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anonymous

[ uh-non-uh-muhs ]
/ əˈnɒn ə məs /
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See synonyms for: anonymous / anonymousness on Thesaurus.com

adjective
without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, or the like: an anonymous letter to the editor; an anonymous donation.
of unknown name; whose name is withheld: an anonymous author.
lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction: an endless row of drab, anonymous houses.
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Origin of anonymous

First recorded in 1595–1605; from Latin anōnymus, from Greek anṓnymos, equivalent to an- an-1 + -ōnym(a) (variant of ónyma ) -onym (earlier (a)n- with vowel lengthening; cf. anopheles) + -os adjective suffix; see -ous

OTHER WORDS FROM anonymous

a·non·y·mous·ness, nouna·non·y·mous·ly, adverbnon·a·non·y·mous·ness, noun

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH anonymous

1. anomalous, anonymous , euonymus, unanimous2. anonymous , pseudonymous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does anonymous mean?

Anonymous means that a person’s name or identity has not been revealed or given or has been withheld, as in an anonymous donor or an anonymous tip or Survey respondents will remain anonymous

Example: My source insists on remaining anonymous—they fear they would be punished for providing information if they were to be identified. 

There are many reasons why a person might want to be anonymous. A vote might be done anonymously to protect voters or to encourage them to give an honest vote even if it might be unpopular. Reporters will attribute information to anonymous sources to protect them from political or other retribution. Some people prefer to be anonymous online.

The noun anonymity refers to the state of being anonymous

The word anonymous is prominently used in the name of the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which encourages anonymity among its members. 

Another well-known use of the word is in the name of the modern hacker collective that calls itself Anonymous. The group’s name refers to the fact that members’ identities are unknown both to the public and other members, who rarely use their real names.  

Less commonly, anonymous can be used in situations in which no name is acknowledged, such as with the authorship of a book, as in The popular book was written by an anonymous author

A more figurative sense of anonymous is used to describe something lacking any unique character, as in We live in some anonymous suburb.

Where does anonymous come from?

The first records of the word anonymous come from around 1595. It ultimately comes from Greek anṓnymos, which is equivalent of combining an-, meaning “without,” and -ōnym, meaning “name.” Anonymous basically means a name is missing or not being given. 

Anonymous should not be confused with the somewhat similar-sounding unanimous, which describes complete agreement. Careful: in some cases, a vote can be both anonymous (using secret ballots without names, for example) and unanimous (meaning everyone voted in the same way). (Of course, in such a case, it would then be obvious how everyone voted.)

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What are some words that often get used in discussing anonymous?

What are some words anonymous may be commonly confused with?

How is anonymous used in real life?

Anonymous is commonly used in the context of news reports with unnamed sources. It’s also used in the context of voting and online activity.

Try using anonymous!

True or False?

An anonymous author is an author whose name is unknown or has not been revealed.

How to use anonymous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for anonymous

anonymous
/ (əˈnɒnɪməs) /

adjective
from or by a person, author, etc, whose name is unknown or withheldan anonymous letter
having no known name
lacking individual characteristics; unexceptional
(often capital) denoting an organization which provides help to applicants who remain anonymousAlcoholics Anonymous

Derived forms of anonymous

anonymity (ˌænəˈnɪmɪtɪ), nounanonymously, adverbanonymousness, noun

Word Origin for anonymous

C17: via Late Latin from Greek anōnumos, from an- + onoma name
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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