Definition of cognomen in US English:



  • 1An extra personal name given to an ancient Roman citizen, functioning rather like a nickname and typically passed down from father to son.

    Compare with nomen, praenomen, agnomen
    • ‘Documents dating between 1521 and 1524 attest that he had assumed the cognomen Lieto, the Italian version of Laetus, substituting this for his actual patronymic, Allegri.’
    • ‘Robert Fitzgerald correctly refers to Athena's cognomen in the first book of the Odyssey as ‘Mentes.’’
    • ‘‘The name ‘Caesar’ is a cognomen, a nickname given to one member of a Roman clan and borne by his descendants as a kind of surname.’
    • ‘A grateful Senate voted him the cognomen Augustus, by which name he is generally known in the history books.’
    • ‘Scipio received the cognomen Africanus and returned to Rome to celebrate a triumph.’
    1. 1.1 A name or nickname.
      • ‘With the cant of abolitionism well amplified, Missourians took up the cognomen of Southerners more widely, yet still largely as a defense of the peculiar institution.’
      • ‘The first revolver bearing the cognomen LadySmith was the Model M Hand Ejector of 1902.’
      • ‘Galaxy's tough, brawling style earned him the cognomen, ‘The Thai Tyson’ and his record certainly shows a man who dominated his division.’
      • ‘One of the new owners bears the cognomen of Mark and, as many people know, the Thai phrase that sounds a lot like ‘mark, mark’ means ‘much’ or ‘a lot of’.’
      • ‘It didn't last long under that cognomen and now goes by the less enticing Pan Nice Lady Bar.’
      designation, denomination, label, description, characterization, identification, identity
      View synonyms


Latin, from co- ‘together with’ + gnomen, nomen ‘name’.