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 misnomered (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

Categorizing excess as toxins, Dr. Mysore says, is a misnomer. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Detox Diets Aren't Real or Healthy — and Body "Toxins" Don't Exist," 1 Jan. 2019 Despite its somewhat misnomer of a name, the actual White River doesn’t even run through Oklahoma (see Arkansas and Missouri). Jeff Martin, Bon Appetit, "White River Fish Market Is a Feast of Fresh Seafood in a Landlocked State," 6 June 2018 But the notion that officials have more than $11 billion to play with is something of a misnomer. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF’s budget soars by $937 million and will top $11 billion for first time," 30 May 2018 This year's A Night for Guy is a bit of a misnomer. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Remembering Guy Clark - over two nights," 9 May 2018 And while co-op is short for cooperative, that can be a misnomer. New York Times, "Diary of a New York Co-op Board President," 27 Apr. 2018 At this juncture, Autopilot is a misnomer, as many others have observed. James B. Stewart, New York Times, "With Tesla in a Danger Zone, Can Model 3 Carry It to Safety?," 5 Apr. 2018 Such appropriation is a misnomer; interaction and transformation are what really take place. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World’ Review: A Cross-Cultural Journey Begins," 31 Mar. 2018 Can’t Help Myself’’ is a misnomer because Goldstein most certainly, with humor and feeling, does. Caroline Leavitt, BostonGlobe.com, "A memoir from the Love Letters columnist is more than just an origin story," 30 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for misnomer

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

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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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Spanish Central: Translation of misnomer

Nglish: Translation of misnomer for Spanish Speakers

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a secret plot to overthrow a government

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