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May 29, 2006
This week's theme
Adjectives used postpositively

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with Anu Garg

These adjectives are called postpositive, not because they are positive words. Rather, the designation "positive" alludes to their position -- they are placed (or deposited) after the word they modify, for example, adjective extraordinaire in "teacher extraordinaire". We often find these adjectives in phrases, such as "attorney general" or "court martial". Product names often have adjectives placed postpositively, e.g. Miller Lite or iPod nano.

While in many languages (Spanish, French, etc.) adjectives are placed after the noun as a rule, in English there are certain situations where we use adjectives postpositively. When modifying a pronoun, an adjective is usually postpositive, as in "those responsible" or "all present".

This week there will be adjectives aplenty here. Let's look at a number of adjectives that say to the noun: "After you!"


(mang-KAY) Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

adjective: Unfulfilled in realization of one's potential or ambition.

From French manqué, past participle of manquer (to lack), from Italian mancare, from manco (lacking, defective), from Latin mancus (maimed, having a crippled hand). Ultimately from Indo-European root man- (hand) that's also the source of manage, maintain, maneuver, manufacture, manuscript, and command.

"Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, formally opened the building and said: 'I have always seen myself as a trader manque.'"
George Trefgarne; City: Sliding euro is an 'embarrassment'; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jul 17, 1999.

See more usage examples of manque in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution. -Hannah Arendt, historian and philosopher (1906-1975)

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