What is a “nym”?

What is a “nym?” This is probably the single most common question I hear. It makes sense, as “NymRights” advocates for enabling free speech for nyms, but doesn’t define them. The answer is still up for some debate.

In the general vernacular, “nym” is the shortened form of “pseudo-nym.” When I explain that to most people, there’s a general understanding, and a relation with internet names, handles, and so on. However, I like to extend it out a bit more, by demonstrating that pretty much *any* name can be a “nym”. Here are some examples I’ve used in my public talks:

  • autonym: a name or symbol that is bestowed upon oneself. Compare to the word “autonomy.”
  • polynym: multiple words or symbols. For example, “David Brown.”
  • mononym: a single word or symbol. For example, “David.”
  • anonym: a name or symbol representing anonymity. For example, when a user makes a comment on Slashdot without logging in, they are given the name “Anonymous Coward”.

These are just a few elaborations. As it turns out, pretty much anyone with a name is affected by nyms, we just need to do more outreach and education!

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2 thoughts on “What is a “nym”?

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