At first, I thought "misnomer" was an English word adapted from Latin (still learning, as you can see). Yet, it seems it does not exist in Latin. According to Wikipedia:

From Anglo-Norman mesnomer, noun use of Anglo-Norman and Old French verb mesnomer (“to name incorrectly”), from mes- (“mis-”) + nomer (“to name”) (from Latin nōmināre).

So, given this assertion, would not the Latin equivalent be "mesnomer"? However, Wiktionary does not yield an entry for such word. Neither does S&L dictionary. Why is such not a word? Am I incorrectly understanding the above quoted text?

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    If you read carefully, the only mention of Latin is for the verb nominare, which is not in mesnomer. Apparently nomer is Old French for Latin nominare.
    – Rafael
    Apr 28, 2017 at 18:47
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    The prefix mes_/_mis is, as I understand, from Latin minus (in the sense 'not fully, perfectly, or adequately'); so etymologically, the Latin equivalent – at least for the French verb that is the source of the English noun misnomer – would be the phrase minus nominare.
    – cnread
    Apr 28, 2017 at 20:17
  • @Rafael Very true.
    – luchonacho
    Apr 28, 2017 at 20:18
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    @SamK: In Sallust's Bellum Catilinae, Cato says 'iam pridem equidem nos vera vocabula rerum amisimus'; so perhaps something like falsum vocabulum would work. Or, Cicero speaks in multiple places of certa et/ac propria vocabula (e.g., Pro Caecina 51: 'an hoc dubium est quin neque verborum tanta copia sit...res ut omnes suis certis ac propriis vocabulis nominentur...'); so perhaps incertum atque alienum [= non proprium] vocabulum is another possibility. I myself like the simple phrase vocabulum alienum ('a term that [really, properly] belongs to something else').
    – cnread
    Apr 29, 2017 at 23:56
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    @cnread I think your comments are for a good answer here.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 4, 2018 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


No, mesnomer is not a Latin word. The quotations only say that it is a Old French word.

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