• synonyms


[par-uh-noh-mey-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh]
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noun Rhetoric.
  1. the use of a word in different senses or the use of words similar in sound to achieve a specific effect, as humor or a dual meaning; punning.
  2. a pun.
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Origin of paronomasia

1570–80; < Latin < Greek paronomasía a play on words, assonance, derivative of paronomázein to make a slight name-change (par- par- + onomázein to name, derivative of ónoma name); see -ia
Related formspar·o·no·mas·tic [par-uh-noh-mas-tik] /ˌpær ə noʊˈmæs tɪk/, adjectivepar·o·no·mas·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for paronomasia

joke, quip, witticism, conceit, quibble, ambiguity, paronomasia, equivoque

Examples from the Web for paronomasia

Historical Examples of paronomasia

  • Reuss renders the paronomasia, "qu'il soit cach ou lch en Israel."

    The Expositor's Bible: The First Book of Kings

    F. W. Farrar

  • The only grounds for this theory are the easiness of the Greek style and the paronomasia in iv.

British Dictionary definitions for paronomasia


  1. rhetoric a play on words, esp a pun
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Derived Formsparonomastic (ˌpærənəʊˈmæstɪk), adjectiveparonomastically, adverb

Word Origin for paronomasia

C16: via Latin from Greek: a play on words, from paronomazein to make a change in naming, from para- 1 (beside) + onomazein to name, from onoma a 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

Word Origin and History for paronomasia


"pun," 1570s, from Latin, from Greek paronomasia "play upon words which sound similarly," from paronomazein "to alter slightly, to call with slight change of name," literally "to name beside," from par- (see para- (1)) + onomasia "naming," from onoma "name" (see name (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper