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A.Word.A.Day--agnomen

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: a medley of words.

agnomen (ag-NO-men) noun, plural agnomina

A nickname.

[From Latin ag- (a variant of ad- : additional) + nomen (name).]

In ancient Rome, names of people typically had three parts: praenomen (given name), nomen (name of the clan), and cognomen (family name). Example: Gaius Julius Caesar. Sometimes, an additional fourth name, agnomen, was given to honor an achievement. These names were not substitutes for the real name, rather they were used in addition. Also, they were not inherited. Example: Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, given to mark his victories in Africa.

An example of a modern agnomen is "Teflon" Reagan. Lion is a popular agnomen.

-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

"[Richard] is imprisoned on his return by the German emperor, and earns the agnomen 'Lion-Hearted' by tearing out the heart of a lion sent to devour him." Paul Beekman Taylor; Sir Orfeo and the Minstrel King; ANQ, American Notes & Queries (St. Louis, Missouri); Winter 2000.

X-Bonus

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results. -Milton Friedman, economist, Nobel laureate (1912- )

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