The Meaning of Anonymous: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of anonymous? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word anonymous, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word anonymous mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and other sources like American Heritage, the word anonymous is an adjective that can describe something that is of unknown origin or authorship, something that is not identified or names, or something that lacks distinction, individuality, or recognizability. The pronunciation of anonymous is ən-onym-mous. Something that is anonymous lacks individual characteristics or unique character, or has an unacknowledged name, lack of distinctive character, known name or recognition factor.

Many different languages also contain words that mean anonymous. You may notice that many of these words have a spelling and pronunciation that is similar to the word anonymous. These are called cognates, which are often formed when words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of anonymous is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Swedish: anonym‎, okänd‎
  •  German: namenlos‎
  •  Esperanto: anonima‎
  •  Mandarin: 無名‎, 无名‎ (wúmíng), 匿名‎ (nìmíng)
  •  Bulgarian: безименен‎
  •  Welsh: dienw‎, anhysbys‎
  •  Spanish: anónimo‎
  •  Greek: ανώνυμος‎
  •  Polish: bezimienny‎ (masc.)
  •  French: anonyme‎
  •  Danish: anonym‎, ukendt‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: gun urrainn‎
  •  Russian: анони́мный‎
  •  Breton: dizanv‎
  •  Korean: 익명의‎
  •  Faroese: ónevndur‎
  •  Catalan: anònim‎
  •  Portuguese: anónimo‎ (Portugal), anônimo‎ (Brazil)
  •  Czech: bezejmenný‎ (masc.)
  •  Dutch: naamloos‎, onbenoemd‎
  •  Lithuanian: bevardis‎
  •  Romanian: anonim‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: anoniman‎
  •  Hindi: अनाम‎ (anām)
  •  Japanese: 無名‎ (むめいの, mumei no), 匿名‎

What is the origin of the word anonymous?

According to Etymonline, the word anonymous (adj.) has been used as an adjective since the year 1600 to mean without a name, and since the 167s to describe something of unknown authorship. This comes from the Late Latin anonymus/Late Latin anōnymus, from the Greek anonymos or Greek anōnumos meaning without a name, from the Ancient Greek ἀνώνυμος. This comes from the root an meaning without and the root onyma/onuma, the Æolic dialectal form of onoma or Aeolic dialectal form of ὄνομα/ὄνυμα meaning name, from the earlier nōnumnos. This comes from Proto-Indo-European roots, namely nomen or no-men meaning name. One can add the suffix ly to create the related words anonymously (adv.) and eliminate the suffix ous to create anonym (n.).

What are synonyms and antonyms of anonymous?

Words that have the same definition as other words are called synonyms. These words can be used in place of the given term, and are useful for expanding your vocabulary and to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for anonymous is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  unidentified
  •  whatchamacallit
  •  such and such
  •  pseudo
  •  innominate
  •  you know who
  •  secret
  •  bearding
  •  unacknowledged
  •  unspecified
  •  pseudonymous
  •  unattested
  •  Jane/John Doe
  •  unnamed
  •  unsigned
  •  X
  •  uncredited
  •  undesignated
  •  nameless
  •  whatsis
  •  so and so
  •  incognito
  •  unclaimed
  •  undisclosed
  •  unavowed
  •  unknown
  •  what’s his/her name

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning as the word anonymous. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  celebrated
  •  obvious
  •  familiar
  •  manifest
  •  notorious
  •  plain
  •  well-known
  •  named
  •  certified
  •  popular
  •  accepted
  •  confessed
  •  avowed
  •  established
  •  recognized
  •  known
  •  noted
  •  hackneyed
  •  proverbial
  •  received
  •  patent
  •  acknowledged
  •  famous
  •  published
  •  down pat
  •  conscious
  •  common
  •  admitted

How can anonymous be used in a sentence?

Anonymous can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Below are several examples of anonymous.

The internet service providers were hacked into, and anonymous users stole other users’ personal data. The pseudonymous group of internet culture cops tried to stop them, but the hackers stole these digital assets and sold them in exchange for cryptocurrencies in cyberspace.

The Dublin journalist received an anonymous tip that pointed her toward the way of a good story. This anonymous character told her to remain an anonymous reporter, and head down to the faceless obsidian columns in front of city hall. There, she would hold a pad of pink notepaper and be approached not just by an anonymous source – but by her best friend.

The charity received an anonymous gift. This anonymous donation would give them complete control over their programming for the next five years – they only wished they knew the contributor and anonymous benefactor so they could thank them for their civil service.

The man took a look at the Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet. He knew he would remain an anonymous patient in an anonymous organisation with its own therapeutic dialogue, but it still felt like he was putting his struggles into a public forum, and it made him nervous.

The anonymous customer kept calling the customer service line to read creepy messages to Tara. Tara’s parents urged her to stop working there immediately and to report the anonymous poem and anonymous phone call to the police. She was worried she would be laughed out of the lobby of the anonymous grey building that housed the police station.

The young child was frightened of the endless row of anonymous faces in surgical masks and white jumpsuits. He knew they were doctors coming to help his appendix, but he was still scared of the anonymous figure.

When Chris’ unauthorized biography was published under unavowed authorship, he was livid. There was no name of the author listed, and the publishers at Random House were tight-lipped. The insensitivity of this anonymous writer was appalling to his PR team.

In the initiation ceremony to the fraternity at Princeton University, the older students remained anonymous and wore hoods and robes as the young freshmen pledged their loyalty.

Overall, the word anonymous means without a name or of unknown origin or authorship. This word is of Greek origin.

Sources:

  1. anonymous | Origin and meaning of anonymous | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. anonymous: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. ANONYMOUS Synonyms: 29 Synonyms & Antonyms for ANONYMOUS | Thesaurus 
  4. KNOWN Synonyms: 33 Synonyms & Antonyms for KNOWN | Thesaurus 
  5. Anonymous | Definition of Anonymous | Merriam-Webster