-ite construction for groups or nations. Is it still used?

Israelite, Hittite, Canaanite, Amorite…

I associate the xxx-ite construction of the name for biblical tribes or peoples or nations.

Is that construction still in active use today? Are there Germanites or Iowaites or Swahiliites or Bostonites?

If it’s not in current use (and I’m not counting holdovers like Sodomite), was it ever a common construction, or is it only used in the Bible and now in historical references? Did anyone alive at the time call someone a Hittite?

My understanding is that -ite means “of a given group, creed, tribe, etc. sharing a common belief system or worldview.” So the term could apply to an entire (presumably homogenous) nation, or just a religious sect. Possibly those subscribing to an -ism.

I do believe it’s an obsolete form, in that no new words that I’m aware of have been created using that suffix (Tea Partyite? Zombieite?) in the last couple of decades.

It goes back to Greek, and then descends through Latin and French to English.

In Greek, the suffix was added to nouns to indicate connection with or belonging to. It could be used in a wide variety of ways; ὅπλα (armour) plus the suffix gives ὁπλίτης (a heavily-armed soldier). But the Greeks used it especially frequently for ethnic and local designations, and when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek that gave us Israelite, Levite, Moabite and so forth.

In Christian use it served to identify sects or movements by reference to their founder or leader (Maronite, Puseyite, Hussite) , some belief or tenet (Monophysite) or some practice (eremite) and it also turns up as an identifier for non-religious ideological groups or movements (Williamite, Jabobite, Parnellite, Pre-raphaelite). As Desert Dumpster says, it’s not much used nowadays, and if it were used I think it would be vaguely denigratory or pejorative - if someone got called an Obamaite, for instance, I think we’d assume that the person so naming him had a somewhat negative view of his political position.

In another direction, “-ite” turns up a lot in mineralogy, used in huge variety of ways - graphite is so called because you can make marks with it, azurite is blue, we can guess who discovered brewsterite and where labradorite was found, etc. It turns up in chemistry, in naming salts of acids - nitrite is to nitrous acid as sulphite is to sulphurous acid.

As for naming nations and ethnic groups, in general any group that we have encountered since the classical Greek period has not been named with this suffix.

Also, the Soviets used the suffix pejoratively, to indicate someone who has allegiance to someone or something he presumably shouldn’t, as in “Trotskyite” (counter-revolutionary) and “Hitlerite.”

Edit: Not necessarily pejorative, I realized: “Stakhanovite” was someone who worked extremely hard and exceeded quotas, after the mythical Party construct Stakhanovich.

The official demonym for people from the US state of Wisconsin is “Wisconsinite”. Likewise, Wyomingite and New Hampshirite. There appear to be a few traditional -ite demonyms that aren’t official (Massachussetsite is listed for instance)

Residents of Moscow are referred to (non-perjoratively) as Muscovites.

Another religious grouping are Shiite Muslims… A historical coinage, but still in common use today.

It’s common in UK politics where it’s used to describe a particular political philosophy, usually one associated with a specific individual.

e.g. Thatcherite, Blairite (for Tony Blair), Bennite(after Tony Benn), Milibandite(for the current Labour leader).

I would consider it still productive (linguistically). While no longer used to coin new official terms for national-scale groupings (-ese is the go-to suffix for this: East Timorese, South Sudanese…; though -ian is still current as well), it IS one of the few “someone from X place” suffixes English speakers still think of when they have to produce an informal word on the fly. I know this because, just yesterday, for a Facebook posting I had to come up with a word for “someone from Westchester County, NY,” and “Westchesterite” was the first thing that popped into my head, without ironic or pejorative connotations.

Dallas residents are called "Dallasites’.

Native New Jerseyite here, although I gather that recently the preferred term has become “New Jerseyans”. There are also Brooklynites and various others listed in this link.

Overall, though, I agree the “-ite” construction is probably on the way out. We’ll see it discarded in favor of not only other suffixes like “-an”, but also totally different indigenous demonyms (e.g., “Delhiwala” for “Delhite”, “Malayali” for “Keralite”).

I don’t really know why the “-ite” suffix has fallen out of favor, though: as others have noted, it now sounds vaguely pejorative, but how did that happen?

I can see that. “Westcastrian” brings the cool, though.

I’m a former Bronxite, as well as a former Boulderite.

Bostonite is sometimes used, although Bostonian is the preferred form.

And residents of Paris are called?

I’m a Vancouverite.

As mentioned above, it originates in the Greek. In Hebrew, I believe the suffix -i was used for this purpose, and is still in use today. This is still seen in mid-eastern constructs today like Israeli, Iraqi,
Saudi, Kuwaiti, etc., so I infer it must be an Arabic construct as well.

From a popular Hebrew religious song, Eliahu Hanavi, we have words like Tishbi for Tishbite and Giladi for Gileadite.

It is. AFAIK, it comes from a genitive case suffix -i in Proto-Semitic.

One commonly hears Manhattanite.

and don’t forget the Masonites!


Not to mention the Samsonites!


And then there are the Seattle-ites.