Detective as a noun

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adrnstyd

Member
Bahasa Indonesia
Why would you use the word "detective" for an investigator?
Shouldn't the suffix -ive used for an adjective?
What's the adjective of the word detect?

Many thanks for your answer .
 
  • Renaissance man

    Senior Member
    A detective is usually a noun -- an investigator or similar to be more precise -- and you shouldn't focus too much on the ending.

    Something that is used in the detection of something could be referred to as detective, but it's not very common.
     

    luitzen

    Senior Member
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    The word 'adjective' is a noun itself. I don't know what the rules are, but I suspect all -ive words are French loanwords (e.g. primitive, objective, productive, etc.), so you may better ask a Frenchman.
     

    adrnstyd

    Member
    Bahasa Indonesia
    Funny! :D I just realized that 'adjective' is also a noun. :p
    Thanks for that.
    I also want to know if native english users have insights on my questions. Is there any native english speaker here?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Here's the OED on the -ive suffix, adrnstyd:
    [...] the suffix is largely used in the modern Romanic langs., and in English, to adapt Latin words in -īvus, or form words on Latin analogies, with the sense ‘having a tendency to, having the nature, character, or quality of, given to (some action)’.

    [...]
    Already in Latin many of these adj[ective]s were used subst[antively]; this precedent is freely followed in the mod[ern] lang[uages] and in English: e.g. adjective, captive, derivative, expletive, explosive, fugitive, indicative, incentive, invective, locomotive, missive, native, nominative, prerogative, sedative, subjunctive.
    In other words, the use of words ending in -ive as nouns has a very long history:).
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    The word 'adjective' is a noun itself. I don't know what the rules are, but I suspect all -ive words are French loanwords (e.g. primitive, objective, productive, etc.), so you may better ask a Frenchman.
    According to the Oxford English Dictionary detective comes from the English detect plus the suffix -ive. The OED and the Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé both say that the French word for the investigator, détective, is derived from the English noun.
     
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