I've never understood the meaning of an adjective ending with '-stic' and its difference with other suffixes, e.g. national, nationalist, and nationalistic; legal, legalistic...

I've read answers to a previous question: Is there a difference between "communistic" and "communist"?, which doesn't really satisfy me.

For a more specific example, from Wikipedia:

From October 1801 onward, it was known as the Batavian Commonwealth (Dutch: Bataafs Gemenebest). Both names refer to the Germanic tribe of the Batavi, representing both the Dutch ancestry and their ancient quest for liberty in their nationalistic lore.

My question is: why "nationalistic lore" instead of "national lore"?

Is there a similar structure in French? My mother tongue is Chinese, so this kind of "lore" doesn't even exist in it.

  • 4
    Are you quite sure there is no concept of 'lore' in any Chinese tongue, nationalistic or otherwise? Dec 29, 2023 at 11:08
  • 3
    Anyone can add to Wikipedia and use words improperly.
    – TimR
    Dec 29, 2023 at 14:40
  • For the particular case of "legal", "Legalism" specifically refers to a Chinese philosophy, and "legalism" in the Western sense is a concept in jurisprudence.
    – qwr
    Dec 29, 2023 at 22:15
  • 1
    my apology, I didn't mean there's no corresponding notion for lore but not the same difference btwn national / nationalistic. Dec 30, 2023 at 15:30
  • 1
    民族 vs 民族主义,one is a descriptor to indicate origin, the other is charged with nationalist ideology (that your nation should be a nation and is exemplary/exceptional/glorious etc.).
    – xngtng
    Dec 31, 2023 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


In OP's cited context...

their nationalistic lore

...categorises (some or all of) their "lore" (their cultural traditions, as passed on through generations) as jingoistic - excessively promoting the interests of one's own country above others. So it's practically bound to be a negative reference. This also applies to nationalist (the -ist suffix implies "favouring, promoting", with or without the final -ic suffix implying "of that type"). But if the text had been...

their national lore

...that would simply be a "neutral" reference to the cultural traditions that apply throughout the nation (primarily, nationwide opposed to local traditions).

  • 6
    Yes. I believe the OP is not realising that 'nationalistic' is 'nationalist' with an '-ic' ending, and not 'national' with an -istic' ending. Dec 29, 2023 at 14:23
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey: Not all -istic's are "negatively charged", though. Artistic leanings are a fine thing to have, whereas arty suggests derogatory reduplication to me! Dec 31, 2023 at 1:24
  • Yes, and 'naturalistic' is pretty positive. Some people use 'solipsistic' as an insult, although I would imagine the audience for it is quite limited. Dec 31, 2023 at 8:26

"lore" = body of traditions and knowledge of a group of people.

This might include traditional stories, folk history and myths.

An national lore is the lore that relates to a nation. For example Chinese lore includes such stories as Sun Wukong – the Monkey King, or the Jade Rabbit. The meanings of the shengxiao, and so on.

Nationalist lore is the lore used or adapted to nationalist purposes, that is for the purpose of promoting the idea that one nation is superior to another. Nationalists (in Europe, China, and elsewhere) use traditional stories to promote nationalist ideas: for example the use of the story of the "divine wind" to promote and justify the kamikaze by the Japanese.

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