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A question came up on the OEDILF board that I couldn't answer (not a rare occurence, actually) but it'll probably be child's play over here:

A pair of words that are spelled differently but are pronounced the same are, of course, homonyms. What is the word for their opposites, words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently?

It seems to me that this came up in discussion a while back and that it was pointed out that if often occurs that one of the pair will be a proper noun. The examples "polish/Polish" and "august/August" come to mind.

Thanks much.
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My initial gut feeling is homologue(homolog)?
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Picture of Kalleh
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Tinman, your link doesn't work, but here it is from dictionary.com. Sean, I couldn't find that "homologue" has that meaning. Is there a linguistic meaning to "homologue?"
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tinman's link worked fine for me and an interesting read that site is too. I never knew there were so many -nym words.
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I was going from homo = same, logos = word, but that didn't really capture it. What I was going for was homograph, with graph being writing. A quick google gives me http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsAHomograph.htm

The example given is bow(curtsy), bow(stern), bow(ribbon).

I just guessed homolog because I confused what the Greek word for writing was.
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
Tinman, your link doesn't work, but here it is from dictionary.com.

Here's the link again.
Don't know your acronyms from your antonyms or your aptronyms from your autonyms? Confused about what tautonyms and toponyms are? You'll find them all here, from homonyms and hypernyms to eponyms and exonyms. We will guide you through explanations of each term, with helpful examples. Never again will you be perplexed by patronyms, confused by contronyms (contranyms), baffled by bacronyms, or stumped by synonyms. You won't muddle meronyms, metonyms, and metronyms, nor heteronyms, hyperonyms, and hyponyms. This is the ultimate guide to the –nym words. So, if you don't know what autoantonyms, capitonyms, and oronyms are, or you want to find out more about paronyms, pseudonyms, and retronyms, read on...

Words ending in –nym are often used to describe different classes of words, and the relationships between words. The –nym literally means name, from the Greek onoma meaning name or word. The Nym Dictionary below defines all the common –nym words, and many of the more unusual ones too.

An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a series of words; e.g. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
• From Greek akros (=point, tip).
• Also called protogram, initialism.

Either of a pair of words that have opposite (or near-opposite) meanings; e.g. slow and fast are antonyms of one another, also dead and alive, wife and husband.
• From Greek anti (=against).

Aptronym A person's name that matches it's owner's occupation or character very well (either in fiction or reality); e.g. arctic explorer Will Snow, hairdresser Dan Druff.
• From apt (=suitable); coined by Franklin P. Adams.

A word that can take two (or more) opposite meanings; e.g. fast means "moving quickly" or "fixed firmly in place", overlook means "to watch over carefully" or "to fail to notice".
• From Greek auto (=self) + anti (=against).
• Often hyphenated as auto-antonym.
• Also called contranym, contronym, antilogy, enantiodrome, Janus word.

Autonym 1. A word that describes itself; e.g. noun is a noun, polysyllabic is polysyllabic, abbrv. is an abbreviation, word is a word.
2. A person's real name; the opposite of pseudonym.
3. A name by which a social group or race refers to itself.
• From Greek auto (=self).
• Also called self-referential word.
• Take care not to confuse with antonym, autoantonym.

The reverse of producing an acronym; taking a word which already exists and creating a phrase (usually humorous) using the letters of the word as initials: e.g. Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody (BANANA), Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (GOD).
• From back(wards) + acronym.

A word which changes its meaning and pronunciation when capitalised; e.g. polish and Polish, august and August, concord and Concord.
• From capital letter
Another word for autoantonym.

Another word for autoantonym.

A name from which another name or word is derived; e.g. Romulus giving rise to Rome, the word sandwich coming from the Earl of Sandwich.
• From Greek epo (=on).
• Take care not to confuse with exonym.

A place name used by foreigners that differs from the name used by natives; e.g. Londres is the French exonym for London, Germany is an exonym because Germans call it Deutschland.
• From Greek exo (=outside).
• Take care not to confuse with eponym.

One of two (or more) words that have the same spelling, but different meaning, and sometimes different pronunciation too. (Heteronyms that are pronounced differently are also heterophones.) E.g. sewer, row, entrance, wind. A heteronym is a kind of homonym.
• From Greek hetero (=other).
• Also called heterograph.

One of two (or more) words that have the same pronunciation or spelling, but are different in meaning. (Homonyms which have the same spelling are also heteronyms; homonyms that have the same pronunciation, but different spelling and meaning, are also homophones; and homonyms that have the same spelling but are different in origin, meaning, and pronunciation are also homographs); e.g. sewer, row, write and right, way and weigh.
• From Greek homo (=same).
• Take care when using the following terms as their meanings are easily confusable: homonym, homophone, heteronym, heterophone, homograph, heterograph.

A word that has a more general meaning than another; e.g. in the relationship between chair and furniture, furniture is a hypernym; in the relationship between horse and animal, animal is a hypernym.
• From Greek hyper (=over).
• Also called superordinate term, generic term.
• Take care not to confuse with hyponym.

Another word for hypernym.

A word that has a more specific meaning than another; e.g. in the relationship between chair and furniture, chair is a hyponym; in the relationship between horse and animal, horse is a hyponym.
• From Greek hypo (=under).
• Also called subordinate term.
• Take care not to confuse with hypernym.

1. A word that refers to a part of what another word refers to; e.g. in the relationship between leg and ankle, ankle is a meronym; in the relationship between brim and hat, brim is a meronym.
2. A term midway between two opposites; e.g. flat between convex and concave, present between past and future.
• From Greek meros (=part).
• Take care not to confuse with metonym, metronym.

A word designates something by the name of something associated with it; e.g. the Crown referring to the monarchy, the bottle referring to alcohol, the White House for the US executive branch.
• From Greek meta (=change).
• Take care not to confuse with meronym, metronym.

A name derived from the name of one's mother, or another female ancestor.
• From Greek metros (=mother).
• Take care not to confuse with meronym, metonym.

A string of words which is homophonic with another string of words; e.g. ice cream and I scream, mint spy and mince pie.
• From oral (=spoken).

A word from the same root, and usually a similar pronunciation, as another; e.g. beautiful and beauteous.
• From Greek para (=beside).
• Take care not to confuse with patronym.

A name derived from the name of one's father, or another male ancestor.
• From Greek pater (=father).
• Take care not to confuse with paronym.

An assumed name, especially by an author; e.g. Eric Arthur Blair wrote the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four under the pseudonym George Orwell.
• From Greek pseudo (=false).
• Also called pen name.

An adjective-noun pairing generated by a change in the meaning of the base noun, usually as a result of technological advance; e.g. watch became pocket watch due to introduction of wrist watch, pen became fountain pen due to introduction of ball-point pen.
• From Greek retro (=backward); coined by Frank Mankiewicz.

One of two (or more) words that have the same (or very similar) meaning; e.g. big and large, error and mistake, run and sprint.
• From Greek sun (=together).

1. A word composed of two identical parts; e.g. pawpaw, yo-yo, tutu, bye-bye.
2. In biological nomenclature, a taxonomic name in which the genus and species names are identical; e.g. puffinus puffinus (manx shearwater), apus apus (common swift).
• From Greek taut (=same).

1. A place name; e.g. London, Mount Everest.
2. A word derived from a place name; e.g. champagne from Champagne in France, cashmere from Kashmir in India.
• From Greek topos (=place).

Some other –nym words: allonym, ananym, anonym, caconym, cohyponym, cryptonym, dionym, euonym, euonym, euphonym, isonym, paedonym, paranym, poecilonym, polyonym, teknonym, trionym.

My two cents worth: All acronyms are initialisms, but not all initialisms are acronyms. Many people consider them synonymous, but I don't. An acronym is an initialism that forms a pronounceable word.

One it didn;t mention is troponym: a word that denotes a manner of doing something; "`march' is a troponym of `walk'" [syn: manner name]

Note that heterograph is a synonym for heteronym, as Seananym - oops! Seanahan - said.


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That's exactly what I was looking for and I second Bob Hale's comments. Thanks much, Tinman.
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Sorry about my comment saying that Tinman's link didn't work; it was my computer that didn't work!

I had no idea there were so many nym words, either. Tinman, you have given me a great idea to have a wordcraftjr theme of nym words. Thanks!
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My list on nym word included bacronym, which was coined by Meredith G. Williams, but was apparently soon morphed to backronym. According to Word Spy:
bacronym noun. A reverse acronym: a regular word that also doubles as an acronym. Also: backronym.

Example Citation:

The arrival of coeducation at St. Paul's in 1971 inspired the verb to scope (a foreclipping and conversion of "telescope") and the derived noun scoper, "one who appreciatively ogles the opposite sex." From this process has arisen an unofficial organization named SCOPERS, a reverse acronym, or bacronym, for "Students Concentrating On the Palatable Extremities of the Reciprocal Sex.
—Richard Lederer, Adventures of a Verbivore, 1994

Earliest Citation:

And isn't this last one absolutely great? It's 'bacronym,' and it's the brainchild of Meredith G. Williams of Potomac.

A bacronym, says Meredith, is the 'same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters.' Some examples:

GEORGE — Georgetown Environmentalists Organized against Rats, Garbage and Emissions.

LIBRA, Inc. — Living In the Buff Recreation Associates (now that's a cause that would turn some heads).

And for a mouthful and a half, SURFSIDE — The Small Unified Reactor Facility with Systems for Isotopes, Desalting and Electricity.
—Bob Levey, "When You Can't Decide, You Just Pick Them All," The Washington Post, November 8, 1983

I also opined that an acronym must be a pronounceable word; otherwise it's just an initialism. This site calls them euphonious acronym and initial acronym.
Types of Acronyms and Abbreviations

  • Anacronym - is a backronym that became a replacements of other acronym that have become obsolete acronym and not used anymore.

  • Alphabetism - same as initialism or initial acronym. Also alphabetism may refer to special approach or sometimes discrimination (usually of companies) on the basis that the name is an initialism.

  • Backronyms (same as bacronym) - is a phrase which is constructed backwards from some word (usually initialism).

  • Pure backronym - happens when the original word was not previously or commonly known as an acronym or abbreviation.
    Recursive backronym - a backronym that refers to itself in the expression for which it stands.

  • Replacement backronym - is formed when the original word is an initialism or acronym with different meaning

  • Mnemonic backronym - all of them are Replacement backronyms and are created for the purposes of education.

  • Euphonious acronym - an acronym where letters are added or subtracted to produce a pronounceable word. e.g. lazer (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging)

  • Immigrant acronym - is an acronym where foreign words are adopted into English. e.g. RSVP

  • Initialism - an acronym where each letter stands for a separate word. Each letter is pronounced separatelly.

  • Initial acronym - same as Initialisms.

  • Hybrid acronym - acronym that has the features of both letter acronyms and syllable acronyms. e.g. JPEG or MS-DOS

  • Letter acronym - same as Initial acronym or Initialisms.

  • Nested acronym - an acronym where one of the letters represents another acronym. e.g. AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)

  • Obsolete acronym - an acronym or abbreviation that is not used anymore or has been replaced with a different name

  • Redundant acronym - a phrase of an acronym/abbreviation and a word(s) which make up an acronym as well as the phrase itself, thus in effect repeating the part of acronym twice.

    Typical examples: PIN Number, ATM Machine, VIN number, RAM memory, LCD display, LED diode, ISBN number

    If you have any ideas how this page can be improved, please feel free to contact us.

Here's a word they should know.
nymrod noun. A person who insists on turning every multi-word term into an acronym.

I don't know when nymrod was coined, but it was posted to Word Spy on March 26, 1996.


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