Onomastics: the study of proper names

Although the origin of the words may be a somewhat broader term, we have the onomastics to be able to make it smaller. In this case, it refers to proper names. Names that are and will be our protagonists, both in our lives and in the work that we show from this website.

But even if we know what the real meaning of name day, he couldn't be left behind in showing us more. That 'more' will be an origin as well as a provenance of all the proper names that we use. Not only to designate people, but also for places. Because everything has a beginning! Do you want to know it?

What is Onomastics?

Onomastics Study of proper names

When we refer to this word, surely everyone knows the meaning. We could say of her that she is a branch or part of the lexicography. That is, all that collection or group of words that a language has. But in the case of onomastics, these words refer to proper names such as surnames, as well as those that designate places, plants or events, etc. We cannot forget that the word onomastic comes from the Greek and can be translated as 'the art of assigning names or naming'.

Classification or branches of Onomastics


One of the most important branches is anthroponymy, it is also called anthropological onomastics. In it, what are studied are proper names and names of people. In them, surnames are also included. Of course, in some cultures, already very distant, they only used a proper or first name, which was the one that identified them.

It is said that most of the anthroponyms come from other common names. So sometimes it is more difficult to know the meaning. To find out, we have to take a look at the etymology. Since she will be the one who brings us the history of that name. We have anthroponymics from Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Germanic or Arab.

As a curiosity, many years ago, the name that was given to a son were the first words that the father said when he saw him. While the Romans if they did not have a name chosen, they resorted to numbers.

Place names

Another of the disciplines, within the name day, which studies the proper names of places. Although not only these names speak of toponymy, but it is also common to find it in anatomy or biology. It is not until the late nineteenth century that this is actually collected. term in the RAE.

It should be noted that place names can also come from people's names. But they are also names that stand out in terms of qualities or material to which they refer. So it is not surprising that a name of a place contributes qualities of the environment as if it were a mystical connection, but it is the origin of that name. Within the toponymy we have the hydronyms (rivers), thalasonyms (seas and oceans), oronyms (names of mountains) or theonyms (names of Gods).


In this case, just say that it focuses on the study of the names of living beings. Among which we highlight the animals and plants. On the one hand we have zoonymy which is the part that refers to animals while when we talk about phytonymy, then the plants will be the protagonists.


Of course, if we talk about the classification of names, we could not ignore the one that deals with the streets, squares or highways either. Since all of them, rather their names, will be part of the so-called odonym. This term also comes from ancient Greek and can be translated as 'path name'.

The history of Onomastics in our country

It has to be said that in Spain there were several languages such as Celtiberian or Tartessian, among others. This was an indicator that cultures and diversity was present in our country. So it has left us sounds, letters and roots of very varied words. For example, Spanish and Iberian share the five vowels that differentiate them from the rest of the Romance languages. Like other suffixes that do not come from Latin like -arro or -ueco.

When the Romans arrived, they brought Latin with them and as such, they wanted only this to have the great prominence. Throwing away the vast majority of the other languages ​​that were spoken. With the passage of time and generations, only Latin was established. Although it is said that Basque also resisted this time. Hence, a large part of the names or place names come from Latin called vulgar. Since all dialects were included in it. A review of history to know the origin of many names.