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Definition: Known by one name.

Pronunciation: Mon-on-ee-muss


Mononymous is derived from the Greek word mono (meaning one), plus –onym (Greek, derived from the word onuma for name) and with the –ous derived from Latin adjectival endings.

Why this word?

America is a society which tends to elevate the people we deem worthy of fame to great heights. That fame is often accompanied by an inundation of information about these people, details from major to minor. Yet many details go overlooked after a certain period of time, such as a last name. Beyonce, Madonna, Jay-Z, Prince, Bono, Cher, Moby, Sting, Adele, Rihanna, Fabio, Coolio, Common, Eminem, Pink, and Shakira are all examples of people known only by one name. The longer they are known by a single moniker, the less likely that the general public will remember any other title for them.

Being surrounded by this phenomenon, with is screaming at us from magazines at the supermarket checkout to news headlines, it is nice to be able to give a name, so to speak, to the practice of using only one name.

How to use the word mononymous?

“The parade of mononymous celebrities is becoming rather tiresome.”
“From this day forward I will no longer answer to my full name but instead will become mononymous in an attempt to emulate my favorite celebrities.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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