Denominal adjectives

In English grammar, a denominal adjectives are an adjectives formed from a noun, usually with the addition of a suffix--such as hopeless, earthen, cowardly, childish, and Reaganesque (from former U.S. president Ronald Reagan).

What are denominal adjectives?

Denominal adjectives (sometimes called denominal adjectives) are adjectives derived from nouns. For example:

  1. mathematical puzzle. (a puzzle based on mathematics)
  2. biological experiment. (an experiment in biology)
  3. wooden boat. (a boat made of wood)

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns. They commonly describe something in terms of nationality, religious affiliation, or culture. Like proper nouns, proper adjectives have their first letter capitalized. For example:

  1. I married a Russian woman.
  2. The Jewish community in NY is very large.

Adjectives of this type should be carefully distinguished from adjectives denoting nationalities (nominal adjectives). For example:

  1. Denominal Adjective: The French people are noted for their wines.
  2. Nominal Adjective: The French are noted for their wines.


  1. Denominal Adjective: The poor people are more vulnerable.
  2. Nominal Adjective: The poor are getting poorer.

Examples of denominal adjectives

  1. mathematical puzzle.
  2. biological experiment.
  3. wooden boat.
  4. I married an American woman.
  5. The Jewish community in NY is very big.
  6. Mary has a collection of expensive Russian dolls.
  7. In the winter you must wear heavy woolen clothes.
  8. The polar bear is listed as threatened.
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