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A misnomer is a name that is incorrectly or unsuitably applied.[1] Misnomers often arise because something was named long before its correct nature was known, or because an earlier form of something has been replaced by a later form to which the name no longer suitably applies. A misnomer may also be simply a word that someone uses incorrectly or misleadingly.[2] The word "misnomer" does not mean "misunderstanding" or "popular misconception",[2] and a number of misnomers remain in common usage — which is to say that a word being a misnomer does not necessarily make usage of the word incorrect.

Sources of misnomers

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Some of the sources of misnomers are:

Examples

Older name retained

The term anachronym (note well -chron-) as defined in Garner's Modern English Usage[3] refers to this type of misnomer. Examples cited by Garner include the persistence of the word dial in its telephoning sense after the rotary dial era and the persistence of the term tin foil in the aluminum foil era.[3] Anachronyms should not be homophonously confused with anacronyms (note well -acro-), which are words such as laser and sonar that have acronymic origin but are generally no longer treated like conventional acronyms (that is, they are used syntactically like any other words, without reference to their original expansions).

Similarity of appearance

Difference between common and technical meanings

Association with place other than that which one may assume

Other

See also

References

  1. ^ Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged (12th ed.). HarperCollins. 2014.
  2. ^ a b Garner, Bryan (2009). Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 542. ISBN 978-0-19-538275-4.
  3. ^ a b Garner, Bryan A. (2016), Garner's Modern English Usage (4th ed.), headword "anachronyms", ISBN 978-0190491482.
  4. ^ Leitner, Gerhard; Sieloff, Inke (1998). "Aboriginal words and concepts in Australian English". World Englishes. 17 (2): 153–169. doi:10.1111/1467-971X.00089.