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QUIZ: How well do you know your -nyms?

Do you fancy yourself to be a grammarian extraordinaire? Prove it and take THIS QUIZ! Alexander Humez is offering the opportunity to dazzle your friends and confound your enemies with a test of your –nym knowledge. The test consists of a list of ten words, each beginning with the letter k, each serving as an example of a –nym that you are asked to identify from a set of choices. Immediate feedback is provided for each choice, and you can display your final score when you’re done.

Humez is the co-author of Short Cuts: A Guide to Oaths, Ring Tones, Ransom Notes, Famous Last Words, and Other Forms of Minimalist Communication with his brother, Nicholas Humez, and Rob Flynn. The Humez brothers also collaborated on Latin for People, Alpha to Omega, A B C Et Cetera, Zero to Lazy Eight (with Joseph Maguire), and On the Dot. In the article below (originally from the Short Cuts Blog), Alexander Humez shares more about the -nym suffix.

By Alexander Humez


Words such as acronym, pseudonym, and toponym that  end in –nym refer to the name (Aeolian Greek ónyma = Attic ónoma ‘name’) by which something or someone is known: a toponym is the name of a place (tópos ‘place, spot’), a pseudonym is a fake name (pseûdos ‘false(hood)’), and an acronym is something known by its initial letters or syllables (ákros ‘outermost, top’). In 1963, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense, A. F. Brown published Normal and Reverse English Word List, a culling of the headwords from a handful of bulky technical and “general use” dictionaries. (See here for the list of dictionaries.) The culled words appear first in alphabetical order and then in reverse alphabetical order—words ending in –a first, then those ending in -b, and so on, from a (the indefinite article) to bruzz (a kind of woodworker’s chisel).

While the Department of Defense’s interest in funding the work was presumably for its use as a tool in cryptographic analysis, others among us treasure especially the reverse word list for wealth of sociolinguistic information that can be teased out of it, the names for which we have names being just one. (The list of words ending in -phobia and the words ending in –man, -woman, -boy, and –girl are perhaps particularly telling.)

Brown’s original list of –nyms is as follows:

ANANYM
METANYM
BASINYM
ONYM
DIONYM
TRIONYM
POECILONYM
ALLONYM
HOMONYM
ANONYM
ORGANONYM
SYNONYM
EPONYM
TOPONYM
HYPONYM
TYPONYM
PARONYM
ACRONYM
SIDERONYM
HETERONYM
CHIRONYM
PATRONYM
NEURONYM
ISONYM
METONYM
ANTONYM
PROTONYM
CRYPTONYM
AUTONYM
TAUTONYM
EUONYM
POLYONYM

For a more recent (and annotated) list, see http://www.wordnik.com/lists/list-of-onyms.

Now do you feel prepared? Take the QUIZ now!

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3 Responses to “QUIZ: How well do you know your -nyms?”
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lazygal, Lauren, Lauren, Lauren, Phi Beta Kappa and others. Phi Beta Kappa said: This is pretty difficult, but Latin and Greek help! From @OUPBlogUSA QUIZ: How well do you know your -nyms? http://bit.ly/9rHNiC [...]

  2. The Word Guy says:

    As I get older, I come across more and more life examples that reinforce either (a) how little I know or (b) how little I remember. This wonderful list is yet another confirming instance. I “knew” about 10%, “recalled” another 5% after seeing them, and found the rest to be either totally new or totally expunged from my memory – assuming they were ever there in the first place.

    By the time I’m on my death bed, I suspect I’ll reach the ultimate conclusion that I do, in fact, know nothing whatsoever, and that my disappearance from the world will have zero impact on the cosmos – apart from the short-term distress visited on my immediate friends and family who, in the grand scheme of the universe, statistically count as nothing.

    I look forward to more of these soul-destroying quizzes that remind me of my mortality, inadequacy, and lack of intellect. Now, where’s my mind-numbing bottle of 18-year-old Glenlivet single malt… ;)

  3. [...] Alexander Humez is the co-author of Short Cuts: A Guide to Oaths, Ring Tones, Ransom Notes, Famous Last Words, and Other Forms of Minimalist Communication with his brother, Nicholas Humez, and Rob Flynn. The Humez brothers also collaborated on Latin for People, Alpha to Omega, A B C Et Cetera, Zero to Lazy Eight (with Joseph Maguire), and On the Dot. Click here to take the -nym quiz from Humez’s previous blog post. [...]

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