The European Union – A Land With No Demonym


July 12, 2017

Allan Stevo

“This item first appeared at on May 22, 2017.”

A demonym or gentilic is a word used to describe a resident or native of a place. Americans come from America. Italians come from Italy. Slovaks come from Slovakia, and Europeans come from Europe. But who comes from the European Union?

“Europeans” is what the European Commission would like us to call their subjects, but the last time I checked, the borders of the European Union were not colinear with the borders of Europe.

Since Switzerland, Norway, and Russia are not part of the European Union, a resident of Geneva, Oslo, or Moscow is certainly European, though not a resident of the European Union. For the sake of clarity, Europe and the European Union should not share a demonym.

Additionally, using the same demonym confuses that which is nearly timeless with that which is short-lived and temporary. Allowing the same demonym to be used offers the insinuation that a temporary political entity like the European Union deserves to co-opt the name of a diverse set of cultures of people who have made the continent of Europe their own over many centuries of work, struggle, and experimentation. After all, political entities are merely temporary – even the great Holy Roman Empire is no more. Cultures are more long lasting. And continents are nearly timeless.

Once Greece finally leaves the EU experiment and Brexit finally becomes a reality, will the Greek people, at the spearhead of European culture in ancient times, or the British people, at the spearhead of European culture in modern times suddenly cease to be European? Of course not. Will they be sued in some international court of law if they continue to allow the word “European” used for any non-EU activity? Of course not. Though if it were a trademark, it would feel a lot like trademark infringement that the EU is guilty of with its duplicative demonym.

If I were running a makeshift group of bureaucrats like the European Commission, who claimed great authority, but who could be brought down by a single unfavorable election in a major member state like France or Germany, then I too might want to encourage people to confuse my existence with more timeless concepts like a culture or continent. However, that doesn’t mean any one of us have to play along with that silly game.

George Orwell wrote in 1984, “All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers.”

I don’t really know what these Eurocrats have up their sleeves, but they can’t fool me into calling the residents of their rapidly shrinking political unit by the same name as the people who have had the most pronounced positive impact on the world over the past 500 years.

Nope. You can’t fool me with that trick.

I sat down to brainstorm some ideas and this is what I came up with.

A subject of Brussels
A subject of Brussels, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg
Eurite (sounds like “you’re right”)
Eurak (like Slovak, sounds like “you rock”)
Citeuon (CITizen of the EUropean uniON)

I think EU-er & Eutopian are my favorite so far. How about you? What word would you want to start using to describe an inhabitant of the European Union?

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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  • The US doesn’t have one either unless one subscribes to USian. Or alternatively if American is used to describe US persons then European is as (in)appropriate for European persons.

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