Glossary of Naming Terms

Acronym Grammeme Palindrome
Alliteration Grapheme Personification
Allograph Haplology Phonology
Allusion Headword, Lemma (morphology) Poetics
Altered Spelling Invented Names/Neologisms/Coined Names Phonetics
Anthropomorphism Initialism Portmanteau Word
Arbitrary Lemma Pragmatics
Backronym Lexeme Product Naming
Brand Name Lexicon Prosody
Cliché Lexis Rhetoric
Clipping Linguistics Semantics
Combination Metaphor Semiotics
Descriptive Metonymy Simile
Disambiguation Mimetic Sonorant
Elision Mnemonic Sound Symbolism
Eponym Morpheme Syncope
Etymology Morphology (linguistics) Synecdoche
Evocative Names Neologism Tautology & Pleonasm
Experiential Learning Objectification Taxonomy
Experiential Naming Obstruent Theonym
Functional Names/Descriptive Names Omission Theronym
Glyph Onomastics or Onomatology Trademarks
Grammar Onomatopoeia Verisimilitude


An abbreviation formed by (usually initial) letters taken from a word or series of words, and which is itself pronounced as a word, such as RAM, radar, or scuba; sometimes contrasted with initialism.

A pronounceable word formed from the beginnings (letter or syllable) of other words and thus representing the phrase so formed, e.g. Benelux = the countries Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg considered as a political or economic whole.

Any abbreviation so formed, regardless of pronunciation, such as TNT, IBM, or XML, FBI, KFC




The repetition of consonants at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals; as in the following lines: -

Behemoth, biggest born of earth, up-heaved His vastness. -Milton.

Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields. -Alfred Tennyson.


Coca-Cola, Fire Fox, Roto Rooter, LifeLock, PayPal, Best Buy, BlockBuster, BlackBerry, Reese's Pieces, Dunkin' Donuts


Allography, from the Greek for "other writing", has several meanings which all relate to how words and sounds are written down.

Allographs as authorship

An allograph may be the opposite of an autograph; that is, a person's words or name (signature) written by someone else.

Allographs in script

In graphemics, the term allograph denotes any graphs that are considered variants of a letter or other grapheme. An obvious example in English (and many other writing systems) is the distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters. Allographs can vary vastly, without affecting the underlying identity of the grapheme. Even if the word "cat" is rendered as "cAt", it remains recognizable as the sequence of the three graphemes <c>, <a>, <t>. [2]

Letters and other graphemes can also have huge variations that may be missed by many readers. The letter g, for example, has two common forms (glyphs) in different typefaces, and an enormous variety in people's handwriting. A positional example of allography is the so-called long s, a symbol which was once a widely-used non-final allograph of the lowercase letter s.

Typeface allographs

a  ɑ      s  ſ

The fact that handwritten allographs differ so widely from person to person, and even from day to day with the same person, means that handwriting recognition software is enormously complicated.

Chinese characters:

In the Chinese script, there exist several graphemes that have more than one written representation. Chinese typefaces often contain many variants of some graphemes. Different regional standards have adopted certain character variants. For instance:

Standard Allograph
Mainland China


An indirect reference; a hint; a reference to something supposed to be known, but not explicitly mentioned; a covert indication.


London Fog, mythological figures: Nike, Janus, Mercury; etc.

Altered Spelling:


Cingular (singular), Google (googol), flickr(flicker)


The attribution of human characteristics to animal or non-living things, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Examples include animals and plants and forces of nature such as winds, rain or the sun depicted as creatures with human motivations, and/or the abilities to reason and converse. The term derives from the combination of the Greek ?????p?? (ánthropos), "human" and µ??f? (morphe), "shape" or "form".

It is strongly associated with art and storytelling where it has ancient roots. Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognized types of human behavior.



Apple, Amazon, Gateway, Pontiac, Kodak, Kleenex


???? or bacronym is a phrase constructed after the fact to make an existing word or words into an acronym. Backronyms may be invented with serious or humorous intent, or may be a type of false or folk etymology.

The word is a portmanteau of back and acronym, and has been defined as a "reverse acronym".[1] Its earliest known citation in print is as "bacronym" in the November 1983 edition of the Washington Post monthly neologism contest. The newspaper quoted winning reader "Meredith G. Williams of Potomac" defining it as the "same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters."

The term “backronym” is used to refer to several things. Most often, it means an acronym which is made by deciding on an acronym first, and then devising a name or title to fit around it. The USA PATRIOT Act is such an example; congressional lawmakers wanted the name of a groundbreaking piece of legislation to become a memorable and distinctive acronym. They created the desired acronym ( "USA patriot") and then fit the name to it ( "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism").



Brand Name:

A brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business. It is manifested as a name, logo or symbol that may, or may not, be trademarked or registered which is used to identify a company's goods or services.

Simultaneously, it is used to differentiate between competing brands. Because a brand identifies its products or services it protects against competitors who may attempt to market similar goods or services. Companies have an incentive to invest in the quality, consistency, and imagery of their brand. Branding dates back to ancient times, when names or marks appeared on such goods as bricks, pots; etc. In medieval Europe, trade guilds used brands to provide quality assurance for customers and legal protection for manufacturers.


Is a saying, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, "played out", rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. It is likely to be used pejoratively. But "clichés" are not always false or inaccurate; a cliché may or may not be true. Some are stereotypes, but some are simply truisms and facts. A cliché may sometimes be used in a work of fiction for comedic effect.

Most cliché phrases were originally striking, but they lost their force through overuse. In this connection, David Mason and John Frederick Nims cite the particularly harsh judgment of Salvador Dalí: "The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot."

A spoken or written cliché is often a vivid depiction of an abstract matter that works by means of analogy or exaggeration. The picture used is usually drawn from everyday experience so that the recipient most probably can relate to the depiction by tentatively querying their reaction to what is conveyed in the picture. When used sparingly and deliberately, a cliché can be used to great poetic effect. However, cliché in writing is generally considered a mark of inexperience or unoriginality. Exerpted from


The action of the verb to clip. Linguistics- A short form of a word. The word “ad’ is a clipping of “advertisement”


Fed Ex (Federal Express), burger (hamburger), auto (automobile), phys-ed (physical education)


combining words or portmanteau


Walk Man



Bed Bath & Beyond, Info Seek, GoTo, Find What, All the web


In computational linguistics, word sense disambiguation (WSD) is an open problem of natural language processing, which governs the process of identifying which sense of a word (i.e. meaning) is used in a sentence, when the word has multiple meanings (polysemy). The solution to this problem impacts other computer-related writing, such as discourse, improving relevance of search engines, anaphora resolution, coherence, inference and others.

Research has progressed steadily to the point where WSD systems achieve sufficiently high levels of accuracy on a variety of word types and ambiguities. A rich variety of techniques have been researched, from dictionary-based methods that use the knowledge encoded in lexical resources, to supervised machine learning methods in which a classifier is trained for each distinct word on a corpus of manually sense-annotated examples, to completely unsupervised methods that cluster occurrences of words, thereby inducing word senses. Among these, supervised learning approaches have been the most successful algorithms to date.


is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce. Sometimes, sounds may be elided for euphonic effect.

Elision is normally unintentional, but it may be deliberate. The result may be impressionistically described as "slurred" or "muted."

An example of deliberate elision occurs in Latin poetry as a stylistic device. Under certain circumstances, such as one word ending in a vowel and the following word beginning in a vowel, the words may be elided together. Elision was a common device in the works of Catullus. For example, the opening line of Catullus 3 is: Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque, but would be read as Lugeto Veneres Cupidinesque.

The elided form of a word or phrase may become a standard alternative for the full form, if used often enough. In English, this is called a contraction, such as can't from cannot. Contraction differs from elision in that contractions are set forms that have morphologized, but elisions are not.

A synonym for elision is syncope, though the latter term is most often associated with the elision of vowels between consonants (e.g., Latin tabula → Spanish tabla). Another form of elision is aphesis, which means elision at the beginning of a word (generally of an unstressed vowel).

Some morphemes take the form of elision. See disfix.

The opposite of elision is epenthesis, whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation.

A special form of elision called ecthlipsis is used in Latin poetry when a word ending in the letter "m" is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, e.g., " mutam nequiquam adloquerer cinerem." = " mutam nequiquadloquerer cinerem." - Catullus 101.

The omission of a word from a phrase or sentence is not elision but ellipsis or, more accurately, elliptical construction.

Eponym, Eponymous:

An eponym is the name of a person, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named. One who is referred to as eponymous is someone who gives his or her name to something, e.g. Julian, the eponymous owner of the famous restaurant Julian's Castle. Something eponymous is named after a particular person, e.g. Julian's eponymous restaurant.

Eponymous also means simply having the same name. In contemporary English, the term eponymous is often used to mean self-titled[1]. E.g., "Divinity Destroyed", the album by band Divinity Destroyed.

An etiological myth is a "reverse eponym" in the sense that a legendary character is invented in order to explain a term.


Trump Tower, alliterative too, Charles Schwab & Co.


Etymology  is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available. By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method, linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European language family.

though etymological research originally grew from the philological tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic and Austronesian.


Etymologists apply a number of methods to study the origins of words, some of which are: Philological research. Changes in the form and meaning of the word can be traced with the aid of older texts, if such are available. Making use of dialectological data. The form or meaning of the word might show variations between dialects, which may yield clues about its earlier history.

The comparative method. By a systematic comparison of related languages, etymologists may often be able to detect which words derive from their common ancestor language and which were instead later borrowed from another language.

The study of semantic change. Etymologists must often make hypotheses about changes in the meaning of particular words. Such hypotheses are tested against the general knowledge of semantic shifts. For example, the assumption of a particular change of meaning may be substantiated by showing that the same type of change has occurred in other languages as well.

Types of word origins:

Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are borrowing (i.e., the adoption of "loanwords" from other languages); word formation such as derivation and compounding; and onomatopoeia and sound symbolism, (i.e., the creation of imitative words such as "click").

While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to sound change or semantic change. Due to sound change, it is not readily obvious that the English word set is related to the word sit (the former is originally acausative formation of the latter). It is even less obvious that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning "to mark with blood"). Semantic change may also occur. For example, the English word bead originally meant "prayer". It acquired its modern meaning through the practice of counting the recitation of prayers by using beads.

English language:

English derives from Old English (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon), a West Germanic variety, although its current vocabulary includes words from many languages.[1] The Old English roots may be seen in the similarity of numbers in English and German, particularly seven/sieben, eight/acht, nine/neun, and ten/zehn.Pronouns are also cognate: I/mine/me ich/mein/mich; thou/thine/thee and du/dein/dich; we/wir us/uns; she/sie. However, language change has eroded many grammatical elements, such as the noun case system, which is greatly simplified in modern English, and certain elements of vocabulary, some of which are borrowed from French. Although many of the words in the English lexicon come from Romance languages, most of the common words used in English are of Germanic origin.

When the Normans conquered England in 1066 (see Norman Conquest), they brought their Norman language with them. During the Anglo-Norman period, which united insular and continental territories, the ruling class spoke Anglo-Norman, while the peasants spoke the vernacular English of the time. Anglo-Norman was the conduit for the introduction of French into England, aided by the circulation of Langue d'oïl literature from France. This led to many paired words of French and English origin. For example, beef is related, through borrowing, to modern French bœuf, veal to veau, pork to porc, and poultry to poulet. All these words, French and English, refer to the meat rather than to the animal. Words that refer to farm animals, on the other hand, tend to be cognates of words in other Germanic languages. For example swine/Schwein, cow/Kuh, calf/Kalb, and sheep/Schaf. The variant usage has been explained by the proposition that it was the Norman rulers who mostly ate meat (an expensive commodity) and the Anglo-Saxons who farmed the animals. This explanation has passed into common folklore but has been disputed.

English has proven accommodating to words from many languages, as described in the following examples. Scientific terminology relies heavily on words of Latin and Greek origin.Spanish has contributed many words, particularly in the southwestern United States. Examples include buckaroo from vaquero or "cowboy"; alligator from el lagarto or "lizard"; rodeo andsavvy; states' names such as Colorado and Florida. Cuddle, eerie, and greed come from Scots; albino, palaver, lingo, verandah, and coconut from Portuguese; diva, prima donna, pasta,pizza, paparazzi, and umbrella from Italian; adobe, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, assassin, caliber, cotton, hazard, jacket, jar, julep, mosque, Muslim, orange, safari, sofa, andzero from Arabic; honcho, sushi, and tsunami from Japanese; dim sum, gung ho, kowtow, kumquat, ketchup, and typhoon from Cantonese; behemoth, hallelujah, Satan, jubilee, andrabbi from Hebrew; taiga, sable, and sputnik from Russian; galore, whiskey, phoney, trousers, and Tory from Irish; brahman, guru, karma, and pandit from Sanskrit; kampong and amokfrom Malay; smorgasbord and ombudsman from Swedish, Danish, Norwegian; sauna from Finnish; and boondocks from the Tagalog word, bundok. (See also "loanword.")


The search for meaningful origins for familiar or strange words is far older than the modern understanding of linguistic evolution and the relationships of languages, which began no earlier than the 18th century. From Antiquity through the 17th century, from P??ini to Pindar to Sir Thomas Browne, etymology had been a form of witty wordplay, in which the supposed origins of words were changed to satisfy contemporary requirements.

The Greek poet Pindar (born in approximately 522 BCE) employed creative etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch employed etymologies insecurely based on fancied resemblances in sounds. Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae was an encyclopedic tracing of "first things" that remained uncritically in use in Europe until the sixteenth century. Etymologicum genuinum is a grammatical encyclopedia edited at Constantinople in the ninth century, one of several similar Byzantine works. The fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea begins each vita of a saint with a fanciful excursus in the form of an etymology.

Ancient Sanskrit:

The Sanskrit linguists and grammarians of ancient India were the first to make a comprehensive analysis of linguistics and etymology. The study of Sanskrit etymology has provided Western scholars with the basis of historical linguistics and modern etymology. Four of the most famous Sanskrit linguists are: Yaska (c. 6th-5th centuries BCE) P??ini (c. 520-460 BCE) K?ty?yana (2nd century BCE) Patañjali (2nd century BCE)

These linguists were not the earliest Sanskrit grammarians, however. They followed a line of ancient grammarians of Sanskrit who lived several centuries earlier. The earliest of attested etymologies can be found in Vedic literature in the philosophical explanations of the Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads.

The analyses of Sanskrit grammar done by the previously mentioned linguists involved extensive studies on the etymology (called Nirukta or Vyutpatti in Sanskrit) of Sanskrit words, because the ancient Indo-Aryans considered sound and speech itself to be sacred and, for them, the words of the sacred Vedas contained deep encoding of the mysteries of the soul and God.

Ancient Greco-Roman:

One of the earliest philosophical texts of the Classical Greek period to address etymology was the Socratic dialogue Cratylus (c. 360 BCE) by Plato. During much of the dialogue,Socrates makes guesses as to the origins of many words, including the names of the gods. In his Odes Pindar spins complimentary etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch (Life ofNuma Pompilius) spins an etymology for pontifex ("bridge-builder"): the priests, called Pontifices.... have the name of Pontifices from potens, powerful, because they attend the service of the gods, who have power and command over all. Others make the word refer to exceptions of impossible cases; the priests were to perform all the duties possible to them; if any thing lay beyond their power, the exception was not to be cavilled at. The most common opinion is the most absurd, which derives this word from pons, and assigns the priests the title of bridge-makers. The sacrifices performed on the bridge were amongst the most sacred and ancient, and the keeping and repairing of the bridge attached, like any other public sacred office, to the priesthood.


Isidore of Seville compiled a volume of etymologies to illuminate the triumph of religion. Each saint's legend in Jacob de Voragine's Legenda Aurea begins with an etymological discourse on the saint's name: Lucy is said of light, and light is beauty in beholding, after that S. Ambrose saith: The nature of light is such, she is gracious in beholding, she spreadeth over all without lying down, she passeth in going right without crooking by right long line; and it is without dilation of tarrying, and therefore it is showed the blessed Lucy hath beauty of virginity without any corruption; essence of charity without disordinate love; rightful going and devotion to God, without squaring out of the way; right long line by continual work without negligence of slothful tarrying. In Lucy is said, the way of light.

Modern Era:

Etymology in the modern sense emerged in the late 18th century European academia, within the context of the wider "Age of Enlightenment," although preceded by 17th century pioneers such as Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn, Vossius, Stephen Skinner, Elisha Coles, and William Wotton. The first known systematic attempt to prove the relationship between two languages on the basis of similarity of grammar and lexicon was made in 1770 by the Hungarian, János Sajnovics, when he attempted to demonstrate the relationship between Sami andHungarian (work that was later extended to the whole Finno-Ugric language family in 1799 by his fellow countryman, Samuel Gyarmathi). The origin of modern historical linguistics is often traced back to Sir William Jones, an English philologist living in India, who in 1782 observed the genetic relationship between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. Jones published his The Sanscrit Language in 1786, laying the foundation for the field of Indo-European linguistics.

The study of etymology in Germanic philology was introduced by Rasmus Christian Rask in the early 19th century and elevated to a high standard with the German Dictionary of theBrothers Grimm. The successes of the comparative approach culminated in the Neogrammarian school of the late 19th century. Still in the 19th century, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used etymological strategies (principally and most famously in On the Genealogy of Morals, but also elsewhere) to argue that moral values have definite historical (specifically, cultural) origins where modulations in meaning regarding certain concepts (such as "good" and "evil") show how these ideas had changed over time according to which value-system appropriated them. This strategy gained popularity in the 20th century, and philosophers, such as Jacques Derrida, have used etymologies to indicate former meanings of words to de-center the "violent hierarchies" of Western metaphysics.


Evocative Names:


Yahoo, Apple, Virgin

Experiential Learning:

The process of making meaning from direct experience. Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." David A. Kolb helped to popularize the idea of experiential learning drawing heavily on the work of John Dewey and Jean Piaget. His work on experiential learning has contributed greatly to expanding the philosophy of experiential education. Exerpted from

Experiential Naming:


Gateway, Explorer, Magellan, Navigator, Safari

Functional/Descriptive Names:


Info Seek, Digital Equipment, Pan Am, Delta, American, Range Rover, Pathfinder, Land Cruiser


A glyph is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written. A glyph is made up of one or more graphemes.

For example, in most languages written in any variety of the Latin alphabet the dot on a lower-case "i" is not a glyph because it does not convey any distinction, and an i in which the dot has been accidentally omitted is still likely to be read as an "i". However in Turkish it is a glyph, because that language has two distinct versions of the letter "i", with and without a dot.

In Japanese syllabaries, a number of the characters are made up of more than one separate mark, but in general these separate marks are not glyphs because they have no meaning by themselves. However in some cases, additional marks fulfill the role of diacritics, to differentiate distinct characters. Such additional marks constitute glyphs.

In general a diacritic is a glyph, even if (like a cedilla in Spanish, the ogonek in several languages or the stroke on a Polish L) it is "joined up" with the rest of the character.

Some characters such as ⟨æ⟩ in Icelandic and the ⟨ß⟩ in German would probably be regarded as glyphs: they were originally ligatures but over time have become characters in their own right, and these languages treat them as separate letters. However a ligature such as "ffi", which is treated in some typefaces as a single unit, is arguably not a glyph as this is just a quirk of the typeface, essentially an allographic feature, and includes more than one grapheme. In normal handwriting, even long words are often written "joined up", without the pen leaving the paper, and the form of each written letter will often vary depending on which letters precede and follow it, but that does not make the whole word into a single glyph.

Two or more glyphs which have the same significance, whether used interchangeably or chosen depending on context, are called allographs of each other.


The study of language structure:

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. Linguists do not normally use the term to refer to orthographical rules, although usage books and style guides that call themselves grammars may also refer to spelling and punctuation.

The term "grammar" is often used by non-linguists with a very broad meaning indeed; as Jeremy Butterfield puts it: "Grammar is often a generic way of referring to any aspect of English that people object to." [1] However, linguists use it in a much more specific sense. Every speaker of a language has, in his or her head, a set of rules [2] for using that language. This is a grammar, and—at least in the case of one's native language—the vast majority of the information in it is acquired not by conscious study or instruction, but by observing other speakers; much of this work is done during infancy. Language learning later in life, of course, may involve a greater degree of explicit instruction.[3]

The term "grammar" can also be used to describe the rules that govern the linguistic behavior of a group of speakers. The term "English grammar", therefore, may have several meanings. It may refer to the whole of English grammar—that is, to the grammars of all the speakers of the language—in which case, the term encompasses a great deal of variation. [4] Alternatively, it may refer only to what is common to the grammars of all, or of the vast majority of, English speakers (such as subject–verb–object word order in simple declarative sentences). Or it may refer to the rules of a particular, relatively well-defined variety of English (such as Standard English).

"An English grammar" is a specific description, study or analysis of such rules. A reference book describing the grammar of a language is called a "reference grammar" or simply "a grammar." A fully explicit grammar that exhaustively describes the grammatical constructions of a language is called a descriptive grammar. Linguistic description contrasts with linguistic prescription, which tries to enforce rules of how a language is to be used.

Grammatical frameworks are approaches to constructing grammars. The most known among the approaches is the traditional grammar which is traditionally taught in schools.


In linguistics it’s a unit of grammar, just as a lexeme is a lexical unit and a morpheme is a morphological unit.

More specifically, a grammeme is a value of a grammar category [1]. For example, singular and plural are grammemes of the category Grammatical number, noun and verb are grammemes of the category Part of speech, etc.


A grapheme (from Greek γράφω (gráphō), meaning "write") is the smallest semantically distinguishing unit in a written language. It does not carry meaning by itself. Graphemes include alphabetic letters, Chinese characters, numerical digits, punctuation marks, and the individual symbols of any of the world's writing systems.

It is usual to transcribe graphemes within angle brackets, to show their special status, such as <a>, <b>, <c>.


Defined as the elimination of a syllable when two consecutive identical or similar syllables occur. The phenomenon was identified by American philologist Maurice Bloomfield in the 20th century.[1] Linguists sometimes jokingly refer to the phenomenon as "haplogy" (subjecting the word "haplology" to haplology).


particularly (particuly), pierced-ear earrings (pierced earrings), probably (probly), February (febry), Toys R Us (Toys Are Us)

Headword, Lemma (morphology):

A headword, head word, lemma, or sometimes catchword is the word under which a set of related dictionary or encyclopaedia entries appear. The headword is used to locate the entry, and dictates its alphabetical position. Depending on the size and nature of the dictionary or encyclopedia, the entry may include alternative meanings of the word, its etymology and pronunciation, compound words or phrases that contain the headword, and encyclopedic information about the concepts represented by the word.

For example, the headword bread may contain the following (simplified) definitions:

Bread (noun)

A common food made from the combination of flour, water and yeast

Money (slang)

Bread (verb)

To coat in breadcrumbs

to know which side your bread is buttered to know how to act in your own best interests.

The Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian contains around 500,000 headwords. The Oxford English Dictionary has around 300,000 headwords,[1] while Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary has about 470,000.[2] These values are as claimed by the dictionary makers, and may not be using exactly the same definition of a headword. Also, the Oxford English Dictionary covers each word much more exhaustively than the Third New International.[citation needed]

The term 'lemma' comes from the practice in Greco-Roman antiquity of using the word to refer to the headwords of marginal glosses in scholia; for this reason, the Ancient Greek plural form is sometimes used, namely lemmata (Greek λῆμμα, pl. λήμματα).

Invented names/neologism/coined names:


Kodak, Kleenex


A term formed from the initial letter or letters of several words or parts of words, but which is itself pronounced letter by letter.


BBC is an initialism for British Broadcasting Corporation.


In morphology and lexicography, a lemma (plural lemmas or lemmata) is the canonical form, dictionary form, or citation form of a set of words (headword). In English, for example, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, with run as the lemma. Lexeme, in this context, refers to the set of all the forms that have the same meaning, and lemma refers to the particular form that is chosen by convention to represent the lexeme. In lexicography, this unit is usually also the citation form or headword by which it is indexed. Lemmas have special significance in highly inflected languages such as Czech. The process of determining the lemma for a given word is called lemmatisation.


In English, the citation form of a noun is the singular: e.g., mouse rather than mice. For multi-word lexemes which contain possessive adjectives or reflexive pronouns, the citation form uses a form of the indefinite pronoun one: e.g., do one's best, perjure oneself. In languages with grammatical gender, the citation form of regular adjectives and nouns is usually the masculine singular. If the language additionally has cases, the citation form is often the masculine singular nominative.

In many languages, the citation form of a verb is the infinitive: French aller, German gehen. In English it usually is the full infinitive (to go); the present tense is used for some defective verbs (shall, can, and must has only the one form). In Latin, Ancient Greek, and Modern Greek (which has no infinitive), however, the first person singular present tense is normally used, though occasionally the infinitive may also be seen. (For contracted verbs in Greek, an uncontracted first person singular present tense is used to reveal the contract vowel, e.g. φιλέω philéō for φιλῶ philō "I love" [implying affection]; ἀγαπάω agapáō for ἀγαπῶ agapō "I love" [implying regard]). In Japanese, the non-past (present and future) tense is used.

In Arabic, which has no infinitives, the third person singular masculine of the past tense is the least-marked form, and is used for entries in modern dictionaries. In older dictionaries, which are still commonly used today, the triliteral of the word, either a verb or a noun, is used. Hebrew often uses the 3rd person masculine qal perfect, e.g., ברא bara' create, כפר kaphar deny. Georgian uses the verbal noun. For Korean, -da is attached to the stem.

In the Irish language words are highly inflected depending on their case (genitive, nominative, dative, and vocative); they are also inflected on their place within a sentence due to the presence of initial mutations. The noun cainteoir, the lemma for the noun meaning "speaker", has a variety of forms: chainteoir, gcainteoir, cainteora, chainteora, cainteoirí, chainteoirí, and gcainteoirí.

Some phrases are cited in a sort of lemma, e.g., Carthago delenda est (literally, "Carthage must be destroyed") is a common way of citing Cato, although what he said was more like, Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam ("As to the rest, I hold that Carthage must be destroyed").


In a dictionary, the lemma "go" represents the inflected forms "go", "goes", "going", "went", and "gone". The relationship between an inflected form and its lemma is usually denoted by an angle bracket, e.g., "went" < "go". The disadvantage of such simplifications is, of course, the inability to look up a declined or conjugated form of the word, although some dictionaries, like Webster's, will list "went". Multilingual dictionaries vary in how they deal with this issue: the Langenscheidt dictionary of German does not list ging (< gehen); the Cassell does.

The form that is chosen to be the lemma is usually the least marked form, though there are occasional exceptions; e.g., Finnish dictionaries list verbs not under the verb root, but under the first infinitive marked with -(t)a, -(t)ä.

Lemmas or word stems are used often in corpus linguistics for determining word frequency. In such usage the specific definition of "lemma" is flexible depending on the task it is being used for.

Difference between stem and lemma

In computational linguistics, a stem is the part of the word that never changes even when morphologically inflected, whilst a lemma is the base form of the verb. For example, from "produced", the lemma is "produce", but the stem is "produc-." This is because there are words such as production. [1] In linguistic analysis, the stem is defined more generally as the analyzed base form from which all inflected forms can be formed. When phonology is taken into account, the definition of the unchangeable part of the word is not useful, as can be seen in the phonological forms of the words in the preceding example: "produced" (IPA: /proʊˈdjuːst/) vs. "production" (IPA:  /proʊˈdʌkʃən/).

Some lexemes have several stems but one lemma. For instance "to go" (the lemma) has the stems "go" and "went". (The past tense is based on a different verb, "to wend". The "-t" suffix may be considered as equivalent to "-ed".)


A lexeme is an abstract unit of morphological analysis in linguistics, that roughly corresponds to a set of forms taken by a single word. For example, in the English language, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the same lexeme, conventionally written as RUN[1] A related concept is the lemma (or citation form), which is a particular form of a lexeme that is chosen by convention to represent a canonical form of a lexeme. Lemmas are used in dictionaries as the headwords, and other forms of a lexeme are often listed later in the entry if they are not common conjugations of that word.

A lexeme belongs to a particular syntactic category, has a certain meaning (semantic value), and in inflecting languages, has a corresponding inflectional paradigm; that is, a lexeme in many languages will have many different forms. For example, the lexeme RUN has a present third person singular form runs, a present non-third-person singular form run (which also functions as the past participle and non-finite form), a past form ran, and a present participle running. (It does not include runner, runners, runnable, etc.) The use of the forms of a lexeme is governed by rules of grammar; in the case of English verbs such as RUN, these include subject-verb agreement and compound tense rules, which determine which form of a verb can be used in a given sentence.

A lexicon consists of lexemes.

In many formal theories of language, lexemes have subcategorization frames to account for the number and types of complements they occur with in sentences and other syntactic structures.

The notion of a lexeme is very central to morphology, and thus, many other notions can be defined in terms of it. For example, the difference between inflection and derivation can be stated in terms of lexemes:

Inflectional rules relate a lexeme to its forms.

Derivational rules relate a lexeme to another lexeme.


With languages whose orthography employs an alphabet, its Lexemes are often composed of smaller units with individual meaning called morphemes, according to root morpheme + derivational morphemes + desinence (not necessarily in this order), where:

The root morpheme is the primary lexical unit of a word, which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced to smaller constituents.[2]

The derivational morphemes carry only derivational information.[3]

The desinence is composed of all inflectional morphemes, and carries only inflectional information.[4]

The compound root morpheme + derivational morphemes is often called the stem. [5] The decomposition stem+ desinence can then be used to study inflection.


In linguistics, the lexicon (or wordstock) of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" (lexicon), neut. of "λεξικός" (lexikos), "of or for words",[1] from "λέξις" (lexis), "speech", "word", [2] and that from "λέγω" (lego), "to say", "to speak". [3]

The lexicon includes the lexemes used to actualize words. Lexemes are formed according to morpho-syntactic rules and express sememes. In this sense, a lexicon organizes the mental vocabulary in a speaker's mind: First, it organizes the vocabulary of a language according to certain principles (for instance, all verbs of motion may be linked in a lexical network) and second, it contains a generative device producing (new) simple and complex words according to certain lexical rules. For example, the suffix '-able' can be added to transitive verbs only, so that we get 'read-able' but not 'cry-able'.

Usually a lexicon is a container for words belonging to the same language. Some exceptions may be encountered for languages that are variants, like for instance Brazilian Portuguese compared to European Portuguese, where a lot of words are common and where the differences may be marked word by word.

When linguists study the lexicon, they study such things as what words are, how the vocabulary in a language is structured, how people use and store words, how they learn words, the history and evolution of words (i.e. etymology), types of relationships between words as well as how words were created.

An individual's mental lexicon, lexical knowledge, or lexical concept is that person's knowledge of vocabulary. The role the mental lexicon plays in speech perception and production, as well as questions of how words from the lexicon are accessed, is a major topic in the fields of psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, where models such as the cohort model have been proposed to explain how words in the lexicon are retrieved.



In linguistics, a lexis (from the Greek: λέξις "word") is the total word-stock or lexicon having items of lexical, rather than grammatical, meaning. This notion contrasts starkly with the Chomskian proposition of a “Universal Grammar” as the prime mover for language. Grammar still plays an integral role in lexis, but it is the result of accumulated lexis, not its generator.

In short, the lexicon is

Formulaic: It relies on partially-fixed expressions and highly probable word combinations

Idiomatic: It follows conventions and patterns for usage

Metaphoric: Concepts such as time and money, business and sex, systems and water all share a large portion of the same vocabulary

Grammatical: It uses rules based on sampling of the Lexicon

Register-specific: It uses the same word differently and/or less frequently in different contexts

A major area of study psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics involves the question of how words are retrieved from the mental lexicon in online language processing and production. For example, the cohort model seeks to describe lexical retrieval in terms of segment-by-segment activation of competing lexical entries. [1] [2]


The scientific study of natural language and is one of the four sub fields of anthropology. Linguistics encompasses a number of sub-fields. An important topical division is between the study of language structure (grammar) and the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Grammar encompasses morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the rules that determine how words combine into phrases and sentences) and phonology (the study of sound systems and abstract sound units). Phonetics is a related branch of linguistics concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones), non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived. Other sub-disciplines of linguistics include the following: evolutionary linguistics, which considers the origins of language; historical linguistics, which explores language change; sociolinguistics, which looks at the relation between linguistic variation and social structures; psycholinguistics, which explores the representation and functioning of language in the mind; neurolinguistics, which looks at the representation of language in the brain; language acquisition, which considers how children acquire their first language and how children and adults acquire and learn their second and subsequent languages; and discourse analysis, which is concerned with the structure of texts and conversations, and pragmatics with how meaning is transmitted based on a combination of linguistic competence, non-linguistic knowledge, and the context of the speech act.

Linguistics is narrowly defined as the scientific approach to the study of language, but language can be approached from a variety of directions, and a number of other intellectual disciplines are relevant to it and influence its study. Semiotics, for example, is a related field concerned with the general study of signs and symbols both in language and outside of it. Literary theorists study the use of language in artistic literature. Linguistics additionally draws on work from such diverse fields as psychology, speech-language pathology, informatics, computer science, philosophy, biology, human anatomy, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, and acoustics.

Within the field, linguist is used to describe someone who either studies the field or uses linguistic methodologies to study groups of languages or particular languages. Outside the field, this term is commonly used to refer to people who speak many languages or have a great vocabulary.


An analogy between two objects or ideas; the analogy is conveyed by the use of a metaphorical word in place of some other word.


"Her eyes were glistening jewels" or "In Los Angeles traffic, the highways are a prison"

Metaphor also denotes rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison, or resemblance (e.g., antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy, and simile, which are all types of metaphor).

The English metaphor derives from the 16th-century Old French métaphore, from the Latin metaphora "carrying over", Greek (µetaf???) metaphorá “transfer”, from (µetaf???) metaphero “to carry over”, “to transfer” and from (µet?) meta “between” + (f???) phero, “to bear”, to carry”.

Types, terms, and categories:

A metaphor is more forceful (active) than an analogy, because metaphor asserts two things are the same, whereas analogy implies a difference; other rhetorical comparative figures of speech, such as metonymy, parable, simile, and synecdoche, are species of metaphor distinguished by how the comparison is communicated. The metaphor category also contains these specialized types:

An allegory is extended metaphor wherein a story illustrates an important attribute of the subject.

A catachresis: is a mixed metaphor used by design and accident (a rhetorical fault)

A Parable: is an extended metaphor narrated as an anecdote illustrating and teaching a moral lesson.

A dead metaphor is one in which the sense of the transferred image is absent. Examples: "to grasp a concept" and "to gather wjat you've understood" use physical action as a metaphor for understanding, most do not visualize the action; dead metaphors normally go unnoticed. Some people distinguish between a "dead metaphor" whose origin most speakers ignore, e.g. "to break the ice". Others use dead metaphor to denote both concepts, and generally use it to describe a metaphoric cliché.

An extended metaphor (conceit), establishes a principal subject (comparison) and subsidiary subjects (comparisons). The As You Like It quotation is a good example, the world is described as a stage, and then men and women are subsidiary subjects further described in the same context.

A mixed metaphor is one that leaps from one identification to a second identification inconsistent with the first. Example: "If we can hit that bullseye then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards... Checkmate."Quote from Futurama TV show character Zapp Brannigan.

Per Hans Blumenberg’s metaphorology, absolute metaphor denotes a figure or a concept that cannot be reduced to, or replaced with solely conceptual thought and language. Absolute metaphors, e.g. “light” (for “truth”) and “seafaring” (for “human existence”) – have distinctive meanings (unlike the literal meanings), and, thereby, function as orientations in the world, and as theoretic questions, such as presenting the world as a whole. Because they exist at the pre-predicative level, express and structure pragmatic and theoretical views of Man and the World.

Other types of metaphor have been identified as well, thoug the nomenclatures are not as universally accepted:

An absolute or paralogical metaphor (sometimes called an anti-metaphor) is one in which there is no discernible point of resemblance between the idea and the image. e.g. “light” as a metaphor for virtue.

An active metaphor is one which by contrast to a dead metaphor, is not part of daily language and is noticeable as a metaphor.

A complex metaphor is one which mounts one identification on another. Example: "That throws some light on the question." Throwing light is a metaphor: there is no actual light, and a question is not the sort of thing that can be lit up.

A compound or loose metaphor is one that catches the mind with several points of similarity. Example: "He has the wild stag's foot." This phrase suggests grace and speed as well as daring.

A dying metaphor is a pejorative term coined by George Orwell in his essay Politics and the English Language. Orwell defines a dying metaphor as a metaphor that isn't dead (dead metaphors are different, as they are treated like ordinary words), but has been worn out and is used because it saves people the trouble of inventing an original phrase for themselves. In short, a cliché. Example: Achilles' heel. Orwell suggests that writers scan their work for such dying forms that they have 'been seen regularly before in print' and replace them with alternative language patterns.

An epic metaphor or Homeric simile is an extended metaphor containing details about the vehicle that are not, in fact, necessary for the metaphoric purpose. This can be extended to humorous lengths, for instance: "This is a crisis. A large crisis. In fact, if you've got a moment, it's a twelve-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour porterage and an enormous sign on the roof saying 'This Is a Large Crisis.'" (Blackadder)

An implicit metaphor is one in which the tenor is not specified but implied. Example: "Shut your trap!" Here, the mouth of the listener is the unspecified tenor.

An implied or unstated metaphor is a metaphor not explicitly stated or obvious that compares two things by using adjectives that commonly describe one thing, but are used to describe another comparing the two. An example: "Golden baked skin", comparing bakery goods to skin or "green blades of nausea", comparing green grass to the pallor of a nauseated person or "leafy golden sunset" comparing the sunset to a tree in the fall.

A simple or tight metaphor is one in which there is but one point of resemblance between the tenor and the vehicle. Example: "Cool it". In this example, the vehicle, "Cool", is a temperature and nothing else, so the tenor, "it", can only be grounded to the vehicle by one attribute.

A submerged metaphor is one in which the vehicle is implied, or indicated by one aspect. Example: "my winged thought". Here, the audience must supply the image of the bird.

A synecdochic metaphor is a trope that is both a metaphor and a synecdoche in which a small part of something is chosen to represent the whole so as to highlight certain elements of the whole.

The term metaphor is also used for the following terms that are not a part of rhetoric:

A cognitive metaphor is the association of an object to an experience outside the object's environment.

A conceptual metaphor is an underlying association that is systematic in both language and thought.

A root metaphor is the underlying worldview that shapes an individual's understanding of a situation.

A therapeutic metaphor is an experience that allows one to learn about more than just that experience.

A visual metaphor provides a frame or window on experience.

Metaphors can also be implied and extended throughout pieces of literature. Source:


The use of a single characteristic or name of an object to identify an entire object or related object.



The White House released its official report today. — "The White House" for "The presidential administration"

The Crown has enacted a new social security policy. —"The Crown" for "The government of the United Kingdom".

A crowd of fifty heads —where "head" stands for person.

Put it on the plastic — material (plastic) for object (credit card)


Imitation, mimicry, mimic or make believe


Anything (especially something in verbal form) used to help remember something.


To remember the colours of the rainbow, use the mnemonic: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)


(linguistics) The smallest linguistic unit within a word that can carry a meaning, such as "un-", "break", and "-able" in the word "unbreakable".

The word pigs consists of two morphemes: pig (a particular animal) and s (indication of the plural).

The word werewolves' consists of morphemes: "were" (~ man), "wolf" (a particular animal), "es" (plural), and "'" (indicating possessive).

In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of morphemes and other units of meaning in a language like words, affixes, and parts of speech and intonation/stress, implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). Morphological typology represents a way of classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a language —from the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the agglutinative ("stuck-together") and fusional languages that use bound morphemes (affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress lots of separate morphemes into single words.

While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules (grammars). For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog and dogs are closely related — differentiated only by the plurality morpheme "-s," which is only found bound to nouns, and is never separate. Speakers of English (a fusional language) recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word formation in English. They infer intuitively that dog is to dogs as cat is to cats; similarly, dog is to dog catcher as dish is to dishwasher (in one sense). The rules understood by the speaker reflect specific patterns (or regularities) in the way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation within and across languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.

A language like Chinese instead uses unbound ("free") morphemes, but which depend on tone, post-phrase affixes, and word order to convey meaning:

"The dog ate my cat": ??????? Gloss:[dog-eat-[subject marker] my-[of]-cat]. (Pinyin: gou? chi? jí le liao? wo?de? mao?)

"The dogs ate my cat": ???,??[?]? Gloss: [my-of-cat, dog-eat] (Pinyin: wo?de? mao gou? chi? [jí]). Here a ? (jí) is implied by the word order, which (in turn) makes the act of eating plural, which indicates (in turn) to the plurality of "dog" as "dogs."

In the Chinese languages, these are understood as grammars that represent the morphology of the language. Beyond the agglutinative languages, a polysynthetic language like Chukchi will have words composed of many morphemes: The word "t?mey??levtp??t?rk?n" is composed of eight morphemes t-?-mey?-?-levt-p??t-?-rk?n, that can be glossed 1.SG.SUBJ-great-head-hurt-PRES.1, meaning 'I have a fierce headache.' The morphology of such languages allow for each consonant and vowel to be understood as morphemes, just as the grammars of the language key the usage and understanding of each morpheme. Source:

Morphology (linguistics):

The formation and composition of words:

In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language's morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation /stress, or implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). Morphological typology represents a method for classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a language —from the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the agglutinative ("stuck-together") and fusional languages that use bound morphemes affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress lots of separate morphemes into single words.

While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most languages, if not all, words can be related to other words by rules (grammars). For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog and dogs are closely related — differentiated only by the plurality morpheme "-s", which is only found bound to nouns, and is never separate. Speakers of English (a fusional language) recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word formation in English. They infer intuitively that dog is to dogs as cat is to cats; similarly, dog is to dog catcher as dish is to dishwasher, in one sense. The rules understood by the speaker reflect specific patterns, or regularities, in the way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation within and across languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.

A language like Classical Chinese instead uses unbound ("free") morphemes, but depends on post-phrase affixes, and word order to convey meaning. However, this cannot be said of present-day Mandarin, in which most words are compounds (around 80%), and most roots are bound.

In the Chinese languages, these are understood as grammars that represent the morphology of the language. Beyond the agglutinative languages, a polysynthetic language like Chukchi will have words composed of many morphemes: The word "təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən" is composed of eight morphemes t-ə-meyŋ-ə-levt-pəγt-ə-rkən, that can be glossed 1.SG.SUBJ-great-head-hurt-PRES.1, meaning 'I have a fierce headache.' The morphology of such languages allow for each consonant and vowel to be understood as morphemes, just as the grammars of the language key the usage and understanding of each morpheme.


The history of morphological analysis dates back to the ancient Indian linguist Pāṇini, who formulated the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology in the text Aṣṭādhyāyī by using a constituency grammar. The Greco-Roman grammatical tradition also engaged in morphological analysis. Studies in Arabic morphology, conducted by Marāḥ al-arwāḥ and Aḥmad b. ‘alī Mas‘ūd, date back to at least 1200 CE. [1]

The term morphology was coined by August Schleicher in 1859.[2]

Fundamental concepts

Lexemes and word forms

The distinction between these two senses of "word" is arguably the most important one in morphology. The first sense of "word", the one in which dog and dogs are "the same word", is called a lexeme. The second sense is called word form. We thus say that dog and dogs are different forms of the same lexeme. Dog and dog catcher, on the other hand, are different lexemes, as they refer to two different kinds of entities. The form of a word that is chosen conventionally to represent the canonical form of a word is called a lemma, or citation form.

Prosodic word vs. morphological word

Here are examples from other languages of the failure of a single phonological word to coincide with a single morphological word form. In Latin, one way to express the concept of 'NOUN-PHRASE1 and NOUN-PHRASE2' (as in "apples and oranges") is to suffix '-que' to the second noun phrase: "apples oranges-and", as it were. An extreme level of this theoretical quandary posed by some phonological words is provided by the Kwak'wala language. [3] In Kwak'wala, as in a great many other languages, meaning relations between nouns, including possession and "semantic case", are formulated by affixes instead of by independent "words". The three-word English phrase, "with his club", where 'with' identifies its dependent noun phrase as an instrument and 'his' denotes a possession relation, would consist of two words or even just one word in many languages. Unlike most languages, Kwak'wala semantic affixes phonologically attach not to the lexeme they pertain to semantically, but to the precedinglexeme. Consider the following example (in Kwakw'ala, sentences begin with what corresponds to an English verb): [4]

kwixʔid-i-dabəgwanəmai-χ-a q'asa-s-isi t'alwagwayu

Morpheme by morpheme translation:

kwixʔid-i-da = clubbed-PIVOT-DETERMINER

bəgwanəma-χ-a = man-ACCUSATIVE-DETERMINER


t'alwagwayu = club.

Notation notes:

1. accusative case marks an entity that something is done to.

2. determiners are words such as "the", "this", "that".

3. the concept of "pivot" is a theoretical construct that is not relevant to this discussion.)

That is, to the speaker of Kwak'wala, the sentence does not contain the "words" 'him-the-otter' or 'with-his-club' Instead, the markers -i-da (PIVOT-'the'), referring to man, attaches not to bəgwanəma ('man'), but instead to the "verb"; the markers -χ-a (ACCUSATIVE-'the'), referring to otter, attach to bəgwanəma instead of to q'asa ('otter'), etc. To summarize differently: a speaker of Kwak'wala does not perceive the sentence to consist of these phonological words:

kwixʔid i-da-bəgwanəma χ-a-q'asa s-isi-t'alwagwayu

clubbed PIVOT-the-mani hit-the-otter with-hisi-club

A central publication on this topic is the recent volume edited by Dixon and Aikhenvald (2007), examining the mismatch between prosodic-phonological and grammatical definitions of "word" in various Amazonian, Australian Aboriginal, Caucasian, Eskimo, Indo-European, Native North American, West African, and sign languages. Apparently, a wide variety of languages make use of the hybrid linguistic unit clitic, possessing the grammatical features of independent words but the prosodic-phonological lack of freedom of bound morphemes. The intermediate status of clitics poses a considerable challenge to linguistic theory.

Inflection vs. word formation

Given the notion of a lexeme, it is possible to distinguish two kinds of morphological rules. Some morphological rules relate to different forms of the same lexeme; while other rules relate to different lexemes. Rules of the first kind are called inflectional rules, while those of the second kind are called word formation. The English plural, as illustrated by dog and dogs, is an inflectional rule; compound phrases and words like dog catcher or dishwasher provide an example of a word formation rule. Informally, word formation rules form "new words" (that is, new lexemes), while inflection rules yield variant forms of the "same" word (lexeme).

There is a further distinction between two kinds of word formation: derivation and compounding. Compounding is a process of word formation that involves combining complete word forms into a single compound form; dog catcher is therefore a compound, because both dog and catcher are complete word forms in their own right before the compounding process has been applied, and are subsequently treated as one form. Derivation involves affixing bound (non-independent) forms to existing lexemes, whereby the addition of the affix derives a new lexeme. One example of derivation is clear in this case: the word independent is derived from the word dependent by prefixing it with the derivational prefix in-, while dependent itself is derived from the verb depend.

The distinction between inflection and word formation is not at all clear cut. There are many examples where linguists fail to agree whether a given rule is inflection or word formation. The next section will attempt to clarify this distinction.

Word formation is a process, as we have said, where you combine two complete words, whereas with inflection you can combine a suffix with some verb to change its form to subject of the sentence. For example: in the present indefinite, we use ‘go’ with subject I/we/you/they and plural nouns, whereas for third person singular pronouns (he/she/it) and singular nouns we use ‘goes’. So this ‘-es’ is an inflectional marker and is used to match with its subject. A further difference is that in word formation, the resultant word may differ from its source word’s grammatical category whereas in the process of inflection the word never changes its grammatical category.

Paradigms and morphosyntax

A linguistic paradigm is the complete set of related word forms associated with a given lexeme. The familiar examples of paradigms are the conjugations of verbs, and the declensions of nouns. Accordingly, the word forms of a lexeme may be arranged conveniently into tables, by classifying them according to shared inflectional categories such as tense, aspect, mood, number, gender or case. For example, the personal pronouns in English can be organized into tables, using the categories of person (first, second, third), number (singular vs. plural), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), and case (subjective, objective, and possessive). See English personal pronouns for the details.

The inflectional categories used to group word forms into paradigms cannot be chosen arbitrarily; they must be categories that are relevant to stating the syntactic rules of the language. For example, person and number are categories that can be used to define paradigms in English, because English has grammatical agreement rules that require the verb in a sentence to appear in an inflectional form that matches the person and number of the subject. In other words, the syntactic rules of English care about the difference between dog and dogs, because the choice between these two forms determines which form of the verb is to be used. In contrast, however, no syntactic rule of English cares about the difference between dog and dog catcher, or dependent and independent. The first two are just nouns, and the second two just adjectives, and they generally behave like any other noun or adjective behaves.

An important difference between inflection and word formation is that inflected word forms of lexemes are organized into paradigms, which are defined by the requirements of syntactic rules, whereas the rules of word formation are not restricted by any corresponding requirements of syntax. Inflection is therefore said to be relevant to syntax, and word formation is not. The part of morphology that covers the relationship between syntax and morphology is called morphosyntax, and it concerns itself with inflection and paradigms, but not with word formation or compounding.


In the exposition above, morphological rules are described as analogies between word forms: dog is to dogs as cat is to cats, and as dish is to dishes. In this case, the analogy applies both to the form of the words and to their meaning: in each pair, the first word means "one of X", while the second "two or more of X", and the difference is always the plural form -s affixed to the second word, signaling the key distinction between singular and plural entities.

One of the largest sources of complexity in morphology is that this one-to-one correspondence between meaning and form scarcely applies to every case in the language. In English, we have word form pairs like ox/oxen, goose/geese, and sheep/sheep, where the difference between the singular and the plural is signaled in a way that departs from the regular pattern, or is not signaled at all. Even cases considered "regular", with the final -s, are not so simple; the -s in dogs is not pronounced the same way as the -s in cats, and in a plural like dishes, an "extra" vowel appears before the -s. These cases, where the same distinction is effected by alternative forms of a "word", are called allomorphy.

Phonological rules constrain which sounds can appear next to each other in a language, and morphological rules, when applied blindly, would often violate phonological rules, by resulting in sound sequences that are prohibited in the language in question. For example, to form the plural of dish by simply appending an -s to the end of the word would result in the form *[dɪʃs], which is not permitted by the phonotactics of English. In order to "rescue" the word, a vowel sound is inserted between the root and the plural marker, and [dɪʃɪz] results. Similar rules apply to the pronunciation of the -s in dogs and cats: it depends on the quality (voiced vs. unvoiced) of the final preceding phoneme.

Lexical morphology

Lexical morphology is the branch of morphology that deals with the lexicon, which, morphologically conceived, is the collection of lexemes in a language. As such, it concerns itself primarily with word formation: derivation and compounding.


A neologism is a newly coined word that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. According to Oxford English Dictionary the term neologism was first used in print in 1483.

In psychiatry, the term neologism is used to describe the use of words that only have meaning to the person who uses them, independent of their common meaning.[1] This is considered normal in children, but a symptom of thought disorder (indicative of a psychotic mental illness, such as schizophrenia) in adults.

People with autism also may create neologisms.

Use of neologisms may also be related to aphasia acquired after brain damage resulting from a stroke or head injury.

In theology, a neologism is a relatively new doctrine (for example, rationalism). In this sense, a neologist is one who proposes either a new doctrine or a new interpretation of source material such as religious texts.

Neologisms are often created by combining existing words (see compound noun and adjective) or by giving words new and unique suffixes or prefixes.

Portmanteaux are combined words that begin to be used commonly. Neologisms also can be created through abbreviation or acronym, by intentionally rhyming with existing words or simply through playing with sounds.

Neologisms can become popular through memetics, by way of mass media, the Internet, and word of mouth, including academic discourse in many fields renowned for their use of distinctive jargon, and often become accepted parts of the language. Other times, however, they disappear from common use just as readily as they appeared. Whether a neologism continues as part of the language depends on many factors, probably the most important of which is acceptance by the public. It is unusual, however, for a word to enter common use if it does not resemble another word or words in an identifiable way.

When a word or phrase is no longer "new", it is no longer a neologism. Neologisms may take decades to become "old", however. Opinions differ on exactly how old a word must be to cease being considered a neologism.

Popular examples of neologism can be found in science, fiction, branding, literature, linguistic and popular culture. Examples include laser (1960) from Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, robotics (1941), genocide (1943), and agitprop (1930s).


Many neologisms have come from popular literature and tend to appear in different forms. Most commonly, they are simply taken from a word used in the narrative of a book; a few representative examples are: "grok" (to achieve complete intuitive understanding), from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; "McJob", from Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland; "cyberspace", from Neuromancer by William Gibson; "nymphet" from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Sometimes the title of a book becomes the neologism, for instance, Catch-22 (from the title of Joseph Heller's novel). Alternately, the author's name may become the neologism, although the term is sometimes based on only one work of that author. This includes such words as "Orwellian" (from George Orwell, referring to his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four) and "Ballardesque" or "Ballardian" (from J.G. Ballard, author of Crash). The word "sadistic" is derived from the cruel sexual practices Marquis de Sade described in his novels. Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle was the container of the Bokononism family of nonce words.

Another category is words derived from famous characters in literature, such as quixotic (referring to the titular character in Don Quixote de la Mancha by Cervantes), a scrooge (from the main character in Dickens's A Christmas Carol), or a pollyanna (from Eleanor H. Porter's book of the same name). James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, composed in a uniquely complex linguistic style, coined the words monomyth and quark.

Lewis Carroll has been called "the king of neologistic poems" because of his poem, "Jabberwocky", which incorporated dozens of invented words. The early modern English prose writings of Sir Thomas Browne are the source of many neologisms as recorded by the OED.

The children's book Frindle by Andrew Clements is a story about neologism.



Kodak, Kleenex


The process by which an abstract concept is treated as if it is a concrete thing or physical object. In this sense the term is synonym to reification.

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum[1] has argued that something is objectified if any of the following factors is present:

Instrumentality – if the thing is treated as a tool for one's own purposes;

Denial of autonomy – if the thing is treated as if lacking in agency or self-determination;

Inertness – if the thing is treated as if lacking in agency;

Ownership – if the thing is treated as if owned by another;

Fungibility – if the thing is treated as if interchangeable;

Violability – if the thing is treated as if permissible to smash;

Denial of subjectivity – if the thing is treated as if there is no need to show concern for the 'object's' feelings and experiences.

Sexual objectification refers to the practice of regarding or treating another person merely as an instrument (object) towards the person's sexual pleasure.



An obstruent is a consonant sound formed by obstructing airflow, causing increased air pressure in the vocal tract, such as [k], [d͡ʒ] and [f]. In phonetics, articulation may be divided into two large classes: obstruents and sonorants.

Obstruents are those articulations in which there is either a total closure of the vocal tract, or a partial closure, i.e. a stricture causing friction, both groups being associated with a noise component.

Obstruents are subdivided into stops (with total closure followed by an "explosive" release of air – hence the equivalent term plosive), affricates (with at first a stop-like total closure, followed by a more controlled, fricative-style release, i.e. a stricture causing friction), and fricatives (with only limited closure, i.e. no more than a steady stricture causing friction). Obstruents are prototypically voiceless, though voiced obstruents are common. This contrasts with sonorants, which are much more rarely voiceless.





Onomastics or Onomatology:

Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The words are from the Greek: "ὀνομαστικός" (onomastikos), "of or belonging to naming" [1] [2] and "ὀνοματολογία" (onomatologia), from "ὄνομα" (ónoma) "name" [3] Toponymy or toponomastics, the study of place names, is one of the principal branches of onomastics. Anthroponomastics is the study of personal names.


The property of a word of sounding like what it represents.

A word which has the property of onomatopoeia, such as "moo" or "hiss"


bang, beep, buzz, clash, cluck, plip, plonk, plop, whack, yuk, zap, zip.

Eponymous onomatopoeia: Ferrari


A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction (the adjustment of punctuation and spaces between words is generally permitted). Composing literature in palindromes is an example of constrained writing. The word "palindrome" was coined from Greek roots >pálin (πάλιν; "again") and drómos (δρóμος; "way, direction") by English writer Ben Jonson in the 1600s. The actual Greek phrase to describe the phenomenon is karkinikê epigrafê (καρκινική επιγραφή; crab inscription), or simply Tarkington (καρκινιήοι; crabs), alluding to the backward movement of crabs, like an inscription which can be read backwards.


civic, radar, level, rotators, kayak, rececar 22, 99, 101, 121


An ontological metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person.

The term "personification" may apply to:

A description of an object as being a living person or animal as in: "The sun shone brightly down on me as if she were shining for me alone". In this example the sun is depicted as if capable of intent, and is referenced with the pronoun "she" rather than "it".

An outstanding example of a quality or idea: "He's invisible, a walking personification of the Negative" (Ralph Ellison).

An artistic representation of an abstract quality or idea as a person, for example the four cardinal virtues or nine Muses. Source:


The study of the way sounds function in languages, including phonemes, syllable structure, stress, accent, intonation, and which sounds are distinctive units within a language.

The way sounds function within a given language.


Refers generally to the theory of literary discourse and specifically to the theory of poetry, although some speakers use the term so broadly as to denote the concept of “theory” itself.


USA Today, Kleenex, Google, Snapple, Oreo


The study of the physical sounds of human speech, concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds (phones), and the processes of their physiological production, auditory reception, and neurophysiological perception, and their representation by written symbols.

Portmanteau Word:

A word to describe a linguistic blend, namely" a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their meanings." This definition overlaps with the grammatical term contraction. As an example of the latter, the words do and not become the contraction don't, a single word that represents the meaning of the combined words. A distinction can be made between the portmanteau and a contraction by noting that contractions can only be formed with two words that would otherwise appear in sequence within the sentence, whereas a portmanteau word is typically formed by combining two or more existing words that all relate to a singular concept which the portmanteau word is meant to describe. An example is the well-known portmanteau word "Spanglish", referring to speaking a mix of both Spanish and English spoken between bilingual people. In this case, there is no logical situation in which the speaker would say "Spanish English" in place of the portmanteau word in the same way they could say "do not" in place of the contraction "don't", or "we are" in place of "we're".

A word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)


Examples of "portmanteau" in this sense appeared in Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking-Glass (1871),[1] in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky,[8] where "slithy" means "lithe and slimy" and "mimsy" is "flimsy and miserable". Humpty Dumpty tries to justify his habit of changing the meaning of words and combining them in various ways by telling Alice,

'When I use a word... it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master—that's all.'

In his introduction to The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll uses "portmanteau" when discussing lexical selection:

Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "frumious."

The word "portmanteau" itself was converted by Carroll to describe the concept. "Portmanteau" comes from French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum). In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase. In modern French, a portemanteau (or porte-manteaux) is a clothes valet, a coat-tree or similar article of furniture for hanging up jackets, hats, umbrellas and the like.

The original "Gerrymander" pictured in an 1812 cartoon. The word is a portmanteau of Massachusetts Governor Gerry's name, with "salamander"

Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon. In Punch in 1896, the word brunch (breakfast + lunch) was introduced as a "portmanteau word." The word "smog" was coined around 1893 or 1905 as a portmanteau of "smoke" and "fog". In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name.

"Wikipedia" is an example of a portmanteau word because it combines the word "wiki" with the word "encyclopedia."

Portmanteau words may be produced by joining together proper nouns with common nouns, such as "gerrymandering," which refers to the scheme of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry for politically contrived redistricting: one of the districts created resembled a salamander in outline.

Some city names are portmanteaux of the regions they straddle: Texarkana spreads across the Texas-Arkansas border, while Calexico and Mexicali are respectively the American and Mexican sides of a single conurbation.

Brand names:

"FedEx" portmanteaus "federal" and "express". "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track." "Conrail" is a portmanteau of the words "consolidated" and "rail." "AmEx" is a portmanteau of the word "American" and "Express," although these may well be thought of as mere contractions.

Many portmanteau words receive some usage but do not (yet) appear in all dictionaries. For example, a spork is an eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and fork. A skort is an item of clothing that is part skirt, part shorts. The Pegacorn is a creature that is combined with pegasus and unicorn. Another creature that is part lion and part tiger is a liger or a tigon.

The Iconic "Merlion" in Singapore's harbour is a combination of a Mermaid and a Lion.

"Jeoportmanteau!" is a recurring category on the American television quiz show Jeopardy!. The category's name is itself a portmanteau of "Jeopardy" and "portmanteau". Responses in the category are portmanteaus constructed by fitting two words together. For example, the clue "Brett Favre or John Elway plus a knapsack" yielded the response "What is a 'quarterbackpack'?" Blaxploitation is a film genre/style, whose name derives from a portmanteau of "black" and "exploitation," reflecting its main theme of social problems, along with the stereotypical depiction of Black people in film.

Two proper names can also be used in creating a portmanteau word in reference to the partnership between people, especially in cases where both persons are well-known, or sometimes to produce epithets such as "Billary" (referring to former United States president Bill Clinton and his wife, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). In this example of recent American political history, the purpose for blending is not so much to combine the meanings of the source words but "to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other"; the effect is often derogatory, as linguist Benjamin Zimmer notes.] In contrast, the public and even the media use portmanteaux to refer to their favorite pairings as a way to "...giv[e] people an essence of who they are within the same name." This is particularly seen in cases of fictional and real-life "supercouples." An early and well-known example, Bennifer, referred to film stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Other examples include Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), and TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). In double-barreled names, the hyphen is almost pushing one name away from the other.[ Meshing says "I am you and you are me," notes one expert.

Portmanteaux can also be created by attaching a prefix or suffix from one word to give that association to other words. Subsequent to the Watergate scandal, it became popular to attach the suffix "-gate" to other words to describe contemporary scandals, e.g. "Filegate" for the White House FBI files controversy, Nipplegate, and Spygate, an incident involving the 2007 New England Patriots. Likewise, the suffix "-holism" or "-holic," taken from the word "alcoholism" or "alcoholic," can be added to a noun, creating a word that describes an addiction to that noun. Chocoholic, for instance, means a person who is "addicted" to chocolate. Also, the suffix "-athon" is often appended to other words to connote a similarity to a marathon (for example, telethon, phonathon, and walkathon). Adding the prefix "e-" to a noun indicates that it is related to computers (such as "e-mail" and "e-learning").

Contemporary portmanteau include Bridezilla (a marriage of the words "bride" and "Godzilla" to describe a demanding bride-to-be) and "Gleek" (from "glee" and "geek," and signifying a fan of the television series Glee). Another example is fans of the movie Twilight and coined by the term "Twi-Hards" originating from "Die-hard" and "Twilight". Source:


The collection of lexemes in a language. As such, it concerns itself primarily with word formation: derivation and compounding.

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. [1] It studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge (e.g. grammar, lexicon etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and so on.[2] In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance.[1] The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence. So an utterance describing pragmatic function is described as metapragmatic. Pragmatic awareness is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of language learning, and comes only through experience.


The word pragmatics derives via Latin pragmaticus from the Greek πραγματικός (pragmatikos), meaning amongst others "fit for action", [3] which comes from πρᾶγμα (pragma), "deed, act",[4] and that from πράσσω (prassō), "to pass over, to practise, to achieve". [5]

The sentence "You have a green light" is ambiguous. Without knowing the context, the identity of the speaker, and their intent, it is not possible to infer the meaning with confidence. For example:

It could mean you have green ambient lighting.

Or that you have a green light while driving your car.

Or it could be indicating that you can go ahead with the project.

Or that your body has a green glow.

Or that you have in your possession a light bulb that is tinted green.

Similarly, the sentence "Sherlock saw the man with binoculars" could mean that Sherlock observed the man by using binoculars; or it could mean that Sherlock observed a man who was holding binoculars. [6] The meaning of the sentence depends on an understanding of the context and the speaker's intent. As defined in linguistics, a sentence is an abstract entity — a string of words divorced from non-linguistic context — as opposed to an utterance, which is a concrete example of a speech act in a specific context. The closer conscious subjects stick to common words, idioms, phrasings, and topics, the more easily others can surmise their meaning; the further they stray from common expressions and topics, the wider the variations in interpretations. This suggests that sentences do not have meaning intrinsically; there is not a meaning associated with a sentence or word, they can only symbolically represent an idea. The cat sat on the mat is a sentence of English; if you say to your sister on Tuesday afternoon: "The cat sat on the mat", this is an example of an utterance. Thus, there is no such thing as a sentence, term, expression or word symbolically representing a single true meaning; it is underspecified (which cat sat on which mat?) and potentially ambiguous. The meaning of an utterance, on the other hand, is inferred based on linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the non-linguistic context of the utterance (which may or may not be sufficient to resolve ambiguity). In mathematics with Berry's paradox there arose a systematic ambiguity with the word "definable". The ambiguity with words shows that the descriptive power of any human language is limited.


Pragmatics was a reaction to structuralist linguistics as outlined by Ferdinand de Saussure. In many cases, it expanded upon his idea that language has an analyzable structure, composed of parts that can be defined in relation to others. Pragmatics first engaged only in synchronic study, as opposed to examining the historical development of language. However, it rejected the notion that all meaning comes from signs existing purely in the abstract space of langue. Meanwhile, historical pragmatics has also come into being.

Product Naming:

The discipline of deciding what a product will be called, is very similar in concept and approach to the process of deciding on a name for a company or organization. Product naming is considered a critical part of the branding process, which includes all of the marketing activities that affect the brand image, such as positioning and the design of logo, packaging and the product itself.

Product naming involves the application of creative and linguistic strategy and results in a brand name that becomes a product’s shorthand.

The process involved in product naming can take months or years to complete. Some key steps include specifying the objectives of the branding, developing the product name itself, evaluating names through target market testing and focus groups, choosing a final product name, and finally identifying it as a trademark.

1 Principles

2 Types of names

2.1 Descriptive

2.2 Suggestive

2.3 Arbitrary

2.4 Fanciful

3 Product naming techniques

4 Trademarks

5 International considerations

5.1 Product naming faux pas

A key ingredient in launching a successful company is the selection of its name.[2] Product names that are considered generally sound have several qualities in common.

They strategically distinguish the product from its competitors by conveying its unique positioning

They hold appeal for the product’s target audience

They imply the brand’s benefit

They are available for legal protection.

They allow companies to bond with their customers to create loyalty.

They have a symbolic association that fortifies the image of a company or a product to the consumers.

They help motivate customers to buy the product.

They can buy a product image and name.

Types of names:

Brand names for American products typically fall into one of four categories: descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary and fanciful.


Descriptive names ascribe to the product a characteristic, feature, ingredient, appearance or geographic location. Examples of descriptive product names include Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Florida Orange Juice, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Transitions Lenses.

Descriptive product names can be overly long. Also, these names can become genericized and turned into a category name instead of a brand, exemplified by Rollerblade and Dry Ice.


Suggestive names, the second type of names, suggest or hint at a product’s key features or benefits. They are allusive and are often formed by metaphors, allusions or simile.

Suggestive product naming is common in business-to-consumer categories such as food and household goods. Bounty paper towels, Hershey’s Kisses candy, Always feminine products, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleaning product are all examples of suggestive product names that are meant to imply a variety of positive associations to consumers. Both descriptive and suggestive names are composed only of natural English words that either work alone or in combination to form a literal or abstract name.


The third category of names, arbitrary, do not describe a product or literally suggest a product meaning. They are likewise not adapted from features or benefits of the product. They are literally arbitrary. Arbitrary names can be made up of either coined or natural words. Apple, for example, was created because Steve Jobs worked on an apple farm and also believed apples to be the perfect fruit.

Fanciful or coined names, also referred to as neologisms, are often perceived as a recent phenomenon and as "completely made up," although neither of these assumptions is true. They have been popular in the United States for more than a century, evidenced by established brands like Crayola, Coca-Cola, Jell-O and Kool Aid. These product names are so readily understood that, to many people, they simply do not sound coined.

Names that are usually judged to be the most effective are "meaningfully coined"; that is, they are built on descriptive or suggestive words that have meaning for the target market. Examples are Lunchables (“lunch” + “ability”) and Motorola’s RAZR (a stylized re-spelling of “razor,” which alludes to the cell phone’s thin profile).

Product naming techniques:

Linguistically, names are developed by combining morphemes, phonemes and syntax to create a desired representation of a product.

Morphemes differ from words in that many morphemes may not be able to stand alone. The Sprint name is composed of a single word and a single morpheme. Conversely, a brand like Acuvue is composed of two morphemes, each with a distinct meaning. While "vue" may be able to stand as its own word, "acu" is seen as a prefix or a bound morpheme that must connect to a free morpheme like "vue."

Phonemes are minimal units of sound. Depending on the speaker’s accent, the English language has about 44 phonemes. In product naming, names that are phonetically easy to pronounce and that are well balanced with vowels and consonants have an advantage over those that are not. Likewise, names that begin with or stress plosive consonant sounds B, hard C, D, G, K, P or T are often used because of their attention-getting quality. Some phoneme sounds in English, for example L, V, F and W are thought of as feminine, while others such as X, M and Z are viewed as masculine.

Syntax, or word order, is key to consumers’ perceptions of a product name. Banana Republic would not carry the same meaning were it changed to "Republic Banana." Syntax also has significant implications for the naming of global products, because syntax has been argued to cross the barrier from one language to another.

Some specific product naming techniques, including a combination of morphemes, phonemes and syntax are shown in the table below.

OxymoronKrispy Kreme
TautologyCrown Royal
EponymTrump Tower
DescriptionCinnamon Toast Crunch
PoeticsUSA Today
AllusionLondon Fog
HaplologyLand O'Lakes
Morphological borrowingNikon
Acronym adaptationBMW



In linguistics, prosody (pronounced ˈ/prɒsədi/ pross-ə-dee) is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance (statement, question, or command); the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or choice of vocabulary.


A rhetorical device or resource of language is a technique that an author or speaker uses to convey to the listener or reader a meaning with the goal of persuading him or her towards considering a topic from a different perspective. While rhetorical devices may be used to evoke an emotional response in the audience, there are other reasons to use them. The goal of rhetoric is to persuade towards a particular frame of view or a particular course of action, so appropriate rhetorical devices are used to construct sentences designed both to make the audience receptive through emotional changes and to provide a rational argument for the frame of view or course of action.

Two rhetorical devices are irony and metaphor.

The use of irony in rhetoric is primarily to convey to the audience an incongruity that is often used as a tool of humor in order to deprecate or ridicule an idea or course of action.

The use of metaphor in rhetoric is primarily to convey to the audience a new idea or meaning by linking it to an existing idea or meaning with which the audience is already familiar. By making the new appear to be linked to or a type of the old and familiar, the person using the metaphor hopes to help the audience understand the new.

An example of rhetorical device is this passage attributed to a speech by Abraham Lincoln about a political adversary in which Lincoln said that his adversary had "dived down deeper into the sea of knowledge and come up drier than any other man he knew".

This attributed quote uses a body of water as a metaphor for a body of knowledge with the ironical idea of someone who gained so little from his education that he achieved the impossible of jumping into a body of water and climbing back out without getting wet. Source:


A branch of linguistics studying the meaning of words.

Semantics is a foundation of lexicography.

The study of the relationship between words and their meanings.

The individual meanings of words, as opposed to the overall meaning of a passage.

The semantics of the terms used are debatable.

The semantics of a single preposition is a dissertation in itself.


The study of signs and symbols, especially as means of language or communication.


A figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another, in the case of English generally using like or as.

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” — Irina Dunn, 1970

A simile is like a metaphor.


In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant is a speech sound that is produced without turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; fricatives and plosives (for example, /z/ and /d/, respectively) are not sonorants. Vowels are sonorants, as are consonants like /m/ and /l/. Other consonants, like /d/ or /s/, restrict the airflow enough to cause turbulence, and so are non-sonorant. In addition to vowels, phonetic categorizations of sounds that are considered sonorant include approximants, nasal consonants, taps, and trills. In the sonority hierarchy, all sounds higher than fricatives are sonorants. They can therefore form the nucleus of a syllable in languages that place that distinction at that level of sonority; see Syllable for details.

Sonorants are those articulations in which there is only a partial closure or an unimpeded oral or nasal scape of air; such articulations, typically voiced, and frequently frictionless, without noise component, may share many phonetic characteristics with vowels.

The word resonant is sometimes used for these non-turbulent sounds. In this case, the word sonorant may be restricted to non-vocoid resonants; that is, all of the above except vowels and semivowels. However, this usage is becoming dated.

Sonorants contrast with obstruents, which do cause turbulence in the vocal tract. Among consonants pronounced far back in the throat uvulars, pharyngeals) the distinction between an approximant and a voiced fricative is so blurred that such sounds as voiced uvular fricative ([ʁ]) and voiced pharyngeal fricative ([ʕ]) often behave like sonorants. The pharyngeal consonant is also a semivowel corresponding to the vowel [ɑ].

Whereas most obstruents are voiceless, the great majority of sonorants are voiced. It is certainly possible to make voiceless sonorants, but sonorants that are unvoiced occur as phonemic in only about 5 percent of the world's languages.[1] These are almost exclusively found in the area around the Pacific Ocean from New Caledonia clockwise to South America and belong to a number of language families, among them Austronesian, Sino-Tibetan, Na-Dene and Eskimo–Aleut. An example from a different part of the world is Welsh, which contains a phonemic voiceless alveolar trill[r̥]. It is notable that, in every case where a voiceless sonorant does occur, there is a contrasting voiced sonorant (i. e., whenever a language contains a phoneme such as [r̥], it also contains a corresponding voiced phoneme, [r] in this case). [citation needed

Voiceless sonorants tend to be extremely quiet and very difficult to recognize even for those people whose language does contain them. They have a strong tendency to either re voice or undergo fortition to form for example a fricative like ç or ɬ.

Examples of sonorants:

A typical sonorant inventory found in many languages comprises the following: two nasals /m/, /n/, two semivowels /w/, /j/, and two liquids /l/, /r/.

English has the following sonorant consonantal phonemes: /l/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /ɹ/, /w/, /j/.[2]

And in Italian the sonorants are /j/, /w/, /r/, /l/, /ʎ/, /m/, /n/ and /ɲ/.

Sound Symbolism:

Sound symbolism or phonosemantics is a branch of linguistics and refers to the idea that vocal sounds have meaning. In particular, sound symbolism is the idea that phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves.


In phonology, (pronounced /ˈsɪŋkəpiː/, Greek syn- + koptein “to strike, cut off”) is the loss of one or more sounds from the interior of a word; especially, the loss of an unstressed vowel.

As a historical sound change:

In historical phonetics, the term "syncope" is often but not always limited to the loss of an unstressed vowel:

Loss of any sound:

Old English hláford > English lord

English Worcester, pronounced /ˈwʊstər/

English Gloucester, pronounced /ˈɡlɒstər/

Loss of an unstressed vowel:

Latin cál[i]dum > Italian caldo "hot"

Latin óc[u]lum > Italian occhio "eye"

Latin trem[u]láre > Italian tremare "to tremble"

As a poetic device:

Sounds may be removed from the interior of a word as a rhetorical or poetic device, whether for embellishment or for the sake of the meter.

Latin commo[ve]rat > poetic commorat ("he had moved")

English hast[e]ning > poetic hast'ning

English heav[e]n > poetic heav'n

English over > poetic o'er

Syncope in informal speech:

Various sorts of colloquial reductions might be called "syncope". It is also called compression. [1]

Forms such as "didn't" that are written with an apostrophe are, however, generally called contractions:

English [Au]stra[lia]n > colloquial Strine

English go[i]n[g t]o> gonna

English wan[t t]o > wanna

English did n[o]t > didn't

English do[n't k]no[w] > dunno

English I [woul]d [ha]ve > I'd've


(pronounced /sɪˈnɛkdəkiː/; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech[1] in which a term is used in one of the following ways:

Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (Pars pro toto), or

A thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it (Totum pro parte), or

A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or

A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, or

A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material, or

A container is used to refer to its contents.

Similar figures of speech:

Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy (the figure of speech in which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing); indeed, synecdoche is sometimes considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor.

More rigorously, metonymy and synecdoche may be considered as sub-species of metaphor, intending metaphor as a type of conceptual substitution (as Quintilian does in Institutio oratoria Book VIII). In Lanham's Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, [2] the three terms have somewhat restrictive definitions, arguably in tune with a certain interpretation of their etymologies from Greek:

metaphor: changing a word from its literal meaning to one not properly applicable but analogous to it; assertion of identity rather than, as with simile, likeness.

metonymy: substitution of cause for effect, proper name for one of its qualities, etc.

synecdoche: substitution of a part for whole, species for genus, etc.


The word "synecdoche" is derived from the Greek word συνεκδοχή, from the prepositions συν- + εκ- and the verb δέχομαι (= "I accept"), originally meaning accepting a part as responsible for the whole, or vice versa.

The use of synecdoche is a common way to emphasize an important aspect of a fictional character; for example, a character might be consistently described by a single body part, such as the eyes, which come to represent the character. This is often used when the main character does not know or care about the names of the characters that he/she is referring to.

Also, sonnets and other forms of love poetry frequently use synecdoches to characterize the beloved in terms of individual body parts rather than a whole, coherent self. This practice is especially common in the Petrarchan sonnet, where the idealized beloved is often described part by part, from head to toe.


A part referring to the whole.

Referring to people according to a single characteristic:

"the gray beard" for an older man or "the long hair" for a hippie This leads to bahuvrihi compounds.

Describing a complete vehicle as "wheels"

Calling a worker "a pair of hands"

All "hands" on deck

Before and during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was commonly referred to by its largest and most well-known member, Russia.

A whole thing referring to a part of it.

"The city posted a sign," which means that an employee of the local government (but not the geographic location or all of its residents) posted a sign.

"Capitol Hill" when referring to the US Legislature.

A general class name used to denote a specific member of that or an associated class.

"truck" for any four-wheel drive vehicle (as well as long-haul trailers, etc.).

He's good people. [Here, the word "people" is used to denote a specific instance of people, i.e. a person. So the sentence would be interpreted as "He's a good person.")

A specific class name used to refer to a general set of associated things.

"John Hancock" for the signature of any person.

"bug" for any kind of insect or spider, even if it is not a true bug

A genericized trademark, for example "Coke" for any variety of cola

The material that a thing is made of referring to that thing.

"Steel" for a sword.

"Willow" for a cricket bat or "pigskin" for an American or Canadian football.

"Plastic" for credit cards.

"Lead" for bullets.

"Silver" for flatware or other dishes that were once made of silver metal.

"Rubber" for a condom

"threads" for clothing

A container is used to refer to its contents.

"Barrel" for a barrel of oil.

fifty head of cattle — part (head) for whole (animal).

a fleet of ships, fifty sail deep — part (sail) for whole (ship)

the police knocked down my door — whole (the police) for part (some police officers)

the cat stalks the gazelle — class (cat) for subclass (e.g., cheetah)

hand me a Kleenex — subclass (brand named product) for class (all similar products)

China maintains closer high-level ties with Pyongyang — country (China) for its government (Chinese government) and capital (Pyongyang) for its country (North Korea)

(rhetoric) A figure or trope by which a part of a thing is put for the whole, the whole for a part, the species for the genus, the genus for the species, or the name of the material for the thing made, and similar.

(rhetoric) The use of synecdoche; synecdochy.

Tautology & Pleonasm:

1. Needless or meaningless repetition in close succession of an idea, statement, or word: PLEONASM, REDUNDANCY <a certain tautology in describing any act of society as social -- Foreign Affairs> (2) : an instance of such repetition <the phrase "a beginner who has just started" is a tautology> <a speech full of tautologies> b : a tautologous statement

2. Repetition of an act or experience <the tautology of two drunken brawls in the same scene>

In rhetoric, a tautology is an unnecessary or unessential (and sometimes unintentional) repetition of meaning, using different and dissimilar words that effectively say the same thing twice (often originally from different languages). It is often regarded as a fault of style and was defined by Fowler as "saying the same thing twice." It is not apparently necessary or essential for the entire meaning of a phrase to be repeated. If a part of the meaning is repeated in such a way that it appears as unintentional, clumsy, or lacking in dexterity, then it may be described as tautology. On the other hand, a repetition of meaning which improves the style of a piece of speech or writing is not necessarily described as tautology.

A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the propositions is guaranteed or that the truth of the propositions cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self-referentially. Consequently, the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived. A rhetorical tautology should not be confused with a tautology in propositional logic, since the inherent meanings and subsequent conclusions in rhetorical and logical tautologies are very different.

Tautology and Pleonasm:

Tautology and pleonasm are not the same thing. Pleonasm is the use of an unnecessary word that is implicit in the word it describes: A round circle. A big giant. Tautology is a repetition of the same idea in different words: A huge great big man. Say it over again once more. (Say it over. Say it again. Say it once more.) The crucial difference is that "Repeat it again" is a pleonasm, because again is inherent to "repeat". Repeat and again do not simply mean the same thing, which means that this is not a tautological repetition of the same thing in a different word – just as tuna and fish are not the same thing.

Redundant expansion of acronyms: RAS syndrome

In some cases an acronym or abbreviation is commonly used in conjunction with a word which is actually part of the shortened form. One of the better known examples of this is "PIN number", which is often used when explaining the concept. Other common examples include ATM machine, ISBN number, HIV virus, UPC code, VIN number, DVD disk and RAID array. This phenomenon is humorously, self-referentially referred to as RAS syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome).

repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence.

With malice toward none, with charity for all. Lincoln, Second Inaugural



Taxonomy (from Ancient Greek: τάξις taxis "arrangement" and Ancient Greek: νομία  nomia "method"[1]) is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification.


We might remember taxonomy lists from our biology classes. This is the classical meaning most associated with taxonomy. For our purposes here we are talking about a structure/method of classifying and categorizing words, creating lists.


The name of a god.


Definition - A name — especially a product name — that has been derived from the name of an animal.

Example:Ford Mustang, Mercury Sable, Snoop Dogg — but not Cybill Shepherd.

Etymology - The English combining form thero (meaning "beast") derives from the Greek ther, wild beast.

Oxford English Dictionary - There is no OED citation for the term.



A consideration companies find important in developing a product name is its "trademarkability." Product name trademarks may be established in a number of ways:

In many countries, including the United States, names can be used as trademarks without formal registration through first use or common law—simply to protect an established product’s name and reputation.

Product names can be formally registered within a state, with protection limited to that state’s borders.

In the United States, a federal trademark registration is filed with the USPTO and offered protection for as long as the mark is in use.

The preeminent system for registering international trademarks in multiple jurisdictions is the Madrid system.

In addition, protecting a trademark is just as important as the initial process of registration. Trademark rights are maintained through actual use of the trademark, and will diminish over time if a trademark is not actively used.

International considerations

Because English is widely viewed as a global language, with over 380 million native speakers, many international trademarks are created in English. Still, language differences present difficulties when using a trademark internationally.

Product naming faux pas

Many companies have stumbled across the importance of considering language differences in marketing new products.

Ford Caliente, meaning "hot" in Spanish, is also slang in many countries for "streetwalker."

Irish Mist introduced its drink brand in Germany without knowing that "mist" is German slang for excrement.

A Spanish potato chip brand called Bum did not sell well in the United States due to the negative connotations it carried.

When French speakers pronounce the Toyota MR-2 product name, it sounds like "merdeux", a profane word equivalent to the English "shitty."

Reebok named a women’s sneaker Incubus.[8] In medieval folklore, an incubus was a demon who ravished women in their sleep.

One firm[who?] tried to sell a de-icer in the United States by the name "Super-Piss."[citation needed]

Nissan sought to sell a sports car in the United States in the early 1970s called"Fair Lady." It later sold better as the 240Z.

The Honda Fitta was renamed Jazz after discovering that fitta is Norwegian and Swedish slang for the female genitals.

The MitsubishiPajero was named 'Montero' (mountaineer, highlander) in Spain because pajero means 'wanker' in colloquial Spanish.

The Buick LaCrosse was originally sold as Buick Allure in Canada because the French translation of LaCrosse means 'self love' (or 'swindle') in Quebecois slang.

See the official website for trademark information & registration.

Verisimilitude (or truthlikeness ):

The quality of realism in something (such as film, literature, the arts, etc).

The appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability

Competing Ideas of Verisimilitude

The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory. This problem was central to the philosophy of Karl Popper, largely because Popper was among the first to affirm that truth is the aim of scientific inquiry while acknowledging that most of the greatest scientific theories in the history of science are strictly speaking false. If this long string of purportedly false theories is to constitute progress with respect to the goal of truth then it must be at least possible for one false theory to be closer to the truth than others.

Popper assumed that scientists are interested in highly informative theories, in part for methodological reasons—the more informative a theory, the easier it is to test, and the greater its predictive power. But clearly informative power by itself is rather easy to come by, and we do not want to gain content by sacrificing truths. So Popper proposed that closeness to the truth is a function of two factors — truth and content. The more truths that a theory entails (other things being equal) the closer it is to the truth.

Intuitively at least, it seems that Newton's theory of motion entails a good many more truths than does, say, Aristotle's theory - despite the fact that both are known to be false. Even two true theories can have differing degrees of verisimilitude, depending on how much true information they deliver. For example, the claim that "it will be raining on Thursday next week", if true, is closer to the truth than the true but logically weaker claim that "it will either be raining next Thursday or it will be sunny'".

Popper's formal definition of Verisimilitude was challenged, by Pavel Tichý[1] and David Miller.[2] They argue that they have shown that Popper's definition has the following unintended consequence: that no false theory could be closer to the truth than another. This result gave rise to a search for an account of verisimilitude that did not deem progess towards the truth an impossibility. Some of the new theories (e.g. Miller, Kuipers) build on Popper's approach, guided by the notion that truthlikeness is a function of a truth factor and a content factor. Others (e.g. Schurz, Weingartner, Mortenson, Gemes) are also inspired by Popper's approach but locate what they believe to be the error of Popper's proposal in his overly generous notion of content, or consequence, proposing instead that the consequences that contribute to closeness to truth must be, in a technical sense, "relevant". A different approach (e.g. Tichý, Hilpinen, Niiniluoto, Oddie) takes the "likeness" in truthlikeness literally, holding that a proposition's likeness to the truth is a function of the overall likeness to the actual world of the possible worlds in which the proposition would be true. [3] There is currently a debate about whether or to what extent these different approaches to the concept are compatible. [4]

Another important problem in Popper's theory of verisimilitude, which is not so deeply discussed in some of the more recent, technical approaches to the question, is the connection between truthlikeness as the goal of scientific progress, on the one hand, and methodology, on the other hand, as the ways in which we can to some extent ensure that scientific research actually approaches this goal. Popper conceived of his definition as a justification of his own preferred methodology: falsificationism, in the following sense: suppose theory A is closer to the truth than theory B according to Popper's qualitative definition of verisimilitude; in this case, we will (or should, if that definition had been logically sound) have that all true consequences of B are consequences of A, and that all false consequences of A are consequences of B; this means that, if A and B are so related, then it should be the case that all known false empirical consequences of A also follow from B, and all known true empirical consequences of B do follow from A. So, if A were closer to the truth than B, then A should be better corroborated than B by any possible amount of empirical evidence. Lastly, this easy theorem allows to interpret the fact that A is actually better corroborated than B as a corroboration of the hypothesis (or 'meta-hypothesis') that A is more verisimilar than B.

The following question remains: if the goal of science is to find out more and more verisimilar theories, what kind of methods must scientist follow?[5]

Sources: if not already cited. Websters Unabridged Dictionary;;


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