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misnomer - vocabulary

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A name wrongly or mistakenly applied; an inappropriate or misapplied designation or name.

Cat-nap is a short nap taken while sitting; cat-ladder a kind of ladder used on sloping roofs of houses; cat-steps, the projections of the stones in the slanting part of the gable; cat-pipe, an artificial cat-call. Puss gentleman is eighteenth century for catamite. Kitty is a common poker term. Copy cat is a misnomer because cats never copy anybody. A common phrase for an unusual event is “enough to make a cat laugh,” but the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland” is not the only recorded example of a laughing cat. “Enough to make a cat speak” is a similar expression, but as I have pointed out in the preceding chapter, speaking cats are almost a commonplace.

—Carl Van Vechten The Tiger in the House (1922)

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