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Jun 29, 2020
This week’s theme
Back-formations

This week’s words
onymous
swashbuckle
zig
rort
couth

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Words coined after metals
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

We coin new words. We borrow them from other languages. We extend existing words: we took the verb explore (earliest documented use: 1585) and made the noun explorer (earliest documented use: 1685) from it. These are some of the ways the word stock grows.

There’s another, a backward way, too.

Back-formation! In the above example we added the suffix -er (denoting a person who does something) to explore to come up with explorer. Sometimes we remove a part from an existing word to make a new word. This is what this week’s words do.

onymous

PRONUNCIATION:
(AHN-uh-muhs)

MEANING:
adjective: Bearing the author’s name; named.

ETYMOLOGY:
Back-formation from Latin anonymus, from Greek anonymus, from an- (not) + onyma (name). Earliest documented use: 1775. Anonymous is from 1601.

USAGE:
“And there, on a raised and ornate table ... the king’s writings, undeniably onymous at last.”
Arthur Phillips; The Egyptologist; Random House; 2004.

See more usage examples of onymous in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures -- in this century, as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author and aviator (29 Jun 1900-1944)

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