The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Words in English with the suffix -onym (from the Greek for "name") refer to words with a particular property. For example an acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words. Some words have the -nym form rather than the -onym form, such as "ananym" or "hypernym", but that may be more for ease of pronunciation than for etymological reasons.

These words may be freely created, sometimes for no other reason than to give an erudite impression of the user who expects his listeners to understand Greek, and it is in this way that words such as "ornithonym" or "ichthyonym" may be formed.

A list of -onym words

  • acronym: a word formed from the initials of one or more words that is pronounceable like a normal word, such as NATO, sometimes in distinction to initialism
  • allonym: an author's name of another person's, often a well-known person's name
  • anacronym: an acronym that is so well established that its origin as an abbreviation is no longer widely known (a portmanteau of anachronism + acronym)
  • ananym : a name written backward and used as a pseudonym
  • andronym : a name that is generally for a male (i.e. John, Daniel, Michael) (see gynonym)
  • anonym : something created anonymously, or its creator; an unknown author; a pseudonym
  • anthroponym : a classical compound word denoting a human name
  • antonym: a word with the exact opposite meaning of another word; an antithesis: "high" and "low" are antonyms (compare with "synonym")
  • aptronym: a name appropriate to its owner's occupation or physical properties, such as "Goldsmith" or "Longman" (compare with "charactonym")
  • aristonym: a name derived from a high rank or a title of nobility
  • backronym: an ordinary word understood as an amusing or ironic acronym (a portmanteau of back + acronym), such as Fiat understood as "Fix It Again Tomorrow"
  • caconym : a word that is wrongly applied; a misnomer; the incorrect name for something, especially in the classification of plants, etc (compare with euonym).
  • capitonym: a word that changes its pronunciation and meaning when it is capitalized, such as Augustaugust or Polishpolish
  • charactonym: a name of a fictional character reflected in his personality traits, such as Shakespeare's Pistol or Bottom (compare with "aptronym")
  • contronym: a word that may have opposite meanings in different contexts, such as cleave meaning "stick together" or "split apart"
  • cryptonym: a code name; a word or name used clandestinely to refer to another name or word
  • demonym: a name of people that refers to the place they come from, such as the "Assyrian", or the "Briton"
  • eponym: a botanical, zoological, artwork, or place name that derives from a real or legendary person; a name for a real or hypothetical person from whom a botanical, geographical, artwork or zoological name is derived; a person after whom a medical condition is named, or the condition so named
  • ethnonym : a name of an ethnic group
  • euonym : a word well suited to a person, place or thing so named; a pleasant name (compare "caconym")
  • exonym : a name used by one group of people for another group, but who call themselves by a different name, such as "Germans" for "Deutsche"; a place name used by one group that differs from the name used by the people who live there, such as "Cologne" for "Köln"
  • gynonym : a name that is generally for a female (i.e. Nicole, Heather, Kaitlyn) (see andronym)
  • heteronym: a word that is spelled in the same way as another but that has a different sound and meaning, for example "bow" as in "bow of a ship" or "bow and arrow" (compare "homonyn")
  • holonym : a word for the whole of which other words are part, in the way house contains roof, door and window; or car contains steering-wheel and engine (compare "meronym")
  • homonym: a word that is pronounced and spelled the same way as another, but has a different meaning, such as bat as in "fruit bat" or "bat and ball" (compare "heteronym", "isonym")
  • hydronym : a name of a body of water
  • hypernym or hyperonym: a generic word that stands for a class or group of equally-ranked items, such as "tree" for "beech" or "elm", or "house" for "chalet" or "bungalow". A hypernym is said to be "superordinate" to hyponym.
  • hyponym: an item that belongs to and is equally-ranked in a generic class or group, for example "lily" or "violet" in the class of "flowers"; or "limousine" or "hatchback" in the class of "automobiles". A hyponym is said to be "subordinate" to hypernym.
  • isonym : a word that is spelt the same as another word but sounds differently; or is of the same derivation as another and is therefore a cognate of that word (compare "homonym", "heteronym")
  • meronym : a word that names a part that belongs to and is therefore subordinate to a larger entity; a part-whole relationship, such as "door" or "window" in "house", or "engine" or "steering-wheel" in "car" (compare "holonym")
  • metonym: a word that substitutes a part for the whole it is associated with, for example "crown" for "monarch"; metonymy is the figure of speech incorporating a metonym
  • paronym: a word that is related to another word and derives from the same root; a cognate word, such as dubious and doubtful
  • patronym or patronymic; a name adopted from the father's or ancestor's name, for example "Johnson" from "John", "MacDonald" from "Donald", "O'Brien" from "Brien", or "Ivanovich" from "Ivan"
  • pseudonym: a false and fictitious name, especially one adopted by an author; a pen name
  • retronym: a compound or modified noun that replaces an original simple noun, for example "analog watch" now means what "watch" used to mean before the invention of the digital watch
  • synonym: a word equivalent in meaning or nearly so to another word; a word that may be substituted for another word that has the same or a similar meaning, such as near and close (compare "antonym")
  • tautonym : a binomial or scientific name in the taxonomy of living things in which the generic and specific names are the same, such as Gorilla gorilla; a scientific name in which the specific name is repeated, such as Homo sapiens sapiens as distinct from Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; a noun component that is repeated, such as aye-aye or tom-tom; a personal name where both forename and surname are identical, such as Francis Francis
  • toponym: a place or geographical name; the name of an area of the body, as distinguished from the name of an organ
  • troponym ; a verb that indicates more precisely the manner of doing something by its replacing a verb of a more generalized meaning, for example "strolling" is a leisurely manner of "walking"

See also: neologism

Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46