on·​o·​mas·​tics | \ ˌä-nə-ˈma-stiks How to pronounce onomastics (audio) \

Definition of onomastics

1a : the science or study of the origins and forms of words especially as used in a specialized field
b : the science or study of the origin and forms of proper names of persons or places
2 : the system underlying the formation and use of words especially for proper names or of words used in a specialized field

Other Words from onomastics

onomastician \ ˌä-​nə-​ma-​ˈsti-​shən How to pronounce onomastics (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

The original word for the science of naming was "onomatology," which was adopted from French in the mid-19th century. About a century later, however, people began referring to the science as "onomastics," a term based on the Greek verb onomazein ("to name"). Like many sciences, onomastics is itself composed of special divisions. An onomastician might, for example, study personal names or place names, names of a specific region or historical period, or even the character names of a particular author, like Charles Dickens.

First Known Use of onomastics

1904, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Learn More About onomastics

Time Traveler for onomastics

Time Traveler

The first known use of onomastics was in 1904

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About onomastics

Dictionary Entries Near onomastics




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for onomastics

Cite this Entry

“Onomastics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/onomastics. Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on onomastics

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about onomastics


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!