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patronym (PA-truh-nim) noun

1. A name derived from the name of father or an ancestor, e.g. Johnson (son of John).

2. A surname or family name.

[From Greek patronymous (patronymic), from patri- (father) + -onym (name).]

Here are a few more patronyms from other languages and cultures:

  • Arabic bin (bin Laden, son of Laden), bint (Bint Ahmed, daughter of Ahmed)
  • Hebrew ben (Ben-Gurion, son of Gurion; Ben-Hur, son of Hur)
  • Hindi -putra/put (Brahmaputra, son of Brahma; Rajput, son of king)
  • Irish and Scottish Mac/Mc- (McDonald, son of Donald)
  • Irish O (O'Brien, grandson/descendant of Brien)
  • Norman Fitz- (Fitzgerald, son of Gerald)
  • Russian -ich/-vich, as a middle name (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, son of Pavel)
  • Spanish -ez (Fernandez, son of Fernando; Gonzalez son of Gonzalo)
  • Welsh ap or p (Pritchard from ap Richard, son of Richard)

"Consider her humble origins. Born to a Russian species, slapped with a French patronym, she came to us bearing a standard-poodle pedigree that guaranteed her to be purebred American. Just like her owners."
Ellen Goodman, Is Your Old Dog Ready to be a Senior Citizen?, The Seattle Times, Nov 19, 1986.

This week's theme: words about words.


Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. -Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton), historian (1834-1902)

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