12 Words That End in -nym

By Maeve Maddox

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Most of us are probably familiar with these -nym words:

synonym
a word that means the same as another word: little/small

antonym
a word that means the opposite of another word: little/big

homonym
a word that has the same sound as another word, but differs in meaning:
horde/hoard

acronym
a word formed from the initials of a compound term or series of words: NATO, RADAR

retronym
a term coined to distinguish the original referent from a later development: cloth diaper, landline, paper notebook, book book.
More about retronyms

heteronym A word having the same spelling as another, but a different sound and meaning: bass (fish); bass (stringed instrument).

The suffix –nym is from a Greek word meaning name. It is combined with other Greek elements to create nouns that stand for different kinds of names.

Among the more familiar –nym words is pseudonym, the most usual term for an assumed name, especially one assumed by an author. Three additional terms exist for specific types of pseudonym:

allonym
The name of another person which has been assumed by the actual author of a work. Forgers create allonyms when they attach someone else’s name to a book.

In modern times, fiction writers may create an allonym as a transparent literary device. For example, in her preface to The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie King disclaims authorship, attributing it rather to her protagonist, Mary Russell.

anonym
This term denotes a person rather than a type of naming word. An anonym is a person whose name is not given, who remains nameless. The “unamed sources” in news stories are anonyms, as are the people whose names have been changed for their protection in books or articles about sensitive subjects.

cryptonym
This is a type of pseudonym or code name., especially one given to a spy or to a clandestine operation. Some of the names given by the Secret Service to members of presidential families are code names, but not cryptograms. Harry S Truman’s code name was General. Bess Truman’s was Sunnyside. Edith Wilson’s was Grandma.

A true cryptonym will not imply anything about the person, such as age, gender or appearance. CIA code names are made up of a two-letter digraph representing a location and a dictionary word. For example, in code names that have been revealed and are no longer active, one of the digraphs, LI,stood for Mexico City. LICOZY was an agent active there, and LICOBRA was an operation.

Relationships like the one between the word pseudonym and its different kinds have two –nym words to describe them.

hyponym is the state or phenomenon that shows the relationship between more general term and the more specific instances for it

hypernym
a word that denotes a broad category that includes more specific words

Red, blue, green, and yellow, for example, are all colors. In this case, the word color is the hypernym and the colors red, blue, green, etc., are the hyponyms. In turn, the colors themselves can be seen as hypernyms. For example, green has various shades: lime, chartreuse, Kelly green, etc. Green is a hyponym to color. Chartreuse is a hyponym to green.

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