Last updated

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 linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. Named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that would later take their name, England, both names ultimately deriving from the Anglia peninsula in the Baltic Sea. It is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent Latin and French.

In linguistics, a word is the smallest element that can be uttered in isolation with objective or practical meaning.


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 ).

An ananym is a word whose spelling is derived by reversing the spelling of another word. It is therefore a special type of anagram. There is a long history of names being coined as ananyms of existing words or names for entities related to the thing named by the ananym.

A neologism describes a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often driven by changes in culture and technology, and may be directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. In the process of language formation, neologisms are more mature than protologisms.

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.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Aeolic Greek dialect

In linguistics, Aeolic Greek is the set of dialects of Ancient Greek spoken mainly in Boeotia ; Thessaly, in the Aegean island of Lesbos; and the Greek colonies of Aeolis in Anatolia and adjoining islands.

A bahuvrihi compound is a type of compound that denotes a referent by specifying a certain characteristic or quality the referent possesses. A bahuvrihi is exocentric, so that the compound is not a hyponym of its head. For instance, a sabretooth (smil-odon) is neither a sabre nor a tooth, but a feline with sabre-like teeth.

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.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation may be referred to as "Lusophone" in both English and Portuguese.

According to a 1988 study [1] 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.

A nonce word is a lexeme created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication.

Words that end in -onym

An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation from the initial components of a phrase or a word, usually individual letters and sometimes syllables.

NATO Intergovernmental military alliance of Western states

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

Anachronism chronological inconsistency

An anachronism is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. The most common type of anachronism is an object misplaced in time, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a plant or animal, a custom, or anything else associated with a particular period in time that is placed outside its proper temporal domain.


  1. Scheetz, Names' Names, p. 1
  2. Oxford English Dictionary (1972), "caconym, n."
  3. 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
  4. Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon by George H. Scheetz (Sioux City: Schütz Verlag, 1988) No ISBN
  5. 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.
  6. Lasker, Gabriel W. Surnames and Genetic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  7. Oxford English Dictionary (2005), "paedonymic, n."
  8. Txting: The Gr8 Db8 by David Crystal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 68, 187). ISBN   978-0-19-954490-5
  9. The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology - Theronym. Accessed 2009-06-08. Archived 2009-06-09.

Related Research Articles

A generalization is the formulation of general concepts from specific instances by abstracting common properties. Generalizations posit the existence of a domain or set of elements, as well as one or more common characteristics shared by those elements. As such, they are the essential basis of all valid deductive inferences. The process of verification is necessary to determine whether a generalization holds true for any given situation.

A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix un- is added to the word happy, it creates the word unhappy. Particularly in the study of languages, a prefix is also called a preformative, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed.

WordNet computational lexicon of English

WordNet is a lexical database for the English language. It groups English words into sets of synonyms called synsets, provides short definitions and usage examples, and records a number of relations among these synonym sets or their members. WordNet can thus be seen as a combination of dictionary and thesaurus. While it is accessible to human users via a web browser, its primary use is in automatic text analysis and artificial intelligence applications. The database and software tools have been released under a BSD style license and are freely available for download from the WordNet website. Both the lexicographic data and the compiler for producing the distributed database are available.

Binomial nomenclature, also called binominal nomenclature or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages. Such a name is called a binomial name, a binomen, binominal name or a scientific name; more informally it is also called a Latin name. The first part of the name – the generic name – identifies the genus to which the species belongs, while the second part – the specific name or specific epithet – identifies the species within the genus. For example, humans belong to the genus Homo and within this genus to the species Homo sapiens. Tyrannosaurus rex is probably the most widely known binomial. The formal introduction of this system of naming species is credited to Carl Linnaeus, effectively beginning with his work Species Plantarum in 1753. But Gaspard Bauhin, in as early as 1623, had introduced in his book Pinax theatri botanici many names of genera that were later adopted by Linnaeus.

Synonym word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language

A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another lexeme in the same language. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. For example, the words begin, start, commence, and initiate are all synonyms of one another. Words are typically synonymous in one particular sense: for example, long and extended in the context long time or extended time are synonymous, but long cannot be used in the phrase extended family. Synonyms with the exact same meaning share a seme or denotational sememe, whereas those with inexactly similar meanings share a broader denotational or connotational sememe and thus overlap within a semantic field. The former are sometimes called cognitive synonyms and the latter, near-synonyms, plesionyms or poecilonyms.

Morphological derivation, in linguistics, is the process of forming a new word from an existing word, often by adding a prefix or suffix, such as -ness or un-. For example, happiness and unhappy derive from the root word happy.

In linguistics, homonyms, broadly defined, are words which sound alike or are spelled alike, but have different meanings. A more restrictive definition sees homonyms as words that are simultaneously homographs and homophones – that is to say they have identical pronunciation and spelling, whilst maintaining different meanings. The relationship between a set of homonyms is called homonymy. Examples of homonyms are the pair stalk and stalk and the pair left and left. A distinction is sometimes made between true homonyms, which are unrelated in origin, such as skate and skate, and polysemous homonyms, or polysemes, which have a shared origin, such as mouth and mouth.

Homograph word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning

A homograph is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also sound different, while the Oxford English Dictionary says that the words should also be of "different origin". In this vein, The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography lists various types of homographs, including those in which the words are discriminated by being in a different word class, such as hit, the verb to strike, and hit the noun a blow.

Hyponymy and hypernymy A set of semantic relations involving the type-of property

In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is included within that of another word, its hyperonym or hypernym. In simpler terms, a hyponym is in a type-of relationship with its hypernym. For example, pigeon, crow, eagle and seagull are all hyponyms of bird ; which, in turn, is a hyponym of animal.

Oromo language Afroasiatic language

Oromo is an Afroasiatic macrolanguage which is primarily composed of four distinct languages: Southern Oromo which includes the Gabra and Sakuye dialects, Eastern Oromo, Orma which includes the Munyo, Orma, Waata/Sanye dialects, and West–Central Oromo. Like Arabic, Oromo is a dialect continuum so language varieties spoken in neighbouring regions differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties are not mutually intelligible.

A capitonym is a word that changes its meaning when it is capitalized; the capitalization usually applies due to one form being a proper noun or eponym. It is a portmanteau of the word capital with the suffix -onym. A capitonym is a form of homograph and – when the two forms are pronounced differently – is also a form of heteronym. In situations where both words should be capitalized, there will be nothing to distinguish between them except the context in which they are used.

Spanish nouns Grammatical feature of Spanish

The Spanish language has nouns that express concrete objects, groups and classes of objects, qualities, feelings and other abstractions. All nouns have a conventional grammatical gender. Countable nouns inflect for number. However, the division between uncountable and countable nouns is more ambiguous than in English.

A referent is a person or thing to which a name – a linguistic expression or other symbol – refers. For example, in the sentence Mary saw me, the referent of the word Mary is the particular person called Mary who is being spoken of, while the referent of the word me is the person uttering the sentence.

Heteronym (linguistics) a word that is written identically but has a different pronunciation and meaning

A heteronym is a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning from another word but the same spelling. These are homographs that are not homophones. Thus, row and row (argument) are heteronyms, but mean (intend) and mean (average) are not. Heteronym pronunciation may vary in vowel realisation, in stress pattern, or in other ways.

The roots of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) are basic parts of words that carry a lexical meaning, so-called morphemes. PIE roots usually have verbal meaning like "eat" or "run". Roots never occur alone in the language. Complete inflected words like verbs, nouns or adjectives are formed by adding further morphemes to a root.

In biodiversity informatics, a chresonym is the cited use of a taxon name, usually a species name, within a publication. The term is derived from the Greek χρῆσις chresis meaning "a use" and refers to published usage of a name.

Automatic taxonomy construction (ATC) is the use of software programs to generate taxonomical classifications from a body of texts called a corpus. ATC is a branch of natural language processing, which in turn is a branch of artificial intelligence.

Paronyms are words that are pronounced or written in a similar way but which have different lexical meanings. Paronyms contrast with homonyms, which are words with different meaning having the same pronunciation or spelling. Examples of paronyms include:


Further reading