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Morphemes with the affix -onym (from the Greek for name) are designations for either a closed set of grammatical morphemes that refer to relationships between word pairs, such as synonym and antonym; or they may stand for classical compound nouns of an open type that refer to a particular subject, such as toponym, charactonym, etc. By analogy they may be freely created, sometimes for no other reason than to give an erudite impression of the user who expects his listeners to understand Greek, and it is in this way that words such as ornithonym or ichthyonym may be formed.

The usage of the word pairs is of great importance in grammar. Some morphemes ending in -onym may represent words that contain components, in the way house may contain window, roof, and door, or they may be words so contained in others, such as steering-wheel and engine in car. They may be generic words that stand for a class or group of equally-ranked items, such as tree for beech or elm, or belong within that class, such as lily or violet in flower. They may have the same or a similar meaning as a differently spelled word, such as sofa or couch, or they may stand in direct contrast to another, such as useful and useless.

Some morphemes have the -nym form rather than the -onym form, such as ananym or hypernym, but that may be more for ease of pronunciation than for etymological reasons.

Most -onyms may have suffixes added to them and in this way form derivatives with the endings -onymy, -onymous, -onymic, etc., in new constructions. Others may reverse this process by removing suffixes in back-formations, especially if the new morphemes thus formed sound plausible enough to have been the root form in first place.

A list of -onym words