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Agent noun

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In linguistics, an agent noun (in Latin, nomen agentis) is a word that is derived from another word denoting an action, and that identifies an entity that does that action.[1] For example, driver is an agent noun formed from the verb drive.[2]

Usually, derived in the above definition has the strict sense attached to it in morphology, that is the derivation takes as an input a lexeme (an abstract unit of morphological analysis) and produces a new lexeme. However, the classification of morphemes into derivational morphemes (see word formation) and inflectional ones is not generally a straightforward theoretical question, and different authors can make different decisions as to the general theoretical principles of the classification as well as to the actual classification of morphemes presented in a grammar of some language (for example, of the agent noun-forming morpheme).

Words related to agent noun[edit]

Polish agental suffixes
-cz bieg-ać 'to run' bieg-acz 'runner'
-rz pis-ać 'to write' pis-arz 'writer'
-c kraw-ać 'to cut' kraw-iec 'tailor'
-ca daw-ać 'to give' daw-ca 'giver'
-k pis-ać 'to write' pis-ak 'marker' (pen)
skak-ać 'to jump' skocz-ek 'jumper'
chodz-ić 'to walk' chodz-ik 'walker' (walking aid)
-ciel nos-ić 'to carry' nos-i-ciel 'carrier'
-nik pracow-ać 'to work' pracow-nik 'worker'
rob-ić 'to do' 'to work'
rob-ot-a 'work'
rob-ot-nik 'worker'
praw-ić 'to orate' 'to moralize'
praw-o 'law'
praw-y 'right' 'righteous'
praw-nik 'lawyer'
-y las 'forest'
leś-nik 'forester'
leś-nicz-y 'forester'

An agentive suffix or agentive prefix is commonly used to form an agent noun from a verb. Examples:

  • English: -er, -or, -ian, -ist
  • Basque: -le (ikasle 'student' from ikasi 'learn')
  • Dutch: -er, -ende, -or, -iet, -ant, -aar
  • Finnish: -ja/-jä (puhua 'speak', puhuja 'speaker'; lyödä 'hit', lyöjä 'hitter'); -uri (borrowed from '-or'/'er', probably via German)
  • French: -(t)eur (m.); -(t)eure,[3] -(t)euse, -trice, -iste (f.)
  • Georgian: მე- ... - (me- ... -e), as in მებაღე (mebaghe 'gardener') from ბაღი (baghi 'garden'); otherwise the nominalization of the present participle (formed with many possible circumfixes) may occur.[4]
  • German: -er, -ler, -ner, -or, -ör, -ist, -it, -ite, -ant, -ent (may be compounded with the feminine ending -in)
  • Greek: -ήρ, -τήρ
  • Hungarian: no specific agentive suffix, the nominalization of present participle (suffix: -ó/-ő, according to vowel harmony) is used instead; examples: dolgozó ('worker'), szerelő ('repairman'), vezető ('leader', 'driver', 'electrical conductor')
  • Irish: -óir (broad), -eoir (slender), -aí (broad), -í (slender)
  • Khasi: prefix nong- or myn-, for example shad 'to dance', nongshad 'dancer'; tuh 'to steal', myntuh 'thief'
  • Latin: -tor (m.) / -trix (f.) / -trum (n.) / -torius, -a, -um (adj.) as in arator / aratrix / aratrum / aratorius; -sor (m.) / -strix (f.) / -strum (n.) / -sorius, -a, -um (adj.) as in assessor / assestrix / *assestrum / assessorius; see also: -ens
  • Maori: kai-
  • Persian: ـنده (-ande): from present roots; as in گوینده (gūyande; 'speaker') from گفتن، گوی- (goftan, gūy-; to speak) / ـار (-ār) : from past roots; as in خواستار (xwāstār; 'wanter') from خواستن، خواه- (xwāstan, xwāh-; 'to want'). / ـگر (-gar): from nouns; as in کارگر (kārgar; 'worker') from کار (kār; 'work').[5]
  • Polish: see table
  • Quechua: -q (pukllay 'to play', pukllaq 'player')
  • Russian: -чик or -ник (m.) / -чица or -ница (f.) as in ученик 'student'; -тель (m.) / -тельница (f.) as in учитель 'teacher'[6]
  • Spanish: -dor(a), -ero(a), -ista, -ario(a)
  • Turkish: -ci (çiçekçi 'florist' from çiçek 'flower')
  • Welsh: -wr (m.), -ores (f.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "agent noun". Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  2. ^ Panther, Klaus-Uwe; Thornburg, Linda L.; Barcelona, Antonio (2009). Metonymy and metaphor in grammar. Vol. 25. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 101. ISBN 978-90-272-2379-1.
  3. ^ Delvaux, Martine; Melançon, Benoit (2019-08-21). "Pour ou contre le mot « autrice » ?" [For or against the word "author"?]. Radio-Canada (in French). Québec. Retrieved 2024-03-20. See also wikt:fr:-eure.
  4. ^ Aronson, Howard I. (1990). Georgian: A Reading Grammar. Corrected edition. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers. pp. 119–120.
  5. ^ ""Agent noun-اسم فاعل" in Dehkhoda Dictionary". Parsi Wiki.
  6. ^ "Suffixes of Russian Nouns - Examples and Translation of Russian Suffixes". masterrussian.com. Retrieved 2017-02-15.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Maria Wojtyła-Świerzowska, Prasłowiańskie nomen agentis ("Protoslavic Nomen Agentis"), Wrocław, 1975