Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29: Words for Words Day

On this date in 1997, 13 year-old Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York won the National Spelling Bee.   The winning word was euonym, which means “a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named.”  


The Greek suffix –onym meaning “name or word” is found in many words that identify categories of words.  In short, these words ending in –onym are “words for words.”

Acronym:  Words made up of the initials of other words, such as NASA or SCUBA.

Antonym:  Words with the opposite meaning, such as love and hate.

Capitonym:  Words that change pronunciation and meaning when capitalized, such as august or nice.

Contronym:  Words that are their own antonyms, such as bolt or weather.

Eponym:  Words derived from proper names, such as quixotic, which derived from the literary character Don Quixote.

Heteronym:  Words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciations, such as produce and entrance.

Pseudonym:  A pen name, such as Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens.

Retronym:  An adjective-noun pairing that evolves because of a change in the noun's meaning, such as acoustic guitar.  The adjective acoustic became necessary with the development of the electric guitar.

Synonym:  Words with same, or nearly the same, meaning, such as buy and purchase.

Today's Challenge:  You don't need the suffix -onym to categorize words.  Grab a dictionary and create your own categorized word lists.  For inspiration, visit My, which has nearly 500 word lists.

Quote of the Day:  A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.
 -Baltasar Gracian

1 comment:

Ed @ Lexicolatry said...

Two of my favourites are ANACRONYM (an acronym in which the majority of people have forgotten what the constituent letters stand for, like laser) and BACKRONYM (a word that was retrospectively made into an acronym).

I also wrote a post in which I suggested that BANACRONYM (an acronym that becomes an anacronym that becomes a backronym) should be one.

Well it should : o )