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November 17, 2012

Word of the Day

  • misnomer
  • audio pronunciation
  • \miss-NOH-mer\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
: the misnaming of a person in a legal instrument
2
a : a use of a wrong or inappropriate name b : a wrong name or inappropriate designation
  • EXAMPLES

"International Airport" is something of a misnomer, since almost all of the arriving and departing planes fly short, commuter routes involving no border crossing.

"Can tires transform a two-wheel-drive truck into a winter warrior? That was the question after my new-to-me pickup had sat through its first winter with only so-called all-season tires, a misnomer at best in Canada. All-season tires, of course, bring you the worst of both worlds: they're not ideal in summer and they're far from ideal in winter, too." — From a column by Kelly Taylor in The Chronicle Herald, October 2, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?

What's in a name? Well, in some cases, a name will contain an error, a misunderstanding, or a mislabeling. Historians have long noted that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill. And the Pennsylvania Dutch are actually of German ancestry. For such cases we have the term "misnomer," which comes from the Anglo-French verb "mesnomer" ("to misname") and ultimately from "nomen," the Latin word for "name."

Word Family Quiz: What relative of "misnomer" can refer to an international system of standardized New Latin names used in biology? The answer is ...

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