I need to write the following but apparently "onymously" isn't a word?...

The user can post anonymously or onymously

How can anonymously be ok to use - but not onymously? Can anyone suggest a suitable alternative for my sentence?

  • I agree with James that it is a word. However, it is a word that one almost never encounters and that could be a reason to choose an alternative. I would suggest something in the lines of: "the user can post, anonymously or not" – Peter H. Jul 12 '18 at 9:13
  • Thanks @PeterH. I guess I like to sound clever in my proposals, so might stick with onymously! Hopefully it's obvious what it means in the context of that sentence. – benjaminhull Jul 12 '18 at 9:48
  • @benjaminhull I normally caution against being "too clever" but in this case, I think the meaning is perfectly clear in the context and so (hopefully) more people will think "nice word!" than "huh?" – user184130 Jul 12 '18 at 11:40

I'm not sure what you mean by "not a word". Onymously is a word formed by the usual rules of English morphology, and consistent with English phonology. The meaning can readily be determined from its formation. So that definitely makes it a word. (The meaning is not immediately obvious to me, because I have never come across onymous before, either. But I guess I would figure it out, especially in the context of your example sentence. Which is fine as it is, by the way.)

If by "not a word" you mean "not in the dictionary" then MW shows it as the adverbial form of onymous.

  • Yes, I guess that's what I meant: why is it not in the dictionary. I had assumed unless it's in the dictionary that it's not a word you can use. Thank you for enlightening me. – benjaminhull Jul 12 '18 at 9:47
  • 2
    Dictionaries record the language: they don't set it. Since language changes, all dictionaries are out of date somewhere in their contents. – Colin Fine Jul 12 '18 at 10:50
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    No dictionary lists all the words in the English language, not even "unabridged" ones. And when a word's meaning can be easily determined by applying, to a listed word, the rules for prefixes and suffixes, a dictionary is more likely to omit it. – Hot Licks Jul 12 '18 at 12:23
  • It's worth flagging up the full OED definition here: onymous - Having a name, named; (of a writing) bearing the name of the author; (of an author) that gives his or her name. After which they make the "usage note" Usually explicitly contrasted with anonymous. It's not a common usage, but given that context it would always be easy to understand. Personally I'd be more inclined to describe it as a "facetious back-formation" likely to be repeatedly and independently "re-coined" as circumstances require, rather than "a word" as such. – FumbleFingers Jul 12 '18 at 12:53
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    @FumbleFingers I don't quite get your point. We have anhydrous vs hydrous (not nyhdrous). And while an anion is negative (electrically) it is not the negated form of ion (the opposite of anion is cation); but if it were, we would have anion vs ion (not nion). So I don't see where you get "nonymous" from. The Greek root is onyma and that seems to have been preserved in the back-formation from anonymous to onymous. – user184130 Jul 12 '18 at 13:16

Onymously has an entry in the OED, though it is stated to be rare.

With a person's name given or stated; by name.

1800 W. Taylor in J. W. Robberds Mem. W. Taylor (1843) I. 346 The impropriety of using author's names in public journals, when speaking of writings not onomously claimed.

1889 V. Horsley in S. Paget Sir Victor Horsley (1919) 86 He anonymously or onymously is not worth powder and shot.

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