mis·​no·​mer | \ ˌmis-ˈnō-mər How to pronounce misnomer (audio) \

Definition of misnomer

1 : the misnaming of a person in a legal instrument
2a : a use of a wrong or inappropriate name Nowadays it is a misnomer to call a farmer a peasant.
b : a wrong name or inappropriate designation The name "Greenland" is a misnomer, since much of the island is covered by a massive ice sheet.

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Other Words from misnomer

misnomered \ ˌmis-​ˈnō-​mərd How to pronounce misnomer (audio) \ adjective

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 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."

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 Though the phenomenon is called a planetary nebula, the term is a misnomer. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, "Unrivaled View of Brilliant ‘Planetary Nebula’ NGC 2899," 15 Jan. 2021 This is a misnomer, since the -lith part of monolith means stone—this thing is metal. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Why We Love the Monolith," 3 Dec. 2020 Truthfully, the name itself is a bit of a misnomer. Julie Ricevuto, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: How to Use the 7 Types of Shampoo," 25 Nov. 2020 What’s alarming to national Republicans is that the awkwardness in Georgia may only offer a preview of what the party might confront during the post-Trump era, which itself may be a misnomer. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "In Georgia, a Republican Feud With Trump at the Center," 17 Nov. 2020 Technically, the term is a misnomer, because the astronauts remain in Earth's orbit and under its gravitational pull. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Well Look Who Hitched a Ride on SpaceX's Crew Dragon: Baby Yoda," 16 Nov. 2020 But the march itself was a misnomer — nowhere near a million mask-less Trump supporters gathered in the midst of a global pandemic to shamelessly promote their allegiance to a lame duck president. Danielle Campoamor, refinery29.com, "Every Lie Republicans Told About The Million MAGA March," 16 Nov. 2020 The guidance counselor dispelled a common misnomer associated with a diversity effort that requires minority participants. John Benson, cleveland, "Hillside Middle School students all in to explore diversity and acceptance with ‘Embrace All’ program," 12 Nov. 2020 Beachie Creek may be something of a misnomer for the fires that hopscotched through communities in the Santiam Canyon and destroyed nearly 500 homes. oregonlive, "Linn County sues Forest Service over firefighting records on Beachie Creek," 7 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misnomer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of misnomer

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for misnomer

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

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

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Last Updated

6 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Misnomer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misnomer. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for misnomer



English Language Learners Definition of misnomer

: a name that is wrong or not proper or appropriate


mis·​no·​mer | \ ˌmis-ˈnō-mər How to pronounce misnomer (audio) \

Legal Definition of misnomer

: 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.

History and Etymology for 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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Nglish: Translation of misnomer for Spanish Speakers

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