Quick Summary

The Greek root word onym means “name.” This root is the word origin of a fair number of English vocabulary words, including synonym and antonym. The root onym is easily recalled through the word anonymous, which refers to someone going around without a “name.”

Not in Name Only!

The root word onym means “name.” Today we will no longer let words like synonym and antonym be without a “name” in your vocabulary!

We have all heard of people who do not want others to know their true names. In order to accomplish this subterfuge, some go about anonymously, or without a “name” in order to keep their true “name” a secret. Yet others, such as authors, will adopt pseudonyms, or false “names,” to keep their true “names” from being known.

Students realize the importance of knowing both synonyms and antonyms for the SAT and GRE. Synonyms have meanings that are the same or similar in “name,” such as “hot” and “scorching,” or “intelligent” and “smart.” Antonyms, on the other hand, have opposite “names,” such as “hot” and “cold,” or “up” and “down.”

The primary identifier of a family is its “name.” The patronymic of a family is the “name” derived from the father, which generally becomes the surname of any of the family’s children. When a baby girl is “named” after her mother, she has received a metronymic.

Now on to two more words that derive from the English root onym meaning “name.” A homonym describes a word whose “name” sounds like another’s but is different in meaning. For instance, the words “dear” as in “precious” and “deer” as in “a four-legged woodland creature with antlers” are homonyms because their “names” sound the same but they have different meanings. An eponym is an imaginary or real person’s “name” put upon a place. An example of an eponym is Europe, whose “name” came from the mythological bull Europa.

Now no longer will the root word onym run around anonymously, having no “name,” since at least you will not be fooled!

  1. anonymous: without a ‘name’
  2. pseudonym: false ‘name’
  3. synonym: word that shares its ‘name’ together with another
  4. antonym: word whose ‘name’ is opposite another
  5. patronymic: the father’s ‘name’
  6. metronymic: the mother’s ‘name’
  7. homonym: word that has the same-sounding ‘name’ as another
  8. eponym: a “name” put upon a place


  • anonymous

    When someone wishes to remain anonymous, they do not reveal their name.

  • pseudonym

    A pseudonym is a fictitious or false name that someone uses, such as an alias or pen name.

  • acronym

    a word formed from the initial letters of the several words in the name

  • anonymity

    the state of being anonymous

  • antonym

    a word that expresses a meaning opposed to the meaning of another word, in which case the two words are antonyms of each other

  • homonym

    two words are homonyms if they are pronounced or spelled the same way but have different meanings

  • metonymy

    substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in `they counted heads')

  • onomatopoeia

    using words that imitate the sound they denote

  • onomatopoetic

    of or relating to or characterized by onomatopoeia

  • patronymic

    of or derived from a personal or family name

  • synonym

    two words that can be interchanged in a context are said to be synonymous relative to that context

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