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This Proto-Indo-European entry contains reconstructed terms and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



Kloekhorst 2008:518 argues for a *-mn̥ derivative of the root *h₃neh₃- (to name), reflected in Hittite 𒄩𒀭𒈾𒄿 (ḫannai-, to sue, judge) (originally “to call to court”) and Ancient Greek ὄνομαι (ónomai, to blame, scold, insult) (with a semantic shift comparable to English to call names); see also *h₃en(h₂)-.

Within the disputed Indo-Uralic theory, it has been connected with the Uralic root *nime, whence Finnish nimi, Estonian nimi and Hungarian név.


Sources disagree on the reconstruction of this word. Some reconstruct it with initial *h₃- because of Greek ὄνομα (ónoma), ὄνυμα (ónuma) and (ἀ)νώνυμος ((a)nṓnumos) (*n̥h₃C>νωC), but the lack of an initial laryngeal in Hittite 𒆷𒀀𒈠𒀭 (lāman) might suggest *h₁ (although the fate of word-initial *h₃ in Anatolian is unclear and controversial), and Armenian անուն (anun) could be from either one. The Greek o- could be due to assimilation to the following o-, just as in ὀδούς (odoús, tooth), from *odonts, assimilated from *edonts, from *h₁dont-, although this is now reconstructed with *h₃ by some authorities. Medial *-eh₃- is sometimes reconstructed on the basis of length in some Dutch and Low German denominal verbs, but these are more likely to be late forms using the Germanic a/ō ablaut found also in class VI strong verbs (and in Indo-Iranian it could have arisen by Brugmann's law, and in Latin by the analogy co-gnōscō (to know) : cōg-nōmen (surname) = nōscō (to know) : nōmen, with the other forms from PIE *ǵneh₃-).

The original paradigm is also somewhat difficult to reconstruct precisely; it might be proterokinetic ablauting *h₁nómn̥ ~ *h₁n̥méns, or just acrostatic with or without zero grade in weak cases. The Tocharian forms seem to come from *(h₁)nem-, which could be from the oblique form in an acrostatic paradigm. However, Ronald Kim reconstructs Proto-Tocharian *ñemə as *h₁nḗh₃mn̥.

Alternative reconstructions[edit]

  • *h₃néh₃mn̥ ~ *h₃nh₃méns[1][2]
  • *nómn̥ ~ *n̥méns[3]
  • *h₁nḗh₃mn̥ ~ *h₁néh₃mnos[4]
  • *h₁néh₃mn̥
  • *h₃nómn̥


*h₁nómn̥ n

  1. name
    *h₁nómn̥ *déh₃t
    he gave a name
    (literally, “[a] name gave [he]”)


Athematic, acrostatic
singular collective
nominative *h₁nómn̥ *h₁némō
genitive *h₁némn̥s *h₁nm̥nés
singular dual plural collective
nominative *h₁nómn̥ *h₁nómnih₁ *h₁némō
vocative *h₁nómn̥ *h₁nómnih₁ *h₁némō
accusative *h₁nómn̥ *h₁nómnih₁ *h₁némō
genitive *h₁némn̥s *? *h₁nm̥nés
ablative *h₁némn̥s *? *h₁nm̥nés
dative *h₁némney *? *h₁nm̥néy
locative *h₁némn̥, *h₁némni *? *h₁n̥mén, *h₁n̥méni
instrumental *h₁némn̥h₁ *? *h₁nm̥néh₁

Derived terms[edit]

  • *h₃nómn̥-ye-ti
    • Proto-Hellenic: *onoməňňō
  • *n̥-h₃nomn̥-o-


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Kloekhorst, Alwin (2008) Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 5), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 599
  2. ^ Beekes, Robert S. P. (2011) Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, 2nd edition, revised and corrected by Michiel de Vaan, Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, page 32
  3. ^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995) New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 97
  4. ^ Ringe, Donald (2006) From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic (A Linguistic History of English; 1)‎[1], Oxford: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 47