Linguistic and Anthropological Journeys

Here to answer questions on the fields of Anthopology and Linguistics

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Word Origin of the Week 4: Anonymous
Linguistics Timothy Patrick Snyder Anthr
Anna asks:
It's such a beautiful sounding word. What might the origins of "Anonymous" be?

  Well, this term is rather simple.  It is a reconstruction from Greek words.  It takes the root, "an" which means no, without, and "onoma" which is a Greek word directly related to name.  Together it means "without name" or "nameless" and it was first coined in English in the early 17th century.

There are other words which have "nym" in them, which refer back to the Greek "onoma" meaning name or noun (which in Latin can mean name).  These include acronym, homonym, antonym, synonym, pseudonym, and metonymy.  It has the same Indo-European root that we have for name.  Name however is actually Germanic in origin, with the Old English form, nama.


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