Reading this article, a line reads,

The New York Times reports today that Biden’s Kafkaesque “White House Gender Policy Council” is “beginning his promised effort to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault.” The subhead informs us that, “The Biden administration will examine regulations by Betsy DeVos that gave the force of law to rules that granted more due-process rights to students accused of sexual assault.”

Is the bold word a name or an adjective? If it is an adjective, why is the first word written in the big letter?

And what does that mean?

A dictionary gives me the definition as the following but to me personally it looks it wouldn't fit.

: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality

Thank and sorry for taking your time in advance.

  • 1
    You are correct. It doesn't fit very well but the intended meaning is what you found in the dictionary. There should either be some contextual support earlier in the article that demonstrates bizarreness or someone is trying to force an adjective here to appeal to a point of view. Generally something has to be understood as bizarre first, then a writer/speaker can apply Kafkaesque to it. Not the other way around. The Kafkaesque dining hall, for example, doesn't make much sense because I don't already know why it's weird. – EllieK Mar 10 at 13:55

"Kafkaesque" is an adjective, so it is correct for this situation and makes sense: The author is saying that Biden's council has a bizarre, illogical, or absurd quality.

The adjective is capitalized because it is a proper noun (the last name of the author Franz Kafka) that has been turned into an adjective. See the Wiktionary entry for "-esque" for more information.

  • Like Dickensian, Victorian, Georgian, Proustian, Freudian, Byronic, etc. – Michael Harvey Mar 10 at 6:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.