This Proto-Indo-European entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



Within the disputed Indo-Uralic theory, it has been connected with the Uralic root *nime, whence Finnish nimi, Estonian nimi and Hungarian név.

Kloekhorst 2008:518 argues for a *-mn̥ derivative of the root *h₃neh₃- ‎(to name), reflected in Hittite [script needed] ‎(ḫannai-, to sue, judge) (originally "to call to court") and Ancient Greek ὄνομαι ‎(ónomai, to blame, scold, insult) (with a semantic shift comparable to English to call names).


*h₁nómn̥ or *h₃nómn̥ or *h₁néh₃mn̥ or *h₃néh₃mn̥ n

  1. name
    *h₁nómn̥ *dʰeh₁-‎ ― to give a name



Sources disagree on the reconstruction of this word. Some reconstruct it with initial *h₃- because of Greek ὄνομα ‎(ónoma), ὄνυμα ‎(ónuma), but the lack of an initial laryngeal in Hittite 𒆷𒀀𒈠𒀭 ‎(lāman) suggests *h₁, and Armenian անուն ‎(anun) could be from either one. The Greek o- would then be due to assimilation to the following o-, just as in ὀδούς ‎(odoús, tooth), from *odonts, assimilated from *edonts, from *h₁dont-. Medial *-eh₃- is sometimes reconstructed on the basis of length in some Dutch and Low German denominal verbs (in Indo-Iranian it arose by Brugmann's law, and in Latin by analogy cōg-nōmen ‎(surname) : co-gnōscō ‎(to know), from PIE *ǵneh₃-), but these are more likely to be late forms using the Germanic a/ō ablaut found also in class VI strong verbs.

Cowgill and Beekes (1969) have argued that initial e-/o- of Greek and inital a- of Armenian are simply prothetic vowels, i.e. not of laryngeal origin, which would then render the reconstruction as *nómn̥.

The original paradigm is also somewhat difficult to reconstruct precisely; it might be proterokinetic ablauting *h₁nómn̥ ~ *h₁n̥méns, or just acrostatic with or without zero grade in weak cases. The Tocharian forms seem to come from *(h₁)nem-, which could be from the oblique form in an acrostatic paradigm.



  • Stüber, Karin (1998). The Historical Morphology of n-Stems in Celtic. Maynooth Studies in Celtic Linguistics III. Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, National University of Ireland, pp. 53–59. ISBN 0-901519-54-5.
  • Alwin Kloekhorst (2008), Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon, Leiden, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, page 282ff
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