Dave’s WW of EU: The Other “-nyms”

Now that we’ve finished off the most common “-nym” words, here’s an exhaustive list of all the other -nym words out there. I’ll do my best to provide reasonable definitions, but realize a lot of these are really obscure.

Pretty interesting.

  • Aptronym–When a person’s name matches their occupation or character well (e.g., Dan Snow for an arctic explorer)
  • Autoantonym (contranym, contronym)–A word that has two or more opposite meanings (fast = move quickly OR fix firmly in place)
  • Autonym–A word that describes itself (e.g., abbrv is the abbreviated form of abbreviation). This term also describes your real name (think the opposite of a psuedonym) or the name by which a social group or race calls themselves (e.g., American)
  • Backronym–Kind of like an acronym, but instead of the initial letters creating the acronym, you create a phrase out of the word. An early example I found was Arby’s. Arby’s is not an acronym, but an early ad campaign turned the name into an backronym for “America’s Roast Beef, Yes Sir!” Check out this Wikipedia article for more information.
  • Capitonym–A word which changes its meaning and pronunciation when capitalized (e.g., polish, Polish)
  • Eponym–A name from which another name or word is derived (e.g., a Ponzi Scheme arose from a scam artist named Ponzi; gerrymandering came from an early politician named Gerry who attempted to create politically beneficial voting districts that some claimed looked like Salamanders, hence the term Gerry-Mandering)
  • Exonym–A place name used by foreigners that differs from the name used by natives (e.g., Germany vs Deutschland)
  • Hypernym (hyperonym)–A word that has a more general meaning than another (e.g., chair vs. furniture, Furniture is a hypernym of chair)
  • Hyponym–A word that has a more specific meaning than another (e.g., furniture vs chair, Chair is a hyponym of furniture)
  • Meronym–A word that refers to a part of what another word refers to (e.g., leg vs ankle, the ankle is part of the leg). A term midway between two opposites (e.g., present is the mid-point between past and future)
  • Metonym–A word that designates something by the name of somethings associated with it (e.g., the Crown referring to a monarchy)
  • Metronym (see patronym)–A name derived from the name of one’s mother or another female ancestor
  • Numeronym–A word based on a number (e.g., K9 vs canine). This is increasingly popular in our text-heavy world (l8r, gr8, g2g, etc).
  • Oronym–A string of words which is homophonic (sounds the same) with another string of words (e.g., Ice cream vs I scream)
  • Paronym–A word for the same root and usually similar in pronunciation to another word (e.g., beautiful vs beauteous)
  • Patronym (see metronym)–A name derived from the name of one’s father or another male ancestor
  • Pseudonym–An assumed name, especially by an author
  • Retronym–An adjective-noun pairing generated by a change in the meaning of the base noun (e.g., pocket watch vs wrist watch–Before the invention of the wrist watch, a pocket watch was simply known as a watch. To differentiate between the two watch types, watches became known specifically as pocket or wrist watches)
  • Tautonym–A word composed of two identical parts (e.g., bye-bye)
  • Toponym–A place name (e.g., America, Utah, Alaska). A word derived from a place name (e.g., Cheddar cheese vs Cheddar, England)

Most of these examples and definitions came from this site: http://www.fun-with-words.com/nym_words.html.

This entry was posted in Dave's Wonderful World of English Usage. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s