At some point in your elementary school career, you probably learned about onomatopoeia, AKA words that are formed from the actual sound that they make, such as buzz, sizzle, or cuckoo.
Less known, but in a similar vein, are autological (or homological) words. Autological words express a characteristic that they also possess. For example, short refers to a deficiency in length or height, but this meaning also applies to the word short itself – as in, the word "short" is short in length.
In another example, English is, in fact, an English word, and thus autological.
Funnily enough, some words can gain or lose their autological status. Case in point: Neologism refers to a phrase or word that is just being introduced to common usage. For awhile, neologism itself wasn’t very well known, but now, scholars, journalists, and writers regularly use it – meaning neologism was downgraded from its autological status.
Looking for some more surprising autological words hiding right under your nose? Keep reading!
That's right, autological words have a tendency to be cheeky. A word is, you know, a word. This is probably the most basic, clear definition of an autological word. Noun falls in a very similar category, although notably, adjectives and verbs are actually nouns. Mind. Blown.
Jargon, lingo and slang have all fallen in and out of fashion, but buzzword is itself a buzzword to describe the coolest linguistic trends out there.
There are indeed no hyphens in this word. Autological for the win!
Remember how we talked about how short is indeed short? Meet its mirror cousin. Sesquipedalian means long word and would easily trip up more than one champion spelling bee competitor. In fact, it comes from the Latin word sesquipedalis meaning a foot and a half long. Now that’s one l-o-n-g word.
This word is derived from the ancient Greek ellhnikos and means, wait for it … of Greek origin.
Did you ever notice the repeating vowels in this word? Once you see it, you can’t un-see those double e’s and i’s. Sorry!
You read it, therefore it is. Existing exists as a word and thus exists as an autological term to boot.
Referring to any word that has more than one syllable, polysyllabic has a whopping five syllables, ultimately becoming a prime example of polysyllabism.
Don’t tell inanimate this but … it’s not alive. It’s 100% inanimate. As a consolation prize, it’s also an autological word.
Are all the letters there? Check. Do we understand its meaning as it’s written? Check. Yeah, sounds like this one’s complete. Oh, and so is this list!