Trivia

Hard

A Demonym Is A Word That Identifies A Person By?

Social Class
Age
A Particular Place
Religion
The old population sign for the now abandoned town of Buford, Wyoming.
Zanygenius/Wikimedia

Answer: A Particular Place

If you’ve ever referred to yourself as an American, a Londoner, a Colombian, or any other word that identified you as hailing from a continent, country, state, city, or other region, you’ve labeled yourself with a demonym.

Not only do we use demonyms—the term is derived from the Ancient Greek words dêmos for “people, tribe” and ónuma for “name”—to refer to ourselves, but we use them to identify other cultural groups and the products, both material and immaterial, of their cultures. Americans often covet Cuban cigars. Designers might refer to a French-influenced design as Parisian.

Even fictional peoples get demonyms. Martians are from the planet Mars. Lilliputians are from the island nation of Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels. Gondorians are from, you guessed it, the fictional land of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

In fact, almost every demonym is the full or partial name of the place with a simple suffix tacked on the end—like -(a)n, -ian, -ite, -ish, -ic, or similar—so if you’ve found a real or fictional place that doesn’t have a proper demonym, you can easily take it upon yourself to create one that sounds just right.

Take Buford (a.k.a. PhinDeli Town Buford), Wyoming—a town most notable for the fact that, by the 2000s, it had dwindled to a population of one person. The sole citizen of Buford might fancy being called a Bufordite, Burfordian, or Bufordan.

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