from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The substitution of a title or epithet for a proper name, as in calling a sovereign “Your Majesty.”
  • noun The substitution of a personal name for a common noun to designate a member of a group or class, as in calling a traitor a “Benedict Arnold.”

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In rhetoric, the substitution of an epithet, or of the appellative of some office, dignity, profession, science, or trade, for the true name of a person, as when his majesty is used for a king, his lordship for a nobleman, or the philosopher for Aristotle; conversely, the use of a proper noun in the place of a common noun: as, a Cato for a man of severe gravity, or a Solomon for a wise man.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Rhet.) The use of some epithet or the name of some office, dignity, or the like, instead of the proper name of the person; as when his majesty is used for a king, or when, instead of Aristotle, we say, the philosopher; or, conversely, the use of a proper name instead of an appellative, as when a wise man is called a Solomon, or an eminent orator a Cicero.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun rhetoric The substitution of an epithet or title in place of a proper noun
  • noun rhetoric Use of a proper name to suggest its most obvious quality or aspect.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin, from Greek antonomazein, to name instead : anti-, instead of; see anti– + onomazein, to name (from onoma, name; see nŏ̄-men- in Indo-European roots).]


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  • It is not for Mr. Buckley to admit to an inattentive memory and careless writing when the polysyllabic evasion of "antonomasia" is available.

    Happy Days Are Here Again Dunne, John Gregory 1983

  • He blithely absolves this libel as an example of "antonomasia" ( "the use of a proper name to express a general idea," OED), saying rather too airily that in this instance he meant a "Pat Boone-type" to imply any crooner of the well-scrubbed variety.

    Happy Days Are Here Again Dunne, John Gregory 1983

  • Alma: ¡Profe, a mi, por antonomasia me debe tocar el azul!

    enelmundo Diary Entry enelmundo 2003

  • More or less by antonomasia, an erudite word that I met only many years after and learned the meaning of ...

    José Saramago - Nobel Lecture 1998

  • Garibaldi was always or almost always victorious (in reality he fought brilliant guerrilla skirmishes which piety later turned into vast and tidy battles); he was the first to be called Il Duce, a pompous nineteenth-century opera libretto title, by antonomasia (Mussolini had been called Il Duce by his socialist followers before 1914 and took the title with him to the Fascist party).

    The Not So Great Dictator Barzini, Luigi 1974

  • By antonomasia, the word has come to designate also the good work itself, in so far as it deserves a reward from the person in whose service it was performed.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman 1840-1916 1913

  • These, by the extension of the generic term to specifically designate a new subdivision, are, by antonomasia, called gratuitously given graces

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI 1840-1916 1913

  • Nestorians call the Bishop of Mopsuestia, by antonomasia, the

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability 1840-1916 1913

  • ‘IN Florence, a rich and famous city of Italy, in the province called Tuscany, there dwelt two rich and principal gentlemen called Anselmo and Lothario, which two were so great friends, as they were named for excellency, and by antonomasia, by all those that knew them, the Two Friends.

    The Fourth Book. VI. Wherein Is Rehearsed the History of the Curious-Impertinent 1909

  • What is generally called art, by antonomasia, collects intuitions that are wider and more complex than those which we generally experience, but these intuitions are always of sensations and impressions.

    Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic Benedetto Croce 1909


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  • The use of a trademark to describe a generic item, such as Kleenex for tissue or Jello for gelatin.

    November 11, 2007

  • Or Band-Aid for adhesive bandage. Doesn't someone have a list of these? Klaxon, Klieg... wait... is it me?!

    Edit: Wow. It is.

    November 11, 2007

  • Hahaha! I was just going to remind you that it was you, c_b.

    November 11, 2007

  • Hehehe. Did you redo your lists, c_b? I *know* that your second list didn't used to be a Tunie.

    November 12, 2007

  • No jennarenn--I think the order was reversed somehow, so the latest lists are at the top. Isn't that what happened to everyone's, when John did some nifty thing recently?

    November 12, 2007

  • Yeah, just looked at my own lists for the first time in ages. I think what was throwing me off is that you changed the name of your Bird Wirds list or something.

    November 12, 2007

  • Well, reesetee is the one with the Bird Wird lists, actually. But thanks for looking, anyway!

    November 12, 2007

  • Latin, through Gr. άντονομασία, from άντονομάξειν, antonomazein, to name instead.

    As well as perhaps naturalised trademarks, refers to the use of a title in place of a proper name (Her Royal Highness; Your Grace; the Honourable Member… in addresses, as well as the Bard for Shakespeare and the King for Elvis), and the use of a proper name to symbolise some recogised quality (“He's no Einstein”, &c.)

    Ol' Blue Eyes for Sinatra may be considered an example both of antonomasia and synecdoche (a class of metonymy).

    December 18, 2007

  • Our Boris is no Schrödinger's Cat. And we intend to keep it that way.

    December 18, 2007

  • Sarra, thank's for pointing me to this word! You're a real Sacajawea!

    December 31, 2007

  • JM is now known as Mister Antonomasia.

    December 28, 2010

  • Cf. nosism.

    December 14, 2012

  • Australians display an odd trait

    Addressing the lowly or great:

    Call it aphasia

    Or antonomasia

    But blokes of all kinds are called “mate.”

    October 19, 2017