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The suffix -onym, in English and other languages, means "word, name," and words ending in -onym refer to a specified kind of name or word, most of which are classical compounds. For example, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term (as radar). The use of -onym words provides a means of classifying, often to a fine degree of resolution, sets of nouns with common attributes.
In some words, the -onym form has been modified by replacing (or dropping) the "o". In the examples ananym and metanym, the correct forms (anonym and metonym) were pre-occupied by other meanings. Other, late 20th century examples, such as hypernym and characternym, are typically incorrectly formed neologisms for which there are more traditional words formed in -onym (hyperonym and charactonym).
The English suffix -onym is from the Ancient Greek suffix -ώνυμον (ōnymon), neuter of the suffix ώνυμος (ōnymos), having a specified kind of name, from the Greek ὄνομα (ónoma), Aeolic Greek ὄνυμα (ónyma), "name". The form -ōnymos is that taken by ónoma when it is the end component of a bahuvrihi compound, but in English its use is extended to tatpurusa compounds.
The suffix is found in many modern languages with various spellings. Examples are: Dutch synoniem, German Synonym, Portuguese sinónimo, Russian синоним (sinonim), Polish synonim, Finnish synonyymi, Indonesian sinonim.
According to a 1988 study of words ending in -onym, there are four discernible classes of -onym words: (1) historic, classic, or, for want of better terms, naturally occurring or common words; (2) scientific terminology, occurring in particular in linguistics, onomastics, etc.; (3) language games; and (4) nonce words. Older terms are known to gain new, sometimes contradictory, meanings (e.g., eponym and cryptonym). In many cases, two or more words describe the same phenomenon, but no precedence is discernible (e.g., necronym and penthonym). New words are sometimes created, the meaning of which duplicating existing terms. On occasion, new words are formed with little regard to historical principles.
Words that end in -onym
- acronym: considered to be a "word" in its original sense formed from the initials of one or more words that is pronounceable like a normal word, such as NATO, sometimes in distinction to initialism; reflecting a historical development from its component word initials
- allonym: an author's name of another person's, often a well-known person's, name; an alternative term for a pseudonym
- anacronym: an acronym that is so well-established that its origin as an abbreviation is no longer widely known (a portmanteau of anachronism + acronym), for example scuba and laser; historically an acronym whose component initials are in danger of no longer being recognized
- anonym: something created anonymously, or its creator; an unknown author; this term now generally replaced by pseudonym
- anepronym: a portmanteau of anacronym and eponym; an original eponym of a trademark term that becomes so well established that it is used to define other objects that share its own definition (e.g., aspirin)
- anthroponym: a name of a human being; as reflected in surnames or proper names of people
- antonym: a word with the exact opposite meaning of another word; an antithesis: often shown in opposite word pairs such as "high" and "low" (compare with "synonym")
- apronym: a word, which as an acronym or backronym, has a meaning related to the meaning of the words constituting the acronym or backronym; such as PLATO for "Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching" alluding to Plato, the philosopher and teacher
- aptronym: a name appropriate to its owner's occupation or physical properties, such as "Goldsmith" or "Longman" (compare with "charactonym") — coined by Franklin P. Adams
- astronym: a name of a star (or more loosely of a constellation or other heavenly body)
- autonym: Botanical nomenclature for an automatically created name
- backronym: an ordinary word understood as an (usually amusing or ironic) acronym (a portmanteau of back + acronym), such as Fiat understood as "Fix It Again Tomorrow"
- basionym: the first name published for a biological taxon (species, genus, etc.), which remains the defining name for the taxon even when the taxon has been transferred to a new name
- capitonym: a word that changes its meaning (and sometimes pronunciation) when it is capitalized, such as March and march or Polish and polish.
- charactonym: a name of a fictional character reflected in his personality traits, such as Shakespeare's Pistol or Bottom (compare with "aptronym")
- chrematonym: a name of a politico-economic or commercial or cultural institution or thing; a catch-all category
- consonym: a word that has the same consonants as another word, in the same order, ignoring all vowels. An aconsonym is the same concept in an opposite order : language game 1979 by Gary Pisher; to be specific a: originally, such a word constructed phonetically (as exam, with consonant pattern /gzm/ = eczema and gizmo). Revised rules by Philip M. Cohen always consider /w/ and /y/ consonants. b: such a word constructed alphabetically (as thence, with consonant pattern "thnc" = ethnic), sometimes distinguished as strict consonym, where "y" is always a consonant, and permissive consonym, where "y" is always a vowel.
- contronym or antagonym or autoantonym: 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, derived from a place name, for residents of that place (e.g., Utahn, from Utah, or Sioux Cityan, from Sioux City) — coined by George H. Scheetz, according to Paul Dickson in What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names. The term first appeared in print in 1988 in Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon by George H. Scheetz. See also taxonym.
- endonym: A self-assigned name by locals of a place. Also known as an autonym (not to be confused with the autonym in botany).
- 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. A type of taxonym.
- ergonym: sometimes used for the name of an institution or commercial firm
- ethnonym: a name of an ethnic group. A type of taxonym.
- 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"
- geonym: a name of a geographic feature
- glossonym or glottonym: a name of a language
- 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 "homonym")
- hodonym: a name of a street or road
- 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: 1: a: a word pronounced like another, but differing in meaning or derivation or spelling—also known as homophone (to, too, two). b: a word spelled like another, but differing in derivation or meaning or pronunciation—also known as homograph or heteronym (lead, to conduct, and lead, the metal). Compare autantonym, contronym, and heteronym. c: a word spelled and pronounced like another, but differing in meaning (pool of water, and pool, the game). 2: a namesake. 3: Biol. a taxonomic designation that is identical to another one of the same rank, but based on a different type; only one of the homonyms is considered a valid designation (see homonym (biology)). Compare to synonym.
- hydronym: a name of river, lake, or other body of water
- hypernym: sometimes spelled 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 a hyponym.
- hypocoronym or hypocoristic: a colloquial, usually unofficial, name of an entity; a pet-name or "nickname"
- 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 a hyperonym.
- isonym: 1: a word having the same root or stem as another — also known as paronym. Compare exonym, heteronym, paronym, and synonym. 2: one person's surname that is the same as another person's surname. 3: Biol. a taxonomic designation that is identical to another designation, and based on the same type, but published at a different time by the same or other authors (see isonym (taxonomy).
- 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
- matronym or matronymic: a name of a human being making reference to that person's mother (contrast "patronym")
- mononym: a word indicating the "single name" as generally applied to people e.g. Madonna or Plato.
- microtoponym: a word indicating an uninhabited place cf. toponym.
- necronym: a reference to or name of a person who has died.
- numeronym: is a number-based word.
- odonym: a name of a street or road.
- oikonym or (Latinized) oeconym: a name of a house or other building
- oronym: (1) a name of a hill, mountain, or mountain-range; (2) a neologism for homophonic words or phrases.
- 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"
- phytonym: a name of a plant
- 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; and motorcycles became "solo motorcycles" when others were built with sidecars
- synonym: 1: 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"). 2: In Biology, one or more names given to the same taxon, and so considered equivalent. Usually only one of them in considered as correct (senior synonym in animal taxonomy, accepted name in plant taxonomy), while the other are considered deprecated (see synonym (taxonomy).
- 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
- taxonym: a name used for classification or identification purposes, usually signifying a relationship to something. Taxonyms include binomens, names of clades or taxons, demonyms, ethnonyms, and eponyms. Examples include canine, hominid, and Dryad.
- tecnonym: a teknonym, q.v.
- teknonym (or tecnonym): 1: Ethnol. a parent's name derived from a child's name (practiced among some indigenous peoples) (from teknonymy). Compare paedonym. 2: a child's name when used to identify a person as the parent of that child, rather than by that person's personal name ("Look, there's Tim's father").
- textonym: a word that is generated by a single sequence of numerals keyed in to a mobile telephone; for example, 726 produces pam, ram, sam, and ran. Also called homonumeric words.
- theonym: a name of a god. The names societies give their gods at times is useful in understanding the origin of their language as well as their view of a particular deity. Analysis of theonyms has been useful in understanding the connections of Indo-European languages, and possibly their religions, in particular. In Abrahamic faiths the origin and meaning of the Tetragrammaton is sometimes deemed to have important historical or even metaphysical meaning.
- theronym: a name — especially a product name — that has been derived from the name of an animal.
- 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 conveying a meaning that is a particular case of the meaning of another verb. For example, to duel is a troponym of to fight; to write is a troponym of to communicate; etc.
- zoonym: a name of an animal
- Scheetz, Names' Names, p. 1
- What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names by Paul Dickson (Facts on File, February 1990). ISBN 978-0-8160-1983-0
- Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon by George H. Scheetz (Sioux City: Schütz Verlag, 1988) No ISBN
- Crow, James F., and Arthur P. Mange. "Measurement of Inbreeding from the Frequency of Persons of the Same Surname." Eugenics Quarterly, 12 (1965): 199-203.
- Lasker, Gabriel W. Surnames and Genetic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
- Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1943.
- The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: The Oxford University Press, 1933.
- The World Book Dictionary. Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International, Inc. (A Thorndike-Barnhart Dictionary), 1982.
- Txting: The Gr8 Db8 by David Crystal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 68, 187). ISBN 978-0-19-954490-5
- The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology - Theronym. Accessed 2009-06-08. Archived 2009-06-09.
- Scheetz, George H. "Onomasticon I." Word Ways, 10 (August 1977): 165–67. Enlarged as "An Onomastic Onomasticon."
- ———. "An Onomastic Onomasticon." ANS Bulletin, No. 65 (28 October 1981), pp. 4–7. Revised and enlarged as Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon.
- ———. Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon. (“What’s In a Name?” Chapbook Series; 2.) Sioux City, Ia.: Schütz Verlag, August 1988. The first separately published, comprehensive historical overview of words ending in -onym, including an annotated list of 137 such words.
- Brown, A. F. (1963). Normal and Reverse English Word List 1–8. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
- Herbst, Richard C. (1979). Herbst's Backword Dictionary for Puzzled People. New York: Alamo Publishing Company.
- Lehnert, Martin (1971). Reverse Dictionary of Present-Day English. Leipzig: Verlag Enzyklopädie.
- Laurence Urdang, ed. (1981). -Ologies & -Isms: A Thematic Dictionary (2nd ed.). Detroit: Gale Research Company.
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