Printable Version
Pronunciation: æp-trê-nim Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A name reflective of a person's personality, occupation, or other characteristic, like 'Phil Anders', 'Maude Lynn Dresser', and 'Lucinda Head'.

Notes: Here is another grossly misconstructed word that has muscled the correctly spelled and constructed word euonym out of its place in the English lexicon. It comes with all the forms of words ending on -nym: aptronymous, aptronymic, aptronymically, aptronomicity.

In Play: Because of the confusion as to exactly which word to use, I've avoided naming the collection of my aptronyms. Examples of this word are hard to find except in discussions of the word itself: "The term aptronym is thought to have been coined in the early 20th century by the American newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams." Again: "Notable authors who frequently used aptronyms include Charles Dickens (e.g., Mr. Bounderby, the coarse, vain hypocrite in 'Hard Times') and William Shakespeare (e.g., the lost baby Perdita in 'The Winter's Tale')."

Word History: Today's Good Word was joined by the still misconstructed aptonym at about the same time, early 20th century. It replaced the already existing (since the late 19th century) euonym. Even aptonym mixes Latinate apt with Greek -onym. Why the R in aptronym is there, no one knows. Apt was borrowed from Latin aptus "fit, appropriate", past participle of apere "to join, tie to" from PIE ap- "grasp, take, reach", as in Greek aptein "to fasten" and Latin apud "at, near, by". -Onym comes from a dialectal form Greek onoma "name, noun", from PIE no-men- "name", which turned up in Sanskrit as naman, Latin as nomen, German as Name, Dutch as naam, English as name, Russian as imya, imeni, Serbian as ime, imeni, Albanian Tosk dialect emën, Cornish hanow, Welsh enw, and Irish ainm. (Now let's thank Paula Ward, whose name is associated with several excellent Good Words in recent years.)

Dr. Goodword,

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