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Sep 19, 2005
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Words about words

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with Anu Garg

Have you discovered the joy of lex? Would you characterize yourself as tending towards heteronyms or homonyms? Or would you just be content being an autonym? Given a choice, would you rather go for a toponym or retronym? Well, I understand if you would rather not share such intimate details of your lexical adventures with just anyone. But remember, no matter what your personal preferences happen to be, always practice safe lex. Do not engage in discourse--whether oral or graphical--with strangers. But don't hesitate to use this week's nyms, words about words, to expand your lexical repertoire.

heteronym: same spelling, different sound and meaning: lead (verb), lead (metal)
homonym: same sound and spelling, different meaning: row (verb), row (noun)
toponym: derived from a place name: Waterloo (a crushing defeat)
retronym: a term coined to distinguish something due to a new development: analog computer, coined because now almost all computers are digital.


Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

autonym (O-tuh-nim) noun

1. A person's own name, as distinguished from a pseudonym.

2. A work published under the real name of the author.

[From auto- (self) + -onym (name).]

"The second half of the book is a comprehensive master list of series characters, listed alphabetically by author autonym. Each entry is followed by the author's pseudonym, series character, and all series titles, chronologically."
Carol Krismann and William M White; Silk Stalkings: More Women Write of Murder; Reference & User Services Quarterly (Chicago, Illinois); Jan 1999.


The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

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