Words for Names of People
Words that include the element nym, and some that include nom, pertain to names and naming. Such terms as anonymous (literally, “without a name”) and pseudonym (“false name”) are ubiquitous, but most others in this class are more or less obscure. This post lists and defines such terms that pertain to individuals and groups of people.
An allonym (“other name”) is the name of one person employed as a pseudonym by one or more other people, as in the case of the name Publius, the non de plume of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, which called back to Publius Valerius Publicola, a founder of the Roman Republic. (“Non de plume” itself, and “nom de guerre,” which mean, respectively, “pen name” and “war name,” are terms adopted from French that are synonyms of pseudonym.)
An anthroponym (“man name”) is a proper name or a surname. (A gamonym is a name acquired as a result of marriage.) Aptronym is a recent coinage playing on apt, denoting a surname coincidentally appropriate to a person’s profession, such as when someone who makes beer is named Brewer.
Autonym (“self name”)—or the synonym endonym, or “inner name”—refers to a term used by inhabitants of a place for that place (or themselves or their language), as in Deutsch, the German term for the German language; German is an exonym (“outer name”). (An ethnonym—”people name”—is a name for an ethnic group.)
A charactonym is a fictitious character’s name that alludes to a quality of that person; literature is replete with such names, including those characterizing combative spouses in the early radio sitcom The Bickersons and the comic strip The Lockhorns.
An eponym (“above name”) is a person, place, or thing after which someone or something is named.
A mononym (“one name”) is a single name, such as Leonardo or Madonna. A patronym (“father name”), or patronymic, is a name based on a male ancestor’s given name, especially those with prefixes and suffixes integrated into surnames, such as Mac- or Mc- or Fitz- in Gaelic, -ez and -es in Spanish and Portuguese, and -son and variants such as -sen in Germanic languages. The female equivalents are matronym/matronymic; such forms are rare (at least in Indo-European languages), though -dottir is used in Icelandic surnames.
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