mis·​no·​mer ˌmis-ˈnō-mər How to pronounce misnomer (audio)
: the misnaming of a person in a legal instrument
: a use of a wrong or inappropriate name
Nowadays it is a misnomer to call a farmer a peasant.
: a wrong name or inappropriate designation
The name "Greenland" is a misnomer, since much of the island is covered by a massive ice sheet.
misnomered adjective

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Don't Mistake the Meaning of Misnomer

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 not holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed’s Hill. And the Pennsylvania Dutch are in fact of German ancestry. For such cases, we have the term misnomer, which can refer both to the use of an incorrect or inappropriate designation (as in “it’s a misnomer to call an orca a ‘killer whale’”) or to the designation itself. Regardless, there’s no mistaking the source of misnomer: it comes from the Anglo-French verb mesnomer (“to misname”) and ultimately has its roots in nomen, the Latin word for “name.”

Examples of misnomer in a Sentence

“International Airport” is something of a misnomer, since almost all the arriving and departing flights are local.
Recent Examples on the Web While Day of the Dead is technically one day, Mercado notes that the name of the holiday is a bit of a misnomer. Samantha Leal, refinery29.com, 1 Nov. 2023 The moniker feels like something of a misnomer, however. John Vorwald, Robb Report, 23 Oct. 2023 The smart money is on the guys sticking together this time, as the album title is a misnomer. Bobby Olivier, SPIN, 20 Oct. 2023 Climate change has nonetheless led to a renaissance in the mini-field of glacial archaeology, which is something of a misnomer. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 18 Sep. 2023 It's long been a misnomer when independents are conflated with swing voters. Anthony Salvanto, CBS News, 17 Sep. 2023 And that's not battery efficiency -- battery efficiency is a misnomer. Morgan Korn, ABC News, 3 Sep. 2023 Kids’ club is a bit of a misnomer for a place that is more like a school. Hannah Seligson, Travel + Leisure, 25 Aug. 2023 But Annie Dean, VP of Team Anywhere at Atlassian and Meta’s former director of remote work, told Fortune the whole idea is a misnomer. Jane Thier, Fortune, 3 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'misnomer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English misnoumer, from Anglo-French mesnomer, from mes- mis- + nomer to name, from Latin nominare — more at nominate

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of misnomer was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near misnomer

Cite this Entry

“Misnomer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misnomer. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


mis·​no·​mer (ˈ)mis-ˈnō-mər How to pronounce misnomer (audio)
: a wrong or unsuitable name

Legal Definition


mis·​no·​mer ˌmis-ˈnō-mər How to pronounce misnomer (audio)
: the misnaming of a person in a legal document or proceeding (as in a complaint or indictment)
specifically : the institution of proceedings against and service of process on the correct party using the incorrect name compare idem sonans

Note: Amendment of the pleadings is generally allowed in cases of misnomer.


Anglo-French mesnomer, from mesnomer to misname, from Middle French mes- wrongly + nommer to name, from Latin nominare, from nomin- nomen name

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