misnomer

[mis-noh-mer]
noun
1.
a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.
2.
an error in naming a person or thing.

Origin:
1425–75; late Middle English < Anglo-French, noun use of Middle French mesnomer ‘to misname’, equivalent to mes- mis-1 + nomer < Latin nōmināre; see nominate

misnomer, mistake (see confusables note at the current entry).


Misnomer is not a fancy, more elevated word for mistake. Nor is it a synonym for misstatement, misconception, or misunderstanding. As the word's Latin etymon nōmināre (‘to name’) tells us, a misnomer is a special kind of mistake: a wrong name. The consequences of a mistake can range from trivial to catastrophic—from typos to train wrecks. But a misnomer is often just embarrassing, like trying to impress a friend by referrring to a Burgundy wine as a “Bordeaux.” Sometimes, however, what began as a misnomer has become a standard term: the game of Chinese checkers does not come from China; the funny bone is a nerve, not a bone; hay fever is not caused by hay and is not a fever; and a pregnant woman's morning sickness can occur at any time of day. Other kinds of mistakes or misunderstandings—giving a driver wrong directions, thinking that the earth is flat, drawing an erroneous conclusion—are not misnomers. In fact, the word misnomer when used to describe a behavioral mistake or a misperception of reality is itself a misnomer!
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
misnomer (ˌmɪsˈnəʊmə)
 
n
1.  an incorrect or unsuitable name or term for a person or thing
2.  the act of referring to a person by the wrong name
 
[C15: via Anglo-Norman from Old French mesnommer to misname, from Latin nōmināre to call by name]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

misnomer
mid-15c., from Anglo-Fr., from M.Fr. mesnomer "to misname," from mes- "wrongly" (see mis- (2)) + nomer "to name," from L. nominare "nominate" (see nominate).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Early archaeologists can be forgiven the misnomer, though.
The good news is that the title of this book is a bit of a misnomer, since it
  isn't a fad diet consisting only of rice.
The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer.
In the first place, summer radish is a misnomer.
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