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#22891 - 03/14/01 05:24 PM cognomen

can someone help me with my understanding of a new word that i saw today, "cognomen"?

Atomica defines it as:

A name, especially a descriptive nickname or epithet acquired through usage over a period of time.

would anyone be willing to cite examples of how you'd use it in conversation? are our AWAD nicknames (well, the descriptive ones, at least, as in AnnaStrophic, belligerentyouth etc) considered cognominal?



#22892 - 03/14/01 05:36 PM Re: cognomen
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
From what I know it just means a nickname acquired through usage, like calling someone "Gutter Queen" because they frequently reside there.

#22893 - 03/14/01 05:37 PM Re: cognomen
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear bridget96: please forgive the goofy way my computer mistranslates some of the symbols used by my CD dictionary.
And the fact that I don't have much to add to what it says.
So, by the third definition a cognomen is any name, often a nickname.

Incidentally, I think the "handles" used by board members would be closer to "alias" than to "cognomen".

Dcog[no[men 7k9g nb4m!n8
pl. 3no4mens or 3nom$i[na 73n9m4i n!8 5L < co3, with + nomen, NAME: sp. infl. by assoc. with *gnomen < Gr gnbma, mark, token: akin to L gnoscere, KNOW6
1 the third or family name of an ancient Roman (Ex.: Marcus Tullius Cicero)
2 any family name; surname; last name
3 any name; esp., a nickname
cog[nom$i[nal 73n9m4i n!l8

#22894 - 03/14/01 06:20 PM Re: cognomen
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
so, in summary, cognomen is a word borrowed directly from Latin that has shifted sense from Roman surname to English surname to name to nickname.

here's Hawthorne using it in the third sense:
1852 Blithedale Rom. iv, I repeated the name [Priscilla] to myself three or four times... this quaint and prim cognomen... amalgamated itself with my idea of the girl.

#22895 - 03/15/01 06:10 AM Re: cognomen
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
To further the Latin connection, in Italian "cognome" means "last name" or "family name".

I have never heard it in conversation but all that says is that I have boring conversations!

#22896 - 03/15/01 11:12 AM Re: cognomen
Bobyoungbalt Offline

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
The excellent posts so far have pretty much answered the question. To fill in, the ancient Romans had a naming system for men (the only people who counted). A man had 3 names, as noted in the example cited in Bill's post: the praenomen e.g., Marcus; the nomen e.g., Tullius; the cognomen e.g. Cicero. There were only a small number of praenomines, so they were often abbreviated, like M. for Marcus. The cognomen was, as noted, a family name, so one's personal name was the one in the middle, which is why a good many writers used to refer to M. Tullius Cicero as Tully (the 'y' ending being an Anglicization). Cicero referred to himself as Marcus Tullius -- in the oration (In Catalinam}which has been quoted in the Latin Translation thread, he said, "If the Fatherland should say to me, 'Marce Tulle, quid agis?'" (the name here being declined with the endings for the vocative case).

#22897 - 03/15/01 11:20 AM Re: cognomen
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
the name here being declined

If the men were the only ones who could count, and they refused to be named, what wonder the Empire falls?

#22898 - 03/15/01 07:36 PM Re: cognomen
Rouspeteur Offline

Registered: 03/10/01
Posts: 163
L. cognZmen, f. co- together + (g)nZmen name; cf. co-gnZ-scere to learn, know.]
1. In Latin use: (a) The third name, family name, or surname of a Roman citizen, as Marcus Tullius Cicero, Caius Julius Cæsar; (b) an additional name or epithet bestowed on individuals, as Africanus, Cunctator (in later Latin called agnomen).
1879 H. Phillips Notes upon Coins 10 Saserna was the cognomen of a noble family which deduced its descent from King Tullus Hostilius.

Hence, in English use:

2. A distinguishing name or epithet given to a person or assumed by himself; a nickname.
1811 L. M. Hawkins C'tess & Gertr. I. 96 Though called by whatever epithets or cognomens imply old age. 1824 Miss Mitford Village Ser. i. (1863) 101 Her father, Jack Bint+was commonly known by the cognomen of London Jack. 1855 Prescott Philip II, I. ii. vi. 213 The cognomen by which Philip is recognized is ‘the Prudent’.

3. An (English) surname.
1809 W. Irving Knickerb. (1861) 157 The name of Alexander+coupled with the gentle cognomen of Partridge. 1867 M. E. Braddon R. Godwin II. iii. 39 The Queen of Beauty was distinguished by the very commonplace cognomen of Watson.

4. loosely. Name, appellation. [So, in Latin, very commonly used by Vergil and other poets, for a name given to a country, river, etc.]
1852 Hawthorne Blithedale Rom. iv, I repeated the name [Priscilla] to myself three or four times+this quaint and prim cognomen+amalgamated itself with my idea of the girl. 1857 Wood Com. Obj. Sea Shore 4 The Common Shag, a bird of a monosyllabic English cognomen. 1872 Jenkinson's Guide Eng. Lakes (1879) 189 A lane, bearing the euphonious cognomen of Spooney Green.

#22899 - 03/16/01 11:00 AM Re: cognomen
emanuela Offline

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 315
Loc: Italy - Perugia is a town with...
To further the Latin connection, in Italian "cognome" means "last name" or "family name".
I have never heard it in conversation but all that says is that I have boring conversations

No, we use cognome mostly in bureaucracy - asking for nome (John) and cognome (Doe), or talking of the phone book.

#22900 - 03/16/01 04:19 PM Re: cognomen
Bobyoungbalt Offline

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
It used to be common, in English, to refer to someone's Christian name(s), i.e., their personal names, or first and middle names, which they received at their baptism. You don't hear this much any more, at least in the U.S., which may come from the impetus to avoid sectarianism.

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