A misnomer is a wrong or unsuitable name. It’s a misnomer to call your grandmother “Grandfather,” the same way it’s a misnomer to call a chair with four legs that doesn’t move unless you drag it across the floor, a rocking chair.

From the Middle-French misnomer “to misname” evolved our English misnomer, a noun indicating a lack of fit when it comes to naming. Synonyms include, predictably, misnamed, but also mistermed and miscalled. You’ll notice the repetition of the mis- at the front of all those words. It comes from the French mes-, which means “wrongly.”

Definitions of misnomer

n an incorrect or unsuitable name

Type of:
a language unit by which a person or thing is known

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.