Fun with Words- All about “Nyms” of English

Fun with Words- All about “Nyms” of English

In this segment of “Fun with words”, we believe learning the roots of words is important when learning from an online English speaking course in India. Learning new words creates an interest to learn, thereby improving communication skills. Best online English-speaking courses in India as well as globally identify vocabulary as the toughest hurdle in language learning.

Prepping up on English grammar basics, English vocabulary and pronunciations etc is the first step of English language education. Online spoken English classes at time may offer special “crash courses” in English grammar segments. You may find those informative but you can do definitely without them. Read more, learn often. As we have said it before, fluency in English is only possible with regular practice.

What is “Nym”?

When it comes to word roots and origins, the trajectory of the word to its current form is one of the most interesting concepts. As online teacher for English, I regularly encourage students to “break-down” words, focus on enunciations rather than rote learning.

Teaching English online is an excellent method for both students and teachers. Online English classes facilitate all the things you love about being a teacher right to your home.

“Nym” derives from the Greek word for name or word. You all might have heard about these “nyms” somewhere or the other, especially in your English online classes.

The suffix -onym is a bound morpheme, that is attached to the end of a root word, thus forming a new compound word that designates a particular class of names classical compounds, whose word roots are taken from classical languages (Greek and Latin).

Nyms of English:

As an online English tutor, these are most common terms one must know for being proficient in English. Let’s have a look!

  1. Acronym- An abbreviation formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. For Example, ASCII from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, NASA from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  2. Allonym- The name of another person taken by an author as a pen name. For example, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison published “The Federalist Papers” under the allonym Publius, a Roman consul.
  3. Antonym- It is a word that has the exact opposite meaning of another word. For Example, slow and fast are antonyms of one another. Similarly, simple and complicated are antonyms of one another.
  4. Aptronym- A person's name that is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their occupation. It is basically a name that matches the occupation or character of its owner, often in a humorous or ironic way. For Example- Usain "Lightning" Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who is recognised as the world's fastest man.
  5. Bacronym- An acronym deliberately formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word. For Example- SAD ("Seasonal Affective Disorder"). It is actually a backwards acronym- an acronym formed in reverse.
  6. Cryptonym- It is a secret name used to refer to a particular person, place, activity, or thing. For Example- "Rosebud'' and "Radiance", were the code names used by the Secret Service for the daughters of President Obama.
  7. Charactonym- A name especially for a fictional character that suggests a particular trait of the character. For Example, “Long John Silver” for someone who is tall and has silver hair.
  8. Demonym- A word that is used to denote a person who inhabits or is native to a particular place. For Example, people in New York are called as New Yorkers, and in London are called as Londoners, etc.
  9. Endonym- A name used by a group of people to refer to themselves, their language or their region, as opposed to a name given to them by other groups. For example, Deutschland is the German endonym for Germany.
  10. Eponym- A name from which another name or word is derived. For Example- “Romulus” giving rise to Rome, the word “sandwich” originating from the Earl of Sandwich.
  11. Exonym- An exonym is an external name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, or a language/dialect, that is used only outside that particular place. It is usually a name given to something by an outsider. For Example- India is exonym as it was given by foreign invaders.
  12. Heteronym- A word with a similar spelling as another word but has a different pronunciation and meaning. Thus, present (give) and present (gift) are heteronyms. For Example- I present (give) this present (gift) to you.
  13. Homonym- The words having the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings and origins. The word ‘ring’ is a homonym. It has two meanings- To call someone on the phone and A band on a finger. Similarly, the word ‘rose’ is a homonym. It means both to have got up and a type of flower.
  14. Hypernym- It is a word that names that includes other words in that category. For Example- Dog is a hypernym for dachshund, Chihuahua, and poodle. Superhero is a hypernym for Batman and Spider-Man.
  15. Hyponym- A term used to designate a particular member of a broader class. For example, crow, robin, and blackbird are hyponyms that belong to the broad class of bird.
  16. Metonym- A word or expression used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated. For Example- White House is a metonym for the U.S. President and his or her staff.
  17. Mononym- As the name suggests, it is a one-word name or a name consisting of a single word by which a person or thing is popularly known. "Oprah" or "Bono" can be one such example.
  18. Oronym- A word or phrase that sounds very similar to another word or phrase, often as a result of sounds running together. Oronyms are spelt differently and they have different meanings. For Example, ice cream and I scream.
  19. Paronym- They are words that are pronounced or written in a same way but have different lexical meanings. Quote "Gene Derwood's ‘Shelter’:
  20. While people hunt for what can satisfy their wants
    There is a watching and a sharp recording.
    Both seekers and watchers are the palpitants
    And much is said with no deep ferny wording.” Unquote

    'Palpitants' is a paronym for 'palpitate,' as it has been used here metaphorically to convey anxiousness and 'wording' a paronym for 'word' has been used metaphorically for 'meaning’.
  21. Pseudonym- It is usually a fictitious name, especially one used by an author. For Example, Silence Dogood and Richard Saunders were two of the pseudonyms used by Benjamin Franklin.
  22. Retronym- A term that is newly created and adopted to distinguish the original or older version or or concept whose original name has become associated with something else. For Example, electric guitars, giving rise to the term 'acoustic guitar' to set the original form apart from the new invention. Therefore, acoustic guitar is a retronym.
  23. Synonym- A word that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language. For Example- The word happy also means joyful, elated, cheerful etc.
  24. Tautonym- The animal species who have the same name for both genus and species, together create a scientific name known as a tautonym. Examples include the wolverine (Gulo gulo), the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and the moose (Alces alces).
  25. Toponym- A place name (such as Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s) or a word w.r.t the name of a place (such as bikini, a brief bathing suit).

Now, I am sure you know a lot about –Nyms of English. They are often used to describe different classes of words, and the relationships between words. Keep reading, keep using the words!

Related Articles: Oldest English Words | New Words in English dictionary



  • Chridman 10 months ago

    Hi! Excellent presentation of the various "nyms". Very useful. However, as a language teacher you need to be extra-careful when proofing your text. There are a number of typos or syntax errors. 'at time' should be 'at times' 'as we have said it before' should be 'as we have said before' 'somewhere or the other' should be 'somewhere or other' 'India is exonym' should be 'India is an exonym' 'A word with a similar spelling as another word' should be 'A word with a similar spelling to another word' or, better: 'A word with the same spelling as another word' 'The words having' should be 'Words having' 'It is a word that names that includes other words' This is poor.. what do you want to say here? 'A general term for a category' perhaps? 'older version or or concept' should be 'older version or concept' 'The animal species who have the same name for both genus and species, together create a scientific name known as a tautonym' I would rewrite here. How about: 'When an animal is assigned the same name for both genus and species, a tautonym is formed.' Hope this helps! All the best! - Chridman

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