According to the dictionary,

of, characteristic of, or relating to communism

of, characterized by, favouring, or relating to communism; communistic

I am struggling to understand the difference between these 2 adjectives, and why communist is much more prevalent, and why communistic, on the other hand, is rarely used.

Communist is a noun and the suffix -ist indicates a person, so can the adjective be interpreted as "of a communist", or "belonging to a communist"? If so, does communistic carry the same connotation?

I am also under the impression that communistic is softer/broader than communist. For example, I interpret "a communistic idea" as "an idea somewhat connected to communism", but "a communist idea" as "an idea strictly based on communism". Does it make sense?

I am also wondering whether is a proper adjective, or if it's simply a noun used attributively.

communist vs communistic

Until very recently, I thought communistic is the only proper adjective describing communism (because -ic seemed the only appropriate suffix). How common is it to use the -ist adjective when there are more proper adjectival forms available (ending with -ic, -ical)? For example, altruist or egoist are never adjectives, though they similarly could describe altruism and egotism.

Thank you!

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    One difference is that communistic isn't used as a noun; if you want an unambiguous adjective, use that. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 0:54

2 Answers 2


The word “communistic” is hardly ever used in English; you will almost always hear people say “communist,” unless it’s in some academic or scholarly setting.

And you’re right about the soft part. “Communistic” might be used to describe something that resembles communism but isn’t necessarily a part of it. On the other hand, “communist” usually refers to something that has an established relation to communism.

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    Welcome to StackExchange! Good answer! Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 2:25

Lexico's entry for communistic simply says, "see communist". And, by the way, their definition of capitalistic is exactly the same as their definition of capitalist!

It would be hard to tell which of the Collins definitions you quote refers to which word!

Both communist and communistic were used before the Communist Manifesto of 1848 when speaking about collective ownership, often in reference to the disciples or to monastries, or (in 1860) to "the instincts whereby a number of individuals mutually co - operate for the maintenance of the species. ["Mind and Brain" Thomas Laycock.]

I agree with Annabeth Yeung: the -ic seems to suggest a loose association with whichever socio-economic system it's attached to. Neither word is much used in the UK.

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