I always assumed there are four, but nope, there are more. Many, many more!
Today’s letter is a short one but it’s about an English language concept that I learned about recently that I found fascinating and it made me think, how we take the existence of some words for granted.
If I think back to English language classes in school, I remember learning about two types of _nym words: the synonym and the antonym.
As my vocabulary grew, I became aware of two more _nym words: the pseudonym and the acronym.
And that was that. Never thought about the origin of these words, noe whether more of these types of words existed.
That is, until recently.
I read this fantastic article about the dilemma of music artists today. The Ubiquity Paradox: do far more of this but also do a lot less of that - Music Business Worldwide
In summary, music artists face two choices today; they could join the arms race of uploading more and more music to streaming platforms (there are more than 60,000 new music tracks being uploaded to digital streaming platforms everyday!); or stay away from the race to maintain exclusivity around their music but lose out on the minuscule royalties and risk becoming irrelevant.
The writer opened the article with this description of the word contronym to describe this situation.
That’s what got me thinking. I was surprised to discover that there was a fifth pandava! The contronym.
While synonyms are words that have similar meanings and antonyms are words that have opposite meanings, a contronym is a word that can itself have two meanings!
Let me illustrate with an example. The word “Sanction” can mean to approve something. My application to obtain a driving license has been sanctioned.
But the same word can also mean something completely opposite. For e.g., United States has placed sanctions on trade with Iran.
Here is another one “Left”. The first meaning can be “leave”. E.g. I left school early today. Another example, how many people are left in school today.
I did not know about contronyms but I was fascinated to learn about them and so could not wait to share it with all of you.
And I was about to hit send on the email but then I thought, are there just five _nyms or more?
Well, there are! All 46 of them!!
Yes there are 46 varieties of nym words, as per this site.
There could be more but 46 is plenty for me for now! And as far the origin of Nyms, here is an excellent description from the site:
“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.”
One more _nym word in the list of 46 that I found fascinating and funny: the Aptronym.
The Aptronym describes a person’s name that matches their occupation. For e.g. someone who explores the arctic is called “Will Snow” or someone who works as a hairdresser is called “Dan Druff” or someone selling sweets in India can name themselves “Hal Wai”!
I don’t have more research on this one but I have a feeling that back in history that is how names were given.
Now you know that there are 46 of these fascinating _nym words that you could use to identify word pairs.
So which _nym was your favorite in the list?