Matt Gemmell

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Evil -ists!

personal 1 min read

Writing my previous post on the evolution-vs-creation issue, I became aware that I had a visceral reaction when I read the word “Creationist”. It wasn’t because of its specific meaning, but rather due to the suffix “-ist”. Is it me, or (generally speaking; there are always exceptions), are “-ists” bad?

Think about it. Which sounds better: “Christian”, or “Christist” (or “Christianist”). The “-ist” suffix has been subtly imbued with connotations of extremism (“extremist”!), unsavoury and uncivilised beliefs, and a general negative air. There are certainly exceptions (“scientist” is the obvious one, though there’s plenty of irony to be found there if you’re looking for it), but generally speaking I think that we don’t like “-ists”.

Much better to be an “-ian”. You inherit the same positive vibes felt by Christian libertarian humanitarians, and you can quietly forget about all those totalitarian librarians out there (let’s face it, they’re really separatists at heart). Better to be worried instead about the fascist, extremist, cultist anarchists who are out to get your children!