Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: polyonymous \pah-lee-ON-uh-muss\
: having or known by various names

"Polyonymous" comes to us from Greek. The "poly-" part means "many," and the "-onymous" part derives from the Greek word "onoma" or "onyma," meaning "name" — so a reasonable translation of "polyonymous" is, in fact, "having many names." There are a number of other descendants of "onoma" or "onyma" in English, including "anonymous" ("having no name"), "pseudonym" ("false name"), "eponym" (someone who lends their name to something, or a word that comes from someone's name), and "patronymic" (a name taken from one's father). Even "name" itself is derived from the same ancient word that gave rise to the Greek "onyma," making it a distant cousin of all these name-related words.

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