from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The part of speech that modifies a noun or other substantive by limiting, qualifying, or specifying and distinguished in English morphologically by one of several suffixes, such as -able, -ous, -er, and -est, or syntactically by position directly preceding a noun or nominal phrase.
  • noun Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as white in the phrase a white house.
  • adjective Adjectival.
  • adjective Law Specifying the processes by which rights are enforced, as opposed to the establishing of such rights; remedial.
  • adjective Not standing alone; derivative or dependent.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make an adjective of; form into an adjective; give the character of an adjective to.
  • Naming or forming an adjunct to a noun: as, an adjective name. Pertaining to an adjective: as, the adjective use of a noun. Added or adjected; additional.
  • noun In grammar, a word used to qualify, limit, or define a noun, or a word or phrase which has the value of a noun; a part of speech expressing quality or condition as belonging to something: thus, whiteness is the name of a quality, and is a noun; white means possessing whiteness, and so is an adjective.
  • noun A dependant or an accessory; a secondary or subsidiary part.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Added to a substantive as an attribute; of the nature of an adjunct.
  • adjective Not standing by itself; dependent.
  • adjective a color which requires to be fixed by some mordant or base to give it permanency.
  • adjective Relating to procedure.
  • noun (Gram.) A word used with a noun, or substantive, to express a quality of the thing named, or something attributed to it, or to limit or define it, or to specify or describe a thing, as distinct from something else. Thus, in phrase, “a wise ruler,” wise is the adjective, expressing a property of ruler.
  • noun A dependent; an accessory.
  • transitive verb rare To make an adjective of; to form or change into an adjective.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective obsolete Incapable of independent function.
  • adjective grammar Adjectival; pertaining to or functioning as an adjective.
  • adjective law Applying to methods of enforcement and rules of procedure.
  • adjective chemistry Of a dye that needs the use of a mordant to be made fast to that which is being dyed.
  • noun grammar A word that modifies a noun or describes a noun’s referent.
  • verb transitive To make an adjective of; to form or convert into an adjective.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a word that expresses an attribute of something
  • noun the word class that qualifies nouns
  • adjective of or relating to or functioning as an adjective
  • adjective relating to court practice and procedure as opposed to the principles of law


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French adjectif, from Late Latin adiectīvus, from adiectus, past participle of adicere, to add to : ad-, ad- + iacere, to throw; see yē- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French adjectif, from Latin adiectīvum, from ad ("next to") + -iect-, perfect passive participle of iaciō ("throw") + -īvus, adjective ending; hence, a word "thrown next to" a noun, modifying it.


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  • An adjective may, in general, be distinguished from an _adverb_ by this rule: when a word qualifies a _noun_ or _pronoun_, it is an adjective, but when it qualifies a _verb, participle, adjective_, or _adverb_, it is an adverb.

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures Samuel Kirkham

  • Such an adjective is called an _adjective of three endings_.

    Latin for Beginners Benjamin Leonard D'Ooge 1900

  • Find them, and give the reason.] [Footnote 2: When a noun is modified by both a genitive and an adjective, a favorite order of words is _adjective, genitive, noun_.] [Footnote 3: A modifying genitive often stands between a preposition and its object.] *****

    Latin for Beginners Benjamin Leonard D'Ooge 1900

  • A fourth kind of adjective is called by the grammarians an ADVERB; which has generally been formed from the first kind of adjectives, as these were frequently formed from correspondent substantives; or it has been formed from the third kind of adjectives, called participles; and this is effected in both cases by the addition of the syllable ly, as wisely, charmingly.

    Note XIV 1803

  • Pandemic, an adjective from the Greek pandemos, "of all the people," becomes a noun to mean "the outbreak of a disease spreading over a large geographic area," now construed as "worldwide."

    The difference between a Pandemic and an Epidemic Ilya 2009

  • Otherwise an adjective is attached, as in “temporary”.

    Matthew Yglesias » Stimulus Hypocrites Say ARRA Doesn’t Create Jobs, Try to Nab ARRA Jobs for Themselves 2010

  • My favorite is the adjective taken from the Old English word for “gore,” dreor.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Criminal Charges Against Anti-Homosexuality Street Preacher Dropped in England 2010

  • Coming up with a new and different adjective is just too much for her.

    Palin calls news org 'heartless and selfish' 2009

  • Pandemic, an adjective from the Greek pandemos, "of all the people," becomes a noun to mean "the outbreak of a disease spreading over a large geographic area," now construed as "worldwide."

    Archive 2009-04-01 xtra 2009

  • In fact, Wikipedia suggests that it is 'a descendant of the Latin adjective niger, meaning "black"', but that's a technicality.

    Planned Changes to the Dictionary Dungeekin 2009


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  • Funny that the word adjective is a noun... Same with all the other parts of speech, but adjective is the most fun to say. Except for maybe gerund.

    I just love the irony that arises when writing, to discover that you are in need of a "good" adjective, no wait, a "better" adjective, or perhaps an "empathic, melodious, soulful" adjective. And then you decide on moist.

    February 26, 2007

  • “The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.�?

    – Clifton Fadiman (1902-1999)

    August 28, 2007

  • If you think adjective is fun to say, try adjectival, the adjective form of adjective.

    August 29, 2007

  • Hmm. Is there an adjectival form of "noun"?

    August 29, 2007

  • How about nominal?

    August 29, 2007

  • Oh, I suppose. But it just doesn't have the savoir-faire, the...nounishness, if you will, of "noun." ;-P

    August 29, 2007

  • Oh well in that case there's always nounal. :-P

    August 29, 2007

  • That just looks screwy. Nounish, but screwy.

    August 29, 2007

  • Dude, it's a real word. We just speak a screwy language. You'll adjust, sooner or later. Or have a total linguistic breakdown and go hermit on an unpopulated island in the south seas, drawing hieroglyphs to yourself amidst the fiddler crabs.

    August 29, 2007

  • How did you know what I did on my vacation?

    August 29, 2007

  • It was on Wikipedia.

    August 29, 2007

  • Damn. I hate it when that happens.

    August 29, 2007

  • So what did you do on vacation this year, reesetee?

    October 18, 2008

  • Oh, not much. Had another total linguistic breakdown and went native in the Pribilofs. Cavorted with a few seals.

    Great birdwatching, though. :-)

    October 20, 2008