Do You Know Your Nyms?

Is English your first language?woman studying_04

Do you know someone who speaks English as their second language?

If you answered “Yes” to the first question, then you have NO idea how challenging it is to learn, in English, to speak, think, read, work on a computer and do myriad other things.

If you answered “Yes” to the second question, give that person a hug.  Or at least recognize their huge accomplishment in learning a language that sometimes makes nym wordsabsolutely no sense at all.  Even to people who grew up speaking it.

Take, for example, “nym” words.  That is, words ending in nym.  There are more than 50 of them, and good luck sorting them out.

Like ethnonym, “the name of a people or ethnic group.”  Ethnonym is related to, but not to be confused with, demonym, which has nothing to do with demons, and means “a proper noun used to denote the natives or inhabitants of a particular country, state, city, etc.”

Or how about those nym words that identify groups of words:

  • Antonym – a word having a meaning opposite to that of another word; wet is an antonym of dry.guy frustrated_01
  • Heteronym – one of two or more words that have identical spellings but different meanings and pronunciations, such as lead (to conduct) and lead (a metal).
  • Homonym – one of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning such as bank (embankment) and bank (where money is kept).
  • Synonym – a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or words; Romeo has become a synonym for a youthful lover.

Come on, you remember these from grade school grammar, yes?


Then you’ve got anonym, which means the same as pseudonym.  Well, why didn’t you just say that in the first place?

help_04And paronym, defined as “a paronymous word.”  That’s helpful.

How about metonym, “a word used in metonymy.”  Equally helpful.

And apronym, something to wear when you’re making a mess of nym words.

Are you getting numb from nyms?

Then I’ll leave you with hodonym and odonym.  Here’s a clue:  They mean the same thing.

And I gave you the answer earlier.

woman snickering cropped

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