Words such as acronym, pseudonym, and toponym that  end in –nym  refer to the name (Aeolian Greek ónyma = Attic ónoma ‘name’) by which something or someone is known: a toponym is the name of a place (tópos ‘place, spot’), a pseudonym is a fake name (pseûdos ‘false(hood)’), and an acronym is something known by its initial letters or syllables (ákros ‘outermost, top’). In 1963, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense, A. F. Brown published Normal and Reverse English Word List, a culling of the headwords from a handful of bulky technical and “general use” dictionaries. (See http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0688491 for the list of dictionaries.) The culled words appear first in alphabetical order and then in reverse alphabetical order—words ending in –a first, then those ending in -b, and so on, from a (the indefinite article) to bruzz (a kind of woodworker’s chisel).

While the Department of Defense’s interest in funding the work was presumably for its use as a tool in cryptographic analysis, others among us treasure especially the reverse word list for wealth of sociolinguistic information that can be teased out of it, the names for which we have names being just one. (The list of words ending in -phobia and the words ending in –man, -woman, -boy, and –girl are perhaps particularly telling.)

 Brown’s original list of –nyms is as follows:

 ANANYM
METANYM
BASINYM
ONYM
DIONYM
TRIONYM
POECILONYM
ALLONYM
HOMONYM
ANONYM
ORGANONYM
SYNONYM
EPONYM
TOPONYM
HYPONYM
TYPONYM
PARONYM
ACRONYM
SIDERONYM
HETERONYM
CHIRONYM
PATRONYM
NEURONYM
ISONYM
METONYM
ANTONYM
PROTONYM
CRYPTONYM
AUTONYM
TAUTONYM
EUONYM
POLYONYM

For a more recent (and annotated) list, see http://www.wordnik.com/lists/list-of-onyms.

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