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What is a catchy word that means (non-)self-descriptive

There are plenty of names for word sets:

  • synonyms: words that have the same meaning
  • palindromes: words that read the same forward or backwards
  • homonyms: words that have the same spelling and different meaning
  • metanyms: words that symbolize other larger concepts

But a certain set of words that define word sets are also in that set. Unfortunately, I can only think of one right now: antonym, which is in fact an antonym to the word synonym.

Do words like this have a name?

marked as duplicate by Kit Z. Fox, simchona, RegDwigнt Jul 26 '12 at 8:44

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  • I might also need help retagging the question. I couldn't find anything really good. – John Berryman Jul 25 '12 at 13:14
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    Are you looking for "self-referential" words? – Hellion Jul 25 '12 at 13:16
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    I think this is an interesting question, but out of scope on this site since we generally discourage list-type and discussion questions. – Kit Z. Fox Jul 25 '12 at 13:19
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    Also adjectival… – Ben Dyer Jul 25 '12 at 14:26
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    "Antonym" isn't that good an example, as a word is only an antonym with respect to some other word, not taken by itself. – Jay Jul 25 '12 at 14:41

An autologous word is one that describes itself, such as curt, sesquipedalian, recherché, and septisyllabically.

And autologous. :)

  • No. See my answer. – Colin Fine Jul 25 '12 at 21:42

The OED lists autological with this meaning. Since the first citation (F.P.Ramsey, in 1926) was defining the word (for the purposes of a particular argument), this is a rare case in which one can reasonably say that autological is definitely the correct answer: that is the word which was coined specifically for that meaning.

Autologous is listed in the OED only with a medical meaning, and the first ten pages of results for googling "autologous" contain no non-medical examples.

  • Well, could I talk you into an autonym? – tchrist Jan 15 '14 at 5:45

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