Creative Is Not a Noun

That’s right, the word “creative” is not a noun. It is not a person, nor a place, nor a thing. You cannot touch “creative.” You cannot visit “creative.” You cannot sit on “creative” or put “creative” in your pocket or ask “creative” to wear that dress you like, you know, the green one. “Creative” is an adjective describing a person, place or thing which possesses the attribute of creativity (n.) or the capacity to create (v.).

So please don’t ask me to deliver a creative to you, because I won’t understand what you’re referring to without an appropriate noun being described. Do you want a creative drawing, or a composition, or a design? Perhaps a doodle on a cocktail napkin, or a story about a snooty talking cat who travels through time, or maybe a sculpture made from bubble gum and anteater fur? Tell me what exactly you’re asking for and I’ll do my best to make it a creative one.

Also, please don’t call me a creative. I’m a human, a designer, a developer, a geek, an employee, a dude/guy/bloke, and many other potential nouns, and I do try to be creative in all those capacities. So if you call me a creative, while the intent is appreciated, your compliment is diminished by your misuse of the language.

If you use the adjective “creative” as a noun, no matter how popular it may be in buzz-heavy business circles, you’ll only sound silly to creative people who perform creative tasks and make creative things. The nouning of adjectives is at least as annoying as the verbing of nouns. Stop doing it.

Categorized as Rant


  1. Your brother has been sending us regular updates on his experiences during his current job assignment in Japan. I must admit, being professionally first and foremost an English teacher–not just of grammar but of the proper use of the language in all aspects–that I am extremely proud of how well he writes. However, I am pleased beyond proud when I read some of the things you write. They are not simply well written, they are also creative and oft’times inspiring. Thanks for being willing to share them so openly.

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