- A fancy term from one of those new Guardian How To Present Your Creative Writing Classes masterclass, a term that possibly nobody else in the room understands, during a course that is presented by somebody you’ve never heard of and the class costs a small fortune (NB includes VAT, booking fee and refreshments) for six hours in a one-star hotel in Nuneaton. Where’s Nuneaton? Got an idea for a Guardian Masterclass Class? Simply download their pitch document, fill it in and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org today!
- Antonomasia has nothing to do with someone called Anton or Antoin, does it? Or Thomasina either. OK, I’m guessing here.
- It’s a figure of speech then?
- A figure of fun? Pass.
- Antonomasia, antonomasia. Gimme a sec, I know this one. How about: the use of an epithet or title in place of a proper name, as in the Bard for Shakespeare; the Iron Duke for Wellington; the Iron Chancellor for Bismark; the Iron Lady (51% on Rotten Tomatoes) for Margaret Thatcher; the Fab Four for the Beatles; Your Majesty or Your Highness for a particular sovereign; the Iron Curtain for that iron curtainy thing during the Cold War (yes, antonomasia can refer to places as well as people) (and to wars too?)
- Or maybe it’s the very opposite – using a proper name for an epithet: he’s a right little Napoleon / little Hitler, he’s a Casanova, she’s a Jackie Onassis (see pic above), a doubting Thomas… Actually I’m all mixed up now.
- It’s the use of a proper name to designate a member of a class (a Solomon for a wise ruler), or to express a general idea or to designate others sharing a particular characteristic (such as a fithy rich moneybags as a Rockefeller, a Denis O’Brien). What’s the difference between this and 6.?
- (Rhetoric) In general, the interplay between the logical and nominal meanings of a word. Now you’re going to ask me what “rhetoric” means and there’s me never done a creative writing course.
- In fiction, the practice of giving a character a proper name that defines or suggests a leading quality of said character (such as Dr Sawbone, Squire Ownsall, Mr Fancypants, Mr Right, Mr Wright, Johnny Moneybags).
- A popular handle/avatar on fan fiction websites, possibly as a reference to the daugher of King Archipiela and Queen Maguncia. Princess Antonomasia was brought up under the care and tutelage of a Countess Trifaldi (see Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes), which sounds like a much better handle if you ask me.
- Davy Jones’s locker. This was the famous wardrobe where a member of the Monkees pop combo kept his stage clothes.
- A refund for a course or workshop, such as for a How To Present Creative Writing Classes class. Please note: an antonomasia does not affect your statutory consumer rights.
[Latin, from Greek antonomazein, to name instead : anti-, instead of; see anti- + onomazein, to name (from onoma, name; see nō̆-men- in Indo-European roots), and all that other etymological rubbish you always ignore at the end of dictionary definitions, because – let’s face it – you’re only reading this blog because you’ve an exam tomorrow morning, aren’t you? Tell you what: just tell the Grammar Nazi that it’s a bit like a simile]