homonymous was our Word of the Day on 07/05/2014. Hear the podcast!
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The "ambiguous" sense of homonymous refers mainly to words that have two or more meanings. In the 1600s, logicians and scientists who wanted to refer to (or complain about) such equivocal words chose a name for them based on Latin and Greek, from Greek hom- ("same") and onyma ("name"). In time, English speakers came up with another sense of homonymous, referring to two things having the same name (Hawaii, the state, and Hawaii, the island, for example). Next came the use of homonymous to refer to homonyms, such as see and sea. There's also a zoological sense. Sheep and goats whose right horn spirals to the right and left horn spirals to the left are said to be homonymous.
Origin and Etymology of homonymous
Latin homonymus having the same name, from Greek homōnymos, from hom- + onyma, onoma name — more at name
First Known Use: 1621
Medical Definition of homonymous
1: affecting the same part of the visual field of each eye right homonymous hemianopia
2: relating to or being diplopia in which the image that is seen by the right eye is to the right of the image that is seen by the left eye
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