My goal to learn something new every day
Last week, I wrote about some everyday words that I never knew were acronyms or initialisms at first. In looking for information for that post, I tried without success to find out what such words are called. But today, I came across the word just by luck. A word that is used without most people knowing that it was initially an acronym is called an anacronym.
Anyone who does the Delta module 1 exam, will undoubtedly have come across quite a few nyms, such as hypernyms, hyponyms, meronyms and of course the more common synonyms and antonyms. But it got me thinking, I wonder what other nyms there are that I’ve never heard of. Here are three that I found interesting.
Capitonyms are words that change meaning depending on whether the first letter is capitalised or not. Pairs of words typically consist of a proper noun and common noun, such as ‘March’ and ‘march’, ‘Mum’ (as in my Mum) and ‘mum’ (as in everyone’s mum), and Welsh and welsh. This last uncapitalised use of welsh I didn’t know. The meaning of welsh (as opposed to Welsh for the people of Wales) means “fail[ing] to honour (a debt or obligation incurred through a promise or agreement)“.
Auto-antonyms or contronyms are homographs, i.e. two different words with the same spelling, that are antonyms of one another in different contexts. For example, the verb ‘dust’ can mean both to remove dust and add dust at the same time. And ‘rent’ can mean both to borrow and lend. Also, depending on your view of it, ‘literally’ could also be seen as a contronym.
A troponym is “a verb that indicates more precisely the manner of doing something by replacing a verb of a more generalized meaning.” For example, stroll, ramble and saunter are all troponyms of walk.
These are the four that I learned today. What’s your favourite nym?