28 February 2022

Three new words in one paragraph

"In some ways, Stewart was the last person one might expect to find immersed in acts of gonzo fieldwork. He was a tweedy, lifelong academic, known to many today as the author of Names on the Land, a charming, if sometimes inaccurate, encyclopedia of American toponyms. Yet the research for his work—which spanned evolutionary science, science fiction, thrillers, Civil War history, educational history, literary theory, onomastics (the study of names), and hodology (the study of roads)—tended to involve a degree of reckless abandon."
Found in a book review in Harper's Magazine.

Toponym.  A place name (back-formation from toponymy).  And from that microtoponomy (nomenclature of small places like fields or sections of forests).  Derived from the Greek components.

Onomastics.  The branch of lexicology devoted to the study of names and naming, especially the origins of names.  From the French onomastique.

Hodology.  The study of pathways or interconnected ideas, including the study of connections between brain cells.  From the Greek hodós, “path, road, way; journey.”  Related word: odometer (you learn something every day).

Addendum:  see the Comments re endonyms vs. exonyms.


  1. Tangentially related is the useful distinction between endonyms and exonyms. An endonym is what local people call a place or country, an exonym is what people from other places call it. So a name usually has one endonym, but can have many exonyms. See e.g. Wien (the endonym) versus Vienna (the English/Italian exonym), Wenen (the Dutch exonym), etc. The same goes for the names of languages, such as the endonym Deutsch versus the exonyms German (English), Duits (Dutch), Allemand (French), Niemiecki (Polish), etc.

  2. Kind of like the endonym pronunciation for Floridians is Kissimmee, whereas thhe exonym pronunciation for, example, someone from Boston would say Kissimmee.

    1. Paul, I think the formatting is disguising what you are trying to express. I'm forwarding that sentence to my cousin who used to work in Kissimmee for his thoughts...

    2. What your cousin will say is that the endo's will place the accent on the second syllable, and the exo's will place the accent on the first. You're right about the disguise!

    3. That makes sense. It would be like the endonym for Versailles, Kentucky is ver-SALES, not ver-SIGH. And AY-thens, KY, not ATH-ens. And I think New BERlin KY, not New berLIN. There must be thousands of other examples. Tx, Paul.

  3. Add Lewes,DE pronounced locally as Louis and by exos as Loous. My favorite is Mousehole in Cornwall,UK, pronounced Mao-sul

  4. an excellent and informative addendum!



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