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Antonomasia

Definition: The substitution of a title or epithet in place of a proper name or common noun; examples include saying “Kleenex” to refer to all paper tissues, or saying “Your Highness” instead of a monarch’s given name.

Pronunciation: an-ton-noh-MAY-zha

Origin:

Latinate form of the Greek term “antonomazein”, meaning “to name instead”; derived from the Greek prefix “anti-” added to the morpheme “onomazein” (mean. “to name”). And, even further, the term “onomazein” is derived from the Indo-European roots “nomen”, and “onoma”: “name”.

Why this word?

This is one of those terms that almost everyone already knows the intention and usage of, but might not know there’s a specific word to encompass the many meanings.

I mean, how many times has someone asked for “a Kleenex” or “a coke” even though they don’t care whether or not they receive a name-brand Kleenex tissue, or a Coca-Cola brand brown soda.

How would you use this word in a sentence?

Example: “The anatomasia for the king today was ‘Your Majesty’; tomorrow, however, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he asked to be called ‘Lord Brownfoot’, or ‘Destructor’.”

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Written by Veronica Jacobs

Veronica Jacobs is a fiction writer, blogger, academic editor, and sci-fi enthusiast. Currently working freelance (with a background in English Literature), she spends most of her time writing.

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