The word "non-hyphenated" is a paradoxical word in that it is a word about words, but it does not describe itself.

I have two questions:

  • Is there a name for these types of paradoxical words?
  • What are some other examples of them?


3 Answers 3


As Lawrence notes, such a word is heterological.

Heterological adjective

A word that does not apply to itself


By contrast a word which does describe itself is autological or homological.

The word heterological is not merely "paradoxical" in that it describes words which don't describe themselves, it also leads to a paradox all of its own. Consider the question: is the word "heterological" itself heterological or autological?

Given the definition of "heterological", it follows that if "heterological" is heterological then it's autological, and if it's autological then it's heterological.

This is known as the Grelling-Nelson Paradox, and has similarities to the famous paradox of Bertrand Russell based the "set of all sets which don't contain themselves" and asks "Does such a set contain itself?"

  • Interesting! Grelling-Nelson sounds like it is a specific case of the liar parardox. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 5:20
  • And this is the third time in five days I've run across mention of the Bertrand Russell Paradox, which had escaped my notice the previous fifty years or so. Bizarre.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 22:33
  • @Phil Interestingly, it is common for people to find out about something for the first time, and then encounter it multiple times within a short period right after... See this link, under "frequency illusion" or "Baader-Meinhof phenomenon" :) Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 5:12


That's a category if you ask me.


Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words. A humorous extension of the more commonly used sesquipedalian.

  • Downvoters, please indicate why you've cast a downvote, if possible. This answer is an excellent response to the question.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    @Dan answers should be explanatory, this is just a link-drop (without a link).
    – JJJ
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 10:37
  • @JJJ You are correct. Ideally, there should be a link and the definition stated, which would have been a much more helpful comment than the cursory one I left. I apologize.
    – Dan
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 11:40
  • @Dan feel free to propose an edit on that if you think it's a good answer. As long as it's in line with what was posted initially (doesn't conflict with the author's intent) and improves the post, it will be accepted.
    – JJJ
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 11:41

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