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a word similar to another in sound; the partial coincidence in outward form occurs simply by chance and is not conditioned by semantic or word-formation processes. Examples are seen in the Russian vremia (“time”) and bremia (“burden”) and apellirovat’ (“to appeal”) and operirovat’ (“to operate”).

Some scholars regard as paronyms words with the same root that are similar in structure or sound and are the same part of speech or have common grammatical features. Because of the partial coincidence in sound, there may be an outward change in one of the words, usually the one less used; this is known in linguistics as false etymology. Sometimes a chance coincidence in sound leads to changes that become fixed in language. For example, svidetel’ (“witness”) was connected in Old Russian not with the root vid- (meaning “to see”) but with věd-, a root appearing in vedat’ (“to know”) and svedushchii (“knowledgeable”).

Paronyms may be misused by a speaker, as when stupen’ nogi is used instead of stupnia nogi to refer to the sole of the foot, the confusion arising from the similarity in sound between the Russian words for “stairstep” (or “level”) and “sole.” Paronyms are used in poetry (including rhymes) and also in puns.


Gvozdev, A. N. Ocherki po stilistike russkogo iazyka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Bel’chikov, Iu. A., and M. S. Paniusheva. Trudnye sluchai upotrebleniia odnokorennykh slov russkogo iazyka: Slovar’-spravochnik. Moscow, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
Readers are expected to know the meanings of many technical terms, such as metatropy, metonomasia, paronymic attraction (which seems to be similar to folk etymology), etc.
Given that homophonic, homographic and paronymic types of puns emerge semantically relatively unproblematic, (4) the following brief discussion will be apposite to the homonymic variety of pun alone.
In a similar vein, intuitive approach will be favoured in fixing the lower level of formal similarity in paronymy, where neither the length of paronymic pairs nor the number of shared phonemes will emerge as an apposite criterion.
Conversely, all the above patterns can be successfully incorporated into homophonic and paronymic structures alike.
39] They also refer the reader to the subtle paronymic analyses of Francois Rigolot in his cratylic Poetique et onomastique of 1977.
The first surprise is that the author's name is not Helene, but is strangely like Helene, a Greek Helene perhaps, or indeed an infernal Helene (the disconcerting use of the word enfer a few lines down suggests that resonances of the English word "hell" are to be heard, just as the choice of the word echelle may be motivated by the close paronymic relation in English between "letter" and "ladder" (3)).