I noticed that "Romanticism" in French is "romantisme," contrary to my guess of "romanticisme." I was curious how other the word was spelled in other European languages.

Similar to English ("icism")

  • English: Romanticism
  • Spanish: Romanticismo
  • Italian: Romanticismo

Similar to French ("ism")

  • French: romantisme
  • Portuguese: Romantismo
  • Romanian: Romantism
  • Polish: Romantyzm
  • Russian: Романти́зм
  • Czech: Romantismus
  • Bulgarian: романтизъм
  • Croatian: Romantizam
  • Serbian: Романтизам
  • Greek: Ρομαντισμός

Similar to German ("ik")

  • German: Romantik
  • Danish: Romantikken
  • Dutch: romantiek
  • Swedish: Romantik
  • Norwegian: romantikken
  • Finnish: romantiikka
  • Hungarian: Romantika

There are some patterns that make sense. For instance, most of the Germanic and Uralic languages end up in the third category, while the Slavic languages are in the second. What confuses me is how the Romance languages seem to be split between the first two categories. And I also do not have a hypothesis for why English is in the first category.

Is there a simple explanation for how this "icism"/"ism"/"ik" split works? I am not too knowledgeable about linguistics, so apologies in advance if I have made some blunder.

  • 1
    The third set are all borrowed from German. The second set seem to be borrowed from French.
    – fdb
    Nov 5, 2019 at 0:56
  • First, see the etymology of the word. Second, see the patter of suffixes in different language. In French, we don't add "icisme", we add "isme" each time it is possible.
    – Quidam
    Nov 11, 2019 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


There's an etymological chain of words:
roman(e) = (medieval) vernacular language derived from Latin (like French or Italian)
roman = literary work written in vernacular (as opposed to serious scholarly works in Latin)
romantique = typical of romans
whence two formations:
romant-isme, based on a fictitious stem romant- (apparently French-made)
romantic-ism(e), based on romantiq- (apparently Italian-made)

  • Yes, it was French-made. But the "icism" is also common suffix in English I believe.
    – Quidam
    Nov 12, 2019 at 0:00

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