1 a : 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
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.
As a student of onomastics, Gloria liked to keep track of the most popular baby names across generations.
"Leaving that aside, the name Fatima is also used by Catholics, who take it from the town where the Virgin Mary was reported to have appeared in 1917 (itself, in one of those byways of onomastics, named after a princess who bore the name of Mohammed's daughter)." — Dot Wordsworth, The Spectator (London), 9 May 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create a word that refers to the use of an epithet or title in place of a proper name (such as the Bard for Shakespeare): an _ on _ m _ _ ia.VIEW THE ANSWER
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