The headlines from the BBC

Hollywood great Rooney dies at 93

What is that word 'great' there? Can adjective be used this way? Or is it noun there? But then two nouns? Or Hollywood becomes adjective then? Really?

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    Yes, Hollywood functions as a modifier in that sentence, much like "New York" would be a modifier in the phrase, "New York mayor Bill de Blasio..." – J.R. Apr 7 '14 at 10:38
  • @J.R. I see. Then how do I differentiate a modifier Hollywood and an adjective Hollywood here? – Maulik V Apr 7 '14 at 10:45
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    You don't; modifier is just a word to use for an adjective when that word doesn't normally function as an adjective. NOAD says: modifier - Grammar a word, esp. an adjective or noun used attributively, that restricts or adds to the sense of a head noun (e.g., good and family in a good family house). "noun used attributively" - that's the key part. – J.R. Apr 7 '14 at 11:52

Here "great" acts as a noun.

Hollywood great (personality) Rooney dies at 93.

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  • Doesn't it require the definite article in that case? if it's similar to The Hollywood actor.... – Maulik V Apr 7 '14 at 7:59
  • Not necessarily. I understand you are talking about examples like "the rich", "the poor". But there are other cases also where adjectives acts like noun like the case in here. – Man_From_India Apr 7 '14 at 8:01
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    And most importantly: it is a headline. Articles are often dropped in headline: "12 die in fire", "poor man wins lottery". – oerkelens Apr 7 '14 at 8:09
  • @oerkelens Oh yeah, that was one of my answers here too. My memory is getting weaker! – Maulik V Apr 7 '14 at 9:17

It's exactly the same as saying the noun "legend" in that context. It's also an unusual case in that it is grammatically correct without a comma or article. "Legend" in that context is the same way. So "great" is acting as a noun.

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