Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-non-ê-mês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Of unknown authorship or origin 2. Not named or otherwise identified, unrecognized, as for reasons of confidentiality. 3. Having no distinctive features, unremarkable, nondescript.

Notes: The adverb for this word is anonymously and the noun is anonymity ([æn-ê-nim-ê-ti]). To make a thing anonymous, we might anonymize it. Back in the late 19th century a petty, anonymous writer might be called an anonymuncule. I suppose we could call one that today.

In Play: We have plenty of good reasons to remain anonymous, but there are some bad ones, too: "Vote tabulators around the country are receiving anonymous death threats today." The most famous alcoholic rehabilitation society is known as 'Alcoholics Anonymous'. We find the third meaning in sentences like this: "Luke Warme lives in an anonymous, nondescript house on Whereabouts Street."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from Late Latin anonymus, which Latin copied from Greek anonymos "without a name". The Greeks created their word from a(n)- "without" + onyma, a variant of onoma "name". The origin of a(n)- has been explained elsewhere. Greek onoma was created from PIE no-men- "name", source of Latin nomen "name", English name, Swedish namn, Icelandic nafn, and German Name. It also came up in Sanskrit as nama "name", Armenian anun "name", Irish ainm "name", Russian imya, imeni "name", Serbian ime, imeni "name", Hindi naam "name", and Bangla, Gujarati and Punjabi nama "name". (Now let's all join together to thank newcomer Maureen Kaplow for suggesting today's superficially anonymous Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!