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

  • noun A taxonomic designation, such as Gorilla gorilla, in which the genus and species names are the same, commonly used in zoology but no longer in botany.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A name formed by repeating one word: as, kiwi-kiwi, the apteryx; taro-taro, the Orinoco bittern; awa-awa, the milk-fish of Hawaii; specifically, in zological and botanical nomenclature, a name in which the generic and specific names are the same: as, Scomber scomber, the mackerel; Cardinalis cardinalis, the cardinal redbird; Vulpes vulpes, the European red fox.

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

  • noun biology, informal A binomial name consisting of the same word twice, such as Bison bison.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

taut- + -onym


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  • A word formed by repeating a sequence of letters: hotshots.

    --Chris Cole, Wordplay

    May 23, 2008

  • I'm afraid Chris Cole is wrong. A tautonym is a name that is composed of identical parts. Since "hotshots" is composed of "hot" + "shots", it is not a tautonym. In biology, a tautonym is a taxonym where the genus name and the species name are the same, as with the corn crake, Crex crex. In everyday life, names like "Pop-Pop" (what I used to call my grandfather) and "John-John" (what JFK Jr. was called as a child) are tautonyms.

    May 25, 2008

  • I see, I see.

    May 26, 2008

  • Rattus rattus!

    May 26, 2008

  • There are two main kinds of tautonyms in zoology. In an "absolute tautonym", the genus and specific name are identical (e.g., Gorilla gorilla). In a "virtual tautonym", the names are similar in spelling, derivation, or meaning. The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature give several examples: Bos taurus, Equus caballus, Ovis aries, Scomber scombrus, Sphaerostoma globiporum, and Spinicapitichthys spiniceps.

    May 26, 2008

  • To rolig: I'm sure Chris Cole is aware of the pro forma definition of tautonym but has widened its parameters to include repeated letters for the purposes of his wordplay opus. Here is his reply via email to me:

    Actually the Webster's Third definition of "tautonym" applies only to taxonomic names, so we're free to generalize it as we choose when applying it to logology. My use of the word conforms to the National Puzzlers' League's usage and besides it's more fun to find words like "hotshots."

    June 1, 2008

  • For puzzling purposes, games and fun, people can do whatever they like.

    My real objection to Mr. Cole's use of "tautonym" is that it goes against my sense of what a word is, and what makes a word. Words are only superficially composed of letters. A word like "hotshots" might be just as well written "hotšots" (Slovene transliteration) or хотшот�? (Russian transliteration) – but not "ho�?oc" or "хочоц", which violate the word's structure – and the imagined tautonymy instantly evaporates. Words are, essentially, composed of morphemes and phonemes, and it is with respect to these that the established understanding of tautonymy (a name based on repetition) applies.

    But it was very nice of you, oroboros, to take the trouble to ask the source, and of Mr. Cole to reply.

    June 2, 2008

  • Since "hotshots" is also composed of "hots" + "hots", it is a tautonym.

    June 3, 2008

  • hotshots as a compound of hots + hots is nonsensical in common usage. I can't see or hear it as a tautonym on that basis. As rollie says, the quizfiends can please themselves but it seems very cheesy when they want to put on linguistic airs and graces.

    June 3, 2008

  • lighten up, bilby;

    June 3, 2008