According hereto, politic (with NO s) is an adjective or verb, and not a noun. So shouldn't the body politic be "the politic body" instead? Are both legitimate? If so, what are the similarities and differences?

Source: p 186, The Legal Analyst, Ward Farnsworth

We have been speaking of three usual parties to these situations: the author of the rule, the enforcer of it, and the party to whom it applies. But there may be a fourth party consisting of the body politic; members of the public may take an interest in the law not because they are concerned about how it applies to them personally but because they are wondering if the law ought to be reformed.

1 Answer 1


This type of adjective-noun inversion is not common, mostly encountered in writing and in fixed phrases. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

since time immemorial (meaning: since as far back as can be recalled)

the body electric (from a famous poem by Walt Whitman)

(interested in, well versed in, etc.) all things political, scientific, linguistic, French, etc.

  • Here I didn't count cases of passive participles commonly appearing after their noun: the word cited in my response; the question posed by the teacher; the chapter outlined in this lesson, etc.
    – CocoPop
    Aug 5, 2014 at 15:25
  • 1
    There are more examples and discussion at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-positive_adjective
    – Dan Getz
    Aug 5, 2014 at 22:19
  • Cool. I had no idea what it was called :)
    – CocoPop
    Aug 5, 2014 at 22:30

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