noun mis·no·mer \ ˌmis-ˈnō-mər \
Updated on: 12 May 2018

Definition of misnomer

1 : the misnaming of a person in a legal instrument
2 a : 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.


play \-mərd\ adjective

misnomer was our Word of the Day on 11/17/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of misnomer in a Sentence

  1. “International Airport” is something of a misnomer, since almost all the arriving and departing flights are local.

Recent Examples of misnomer from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of misnomer

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

MISNOMER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of misnomer for English Language Learners

  • : a name that is wrong or not proper or appropriate

Law Dictionary


noun mis·no·mer \ ˌmis-ˈnō-mər \

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.

Origin and Etymology 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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