Teknonymy (from Greek: τέκνον, "child" and Greek: ὄνομα, "name"),[1] is the practice of referring to parents by the names of their children. This practice can be found in many different cultures around the world. The term was coined by anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in an 1889 paper.[2] Such names are called teknonyms, teknonymics, or paedonymics.[3]

Teknonymy can be found in:

  • Various Austronesian peoples:
  • the Korean language; for example, if a Korean woman has a child named Su-min, she might be called Su-min Eomma (meaning "mother of Su-min")[2]
  • Chinese language has similar but also very flexible phenomenon. Suppose a boy's nickname at home is “二儿” (Er'er), then the father of the child can call the child's mom as "他妈"/"孩儿他妈"/"二儿他妈", meaning "his mom"/"child's mom"/"Er'er's mom," respectively.[10] Similar applies to the boy's mom calling her husband (i.e. the boy's dad) by changing "妈" (mom) to "爸/爹" (dad). This usage is mostly used between the parents of the child, but can also be used in some limited scenarios, e.g. the child's teacher calling the child's parents.
  • the Arab world; for example, if a Saudi man named Hasan has a male child named Zayn, Hasan will now be known as Abu Zayn (literally, "Father of Zayn"). Similarly, Umm Malik (Malik is a name used for males) is "Mother of Malik". This is known as a kunya in Arabic and is used as a sign of respect for others.
  • Amazonia[11]
  • the Zuni language
  • Swahili, as spoken in Tanzania and Kenya;[12] for example, if a woman has a son named Musa, the woman would be known as Mama Musa. Musa's father would be known as Baba Musa.
  • to some extent, Habesha people in the Horn of Africa
  • the Yoruba language of Western Africa; for example, if a woman has a son named Femi, will now be known as iya Femi (meaning mother of Femi) and her husband baba Femi (meaning father of Femi).
  • the Hausa language of Africa; for example, if a man has a son named Adam, the man will be known as Baban Adam, while his wife would be called Maman Adam.
  • the Nupe people of Nigeria; for example, if a man has a son named Isyaku, he will be known as Baba Isyaku, whereas his wife would be called Nna Isyaku.
  • Bangladeshi people

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Reflections on Japanese Language and Culture. Studies in the humanities and social relations. Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies, Keio University. 1987. p. 65. Retrieved 16 June 2019. On the Notion of Teknonymy In the field of anthropology, the custom of calling the parent after the child is known as teknonymy, a term coined from the Greek word teknon "child" and the anglicized form of onoma as onymy "name".
  2. ^ a b Lee, Kwang-Kyu; Kim Harvey, Youngsook (1973). "Teknonymy and Geononymy in Korean Kinship Terminology". Ethnology. 12 (1): 31–46. doi:10.2307/3773095. JSTOR 3773095.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (2005), "paedonymic, n."
  4. ^ Winarnita, Monika; Herriman, Nicholas (2012). "Marriage Migration to the Malay Muslim community of Home Island (Cocos Keeling Islands)". Indonesia and the Malay World. 40 (118): 372–387. doi:10.1080/13639811.2012.709020. S2CID 162569220.
  5. ^ Geertz, Hildred; Geertz, Clifford (1964). "Teknonymy in Bali: Parenthood, Age-Grading and Genealogical Amnesia". The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 94 (2): 94–108. doi:10.2307/2844376. JSTOR 2844376.
  6. ^ Needham, Rodney (1954). "The System of Teknonyms and Death-Names of the Penan". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology. 10 (4): 416–431. doi:10.1086/soutjanth.10.4.3628836. JSTOR 3628836. S2CID 147119191.
  7. ^ Bloch, Maurice (2006). "Teknonymy and the evocation of the 'social' among the Zafimaniry of Madagascar". In vom Bruck, Gabriele; Bodenhorn, Barbara (eds.). An Anthropology of Names and Naming. Cambridge University Press. pp. 97–114. ISBN 978-0-521-84863-3.
  8. ^ Hammons, Christian (2010). Sakaliou: Reciprocity, mimesis, and the cultural economy of tradition in Siberut, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia. University of Southern California.
  9. ^ Kao, Hsin-chieh (2012). Labour, life, and language: Personhood and relations among the Yami of Lanyu. Doctoral dissertation. University of St. Andrews, Department of Social Anthropology. p. 56. hdl:10023/3206.
  10. ^ Gao, Yingpei. "相声·钓鱼". YouTube. Tianjin TV Station. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  11. ^ Vilaça, Aparecida (2002). "Making Kin out of Others in Amazonia". The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 8 (2): 347–365. doi:10.1111/1467-9655.00007. JSTOR 3134479.
  12. ^ Russell, Joan (2012). Complete Swahili, Teach Yourself. Hachette. ISBN 9781444173437.

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of teknonym at Wiktionary