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

  • adj. Of or relating to the assignment of names.
  • adj. Grammar Of or relating to a common noun.
  • n. A name or descriptive epithet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a common noun.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to ascribing names.
  • n. A common noun.
  • n. An epithet.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to a common name; serving as a distinctive denomination; denominative; naming.
  • adj. Common, as opposed to proper; denominative of a class.
  • n. A common name, in distinction from a proper name. A common name, or appellative, stands for a whole class, genus, or species of beings, or for universal ideas. Thus, tree is the name of all plants of a particular class; plant and vegetable are names of things that grow out of the earth. A proper name, on the other hand, stands for a single thing; as, Rome, Washington, Lake Erie.
  • n. An appellation or title; a descriptive name.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having the character of an appellation; serving to name or mark out; serving as a distinctive denomination; denominative: as, hydrochloric is a term appellative of a certain acid.
  • In grammar, common, as applied to a noun; general; denominative of a class: opposed to proper.
  • n. In grammar, a common name in distinction from a proper name; a name standing for a whole class: thus, the word man is the appellative of the whole human race, fowl of all winged animals, tree of all plants of a particular class, etc.
  • n. Title; appellation; nickname.

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

  • adj. pertaining to or dealing with or used as a common noun
  • n. identifying word or words by which someone or something is called and classified or distinguished from others
  • adj. inclined to or serving for the giving of names


Middle English, common (noun), from Old French appelatif, from Late Latin appelātīvus, from Latin appellātus, past participle of appellāre, to call upon, entreat; see appeal.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin appellativus, from the stem appella- "to call", with the adjectival suffix -ive. (Wiktionary)



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  • adj., designating by name a thing of which more than one exists; related to the giving of names.

    n., a common (as opposed to proper) noun; appellation.

    July 13, 2008