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:
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!