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From Latin cognōmen, from con- (with) +‎ nōmen (name; family name).


  • (US) IPA(key): /kɒɡˈnoʊ.mən/
  • Hyphenation: cog‧no‧men


cognomen (plural cognomens or cognomina)

  1. (historical) A personal epithet or clan name added to the given name and family name of Ancient Romans.
    Julius Caesar's actual name was Gaius Iulius Caesar. Gaius was his praenomen or forename, Iulius his nomen or surname, and Caesar his cognomen, denoting which part of the Iulius family he belonged to.
    • 2007, David Potter, chapter 1, in The Emperors of Rome, page 36:
      Roman tradition suggests that he might also have had the cognomen Octavian to indicate his biological family.
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      "Five hundred years or more afterwards, the family migrated to Rome under circumstances of which no trace remains, and here, probably with the idea of preserving the idea of vengeance which we find set out in the name of Tisisthenes, they appear to have pretty regularly assumed the cognomen of Vindex, or Avenger."
  2. (literary or humorous) Synonym of nickname, any epithet used similar to the Roman cognomina.
    • 1820, Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, published 1864:
      In this by-place of nature, there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane; who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow []. The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVIII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 237:
      Her husband was evidently a sensible man, and he might have given his wife a little more sense than she could have derived from her downright father and her silly mother-in-law, who were really as great a pair of noodles as ever were exhibited in the pages of a modern novel, under the cognomen of "amiable rustics."
  3. (literary or humorous, uncommon) Synonym of surname, a family name.
    • 2018 December 23, Dragons' Den, spoken by Evan Davis:
      What's in a name? Well, to the Dragons, it would seem rather a lot, as they've tonight committed their cash to personalised products and to the man with the most famous cognomen in confectionery. I'll leave you to look that one up.

Usage notes[edit]

As officially used, Roman cognomina were typically not descriptive of any given person but were carried down from a famous ancestor so described, particularly those who held a high office like consul under the Republic, and indicate that ancestor's branch of the larger family. Personal epithets are sometimes further distinguished as agnomina, in which case cognomen is only used to describe such clan names.


  • (Roman clan name or epithet): surname (increasingly uncommon)

Coordinate terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]



From con- (together, with) +‎ nōmen (name). The g is from false association, or analogy, with cognōscō (recognize)



cognōmen n (genitive cognōminis); third declension

  1. surname
  2. third part of a formal name
  3. an additional name derived from some characteristic; a nickname
    • 29 BCE – 19 BCE, Virgil, Aeneid 1.530:
      “Est locus, Hesperiam Grāī cognōmine dīcunt, [...].”
      “There is a place, the Greeks call [it] by the name Hesperia [i.e., Italy], [...].”


Third-declension noun (neuter, imparisyllabic non-i-stem).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative cognōmen cognōmina
Genitive cognōminis cognōminum
Dative cognōminī cognōminibus
Accusative cognōmen cognōmina
Ablative cognōmine cognōminibus
Vocative cognōmen cognōmina

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  • cognomen”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • cognomen”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • cognomen in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • cognomen in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • cognomen”, in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • cognomen”, in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin



Borrowed from Latin cognomen.


cognomen n (plural cognomene)

  1. cognomen