Word of the Day Archive
Friday April 20, 2012
1. A nickname.
2. An additional, fourth name given to a person by the ancient Romans in allusion to some achievement or other circumstance, as “Africanus” in “Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus.”
He was thin in person and low in stature, with light sandy-colored hair, and small pale features, from which he derived his agnomen of Bean or white.
-- Sir Walter Scott, Waverley
Successful Roman generals were frequently given an agnomen celebrating the source of their victories.
-- Waldo E. Sweet, Lectiones Primae
Agnomen comes from the Latin tradition of adding a fourth nickname to someone's given name. Ag- is a variation of the prefix ad- meaning "to" or "near." Nomen means "name."