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Paronyms




 

Somewhat related to homonyms are paronyms, i.e. words which are alike in form, but different in meaning. Paronymy is universal, not specifically English.

For example, the words capital and capital seem to be very similar, but they are from different Latin roots.

The word 'capital' has various senses, meaning punishable by death, principal, a seat of government, and wealth used in an investment. This word derives from the Latin 'caput1, meaning 'head.' It made its way into English from Old French via the Normans.

The more limited term, 'capital', refers to the building where the U.S. Congress meets in Washington, DC. 'Capitol' is a direct import from Latin into American English. It derives from the Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome, where the temple to Jupiter once stood. The
architecture of Washington, DC was deliberately designed to evoke images of the Roman Republic, and in this case the word chosen for the hails of Congress does also.

We may distinguish three groups of paronyms.

(1) Words having the same root but different derivational prefixes.
e.g. precede - proceed, preposition - proposition, abnormal - subnormal

(2) Words having the same root but different derivational suffixes'.
e.g. popular -populous, carefree - careless, elementary - elemental, contemptible - contemptuous

(3)-Word which originated from different sources and the likeness may be accidental.

e.g. absolute - obsolete', adopt-adapt, grisly — grizzly, affect-effect

Paronyms may occur among phrases. These are word groups consisting of identical lexical units but differing in some morphological and syntactical forms and, consequently, in meaning.

e.g. call .somebody names (speak of somebody offensively) - call
somebody's name (utter Ibis person's name); lose one's heart (fell in love)
- lose heart (get scared)







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