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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Mar 11, 2005 12:50 am

• paronym •

Pronunciation: -rê-nim

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A lexical derivative, a word that is derived from another as catty is derived from cat, and felinity is derived from feline.

Notes: Paronym has several paronyms. The noun is paronymy and the two adjectives are quite similar to those of the other words in this series: paronymous and paronymic. We are disinclined to accept other definitions that have been used in the past. Paronym isn't widely used to mean "cognate", a word that is similar to a word in another language, like English water and German Wasser. It also does not mean two words that are not quite homonyms, like deletion and dilution. Such usage strikes us as misusage by people who need a subscription to our Good Words.

In Play: Keep in mind that inflectional variants are not usually considered paronyms, so that stated and stating are not paronyms of the verb, *to) state, but statement is. A paronym is a different word derived from another, not a different form of the same word: "What is the noun paronym of normal: normality or normalcy?"

Word History: This good word started out as Greek paronymos "derivative", containing para "beside" + onyma "name". We have already examined onyma, so today let's focus on para. This Greek preposition means "beside, alongside" and descends from the PIE root *per- "toward, through, before". It has several paronyms in English: for, fro (as in 'to and fro'), and from. In German and Dutch it turned out as the prefix ver- "completely", an intensive prefix that participates in verrompelt "wrinkled". English borrowed this word, then honed down to frump. Honestly.
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Postby Iterman » Fri Mar 11, 2005 5:35 am

So para is Greek meaning "beside". I gather that this is the para in 'para legal' and 'para medic'. I've always wondered since the most familiar para to me was in 'parachute' , 'parapluie' (umbrella/Fr.) and 'paratonerre' (lightning rod/Fr.) with the approx. meaning of 'against'. Is the later Latin?

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Postby anders » Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:55 am

I always interpreted para as meaning 'opposite, against' etc., thinking for example of parapluie or parasol, and the chemical prefix 'para-', meaning at the opposite position in a ring. If you want to look at several pages of examples of different meanings, try this link.

Tonerre is French for 'thunder', Latin: tonitrus.
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Postby Apoclima » Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:30 pm


Etymology: French, from Old Italian parasole, from parare to shield + sole sun, from Latin sol -- more at PARAPET, SOLAR
: a lightweight umbrella used as a sunshade especially by women

I always thought of these as two different prefixes, one from Latin "for use against" like parachute, and parasol, (and 'paraguas' in Spanish) and the Greek one meaning "along side" and "along with" (paraphernalia).

prefix meaning "alongside, beyond, altered, contrary," from Gk. para- from para (prep.) "beside, near, from, against, contrary to," cognate with Skt. para "beyond;" Hitt. para "on, forth;" L. pro "before, for, in favor of," per- "through;" Goth. faur "along;" O.E. for- "off, away"


But, I see the meaning of the Greek root can be "contrary" as anders was thinking:

1540, from L. paradoxum "paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true," from Gk. paradoxon, from neut. of adj. paradoxos "contrary to expectation, incredible," from para- "contrary to" + doxa "opinion."

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