Printable Version
Pronunciation: -rê-nim Hear it!

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 the Middle Dutch word verrompeld "wrinkled". English borrowed this word, then honed it down to frump. Honestly.

Dr. Goodword,

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