Definition of onomastic in English:



  • Relating to the study of the history and origin of proper names.

    • ‘But Scalito is a different kind of onomastic blend: an epithet combining elements of two names to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other.’
    • ‘One of the reasons for this lack of interest may be due to the often static and fixed conception of names: many onomastic studies do not allow for name changes.’
    • ‘The onomastic problem of personal and place-names (are Manchester, Manila, and Manitoba, etc., to be counted as words simply because they appear in texts?).’
    • ‘The OED does not record ‘creature’ in the sense of ‘monster’ Hollywood's ‘creature from outer space’ but one might conjecture it to derive directly from Frankenstein's onomastic confusion.’
    • ‘Indeed, a king of ‘Brut[ish] connection is already discernible in Arthurian legend, onomastic though such an incidental linkage turns out to be.’’
    • ‘In this ambitious project, King presents a superstructure of seven guiding principles, three categories of onomastic desire (how and to whom a name desires to speak), and a large complement of ascriptive terms devised by King herself.’
    • ‘These preliminary interpretations of Three Lives and its place in Stein's developing avant-garde poetics in the first decades of the twentieth century are necessary to contextualize the onomastic significance of Melanctha's name.’
    • ‘The crisis that arises from our attempt to define clear boundaries, or what James Baldwin criticized as ‘our passion for categorization, life neatly fitted into pegs’, has at its core an onomastic crisis.’
    • ‘By contrast archaeological and onomastic evidence in Orkney, Shetland, the Hebrides, together with the Isle of Man, points to heavy Norwegian settlement from the early 9th cent.’
    • ‘On the whole, the evidence suggests that he was generally too preoccupied with his North American dreams and schemes to do solid onomastic work.’
    • ‘Even outside the confines of finite name-spaces, the sheer onomastic challenge of modern life sometimes gets to be a burden.’
    • ‘The onomastic instability of the novel Don Quixote undermines all certainty of a linear reading.’


Late 16th century (as a noun in the sense ‘alphabetical list of proper nouns’, later also ‘lexicographer’): from Greek onomastikos, from onoma ‘name’. The adjective dates from the early 18th century.