State Legislature designating "Bay Stater" as the state's official demonym, other terms used included Massachusett, borrowed from the native Massachusett tribe, Massachusite, championed by the early English Brahmins, Massachusettsian, by analogy with other state demonyms, and Masshole, originally derogatory.
  29. ^ "Why are natives of the Isle of Wight known as 'caulkheads'?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  30. ^ "Mexicanos sinónimos, mexicanos antónimos" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  31. ^ "Slang: What Aussies call other Aussies". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.


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