How To Use "Misnomer"

I want to recommend three words to you, before defining one word that I want you to be sure to use properly. I only ask this of you because I know you think about what my pet peeves are, and how you can avoid them.

A great word to use when you mean "misunderstand", with a shading of "failure to grasp", is misapprehension.

A great word to use when you want to speak of an idea floating out there that is generally misunderstood is misconception.

A great word to use when you mean "lie" is the word lie. If you don't want to use the word lie, use "falsehood". Or, if you want to sound like a soulless agent of the state, you can say "misinformation".

Finally, it is necessary to inform you that the word misnomer does not mean misapprehension or misconception or misinformation . It means misnaming. Mis. Nomer. Done. It's a word used to say that something has been mislabeled. That's it.

This article addresses a quote in which the word "misnomer" is used, and treats the word as if it had been used correctly, even though the person who used it meant something like "misinformation".
CROWLEY: If they entered the country illegally, doesn't that make them a [sic] criminal?

CHURCH: No, that's a misnomer of Fox News, it's a civil violation.

Undisciplined definitions and the loose use of words lead to a messy mind. Let us therefore come together is a display of linguistic unity. The ship of language is large, and difficult to turn. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. And I'll tell you what we list. We list to correct a huge misconception. And we shall, my friends, we shall.


  1. Next up, I'd be interested in a post about the word "disabuse". I find that word always works well in meetings to get your point across (when it's properly used, of course). I think it works so well because it's often unfamiliar to most of the people in the meeting, but it has very familiar parts to it (particularly the "abuse" part) that makes people's ears perk up and pay attention. For example, you recently disabused your readers of the notion that gas station cigars were anything more than large cigarettes. Personally, I love the mental image of someone getting "slapped straight" about something that they were wrong about previously.


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