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 And three of the line's goals have been game-winners, clutch contributions that suggest the group's fourth-line categorization might be a misnomer. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Zach Parise, Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm on a productive Wild line," 18 Apr. 2021 The book’s title, however, is a bit of a misnomer, because Cohn has more to cover than merely a single decade. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Jonathan Cohn’s history of Obamacare shows how our political system is broken," 15 Mar. 2021 But German politicians soon realized that was a misnomer, because people could still go outside to exercise, shop for essentials or meet up with another person to go for a walk. Washington Post, "No social distancing — or Mindestabstandsregelung — for words in Germany’s complex pandemic lexicon," 1 Mar. 2021 The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a misnomer. The Editors, National Review, "A Poisonous Police-Reform Bill," 5 Mar. 2021 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

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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Misnomer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misnomer. Accessed 11 May. 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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