I am looking for a term that describes a specific category of words, as well as some other examples.

For example, the category homonyms. Homonyms (also called homophones) are words that sound like one another but have different meanings. Some homonyms are spelled the same, like bark (the sound a dog makes) and bark (the outer layer of a tree trunk).

So the category name I am looking for is for words where their word origin is false. Two examples of these words are sunrise and sunset. Sunrise and sunset are used to describe the Sun rising or setting over the horizon. However, the Sun does neither. The Sun does not move, as the Earth rotates on its axis and causes the appearance of the Sun moving.

What is this category of word called? And what would be some other examples?

  • The expectation that a word's current meaning should reflect its ultimate origins is a popular fallacy. Words are not so obliged. Best to give up that illusion.
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 30, 2015 at 22:57
  • I know there is a category name for these words, I just cant remember it.
    – Keltari
    Sep 30, 2015 at 23:09
  • Just to be pedantic: homophones only have to sound the same and mean something different. Homonyms have to sound the same and also be spelt the same.
    – Euan M
    Sep 10, 2017 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


With respect to English, there is a classification that describes a group of words for which the origin is false, but it is the origin of the word, and not the validity of its concept.

Pseudoetymological words have origins other than what is commonly thought or understood. For example, the idiom of "egging someone on" is commonly believed to have originated with someone with a bone to pick and eggs to throw, thus the encouragement originated from a desire to avoid being pelted with (possibly rotten) eggs. However, it's most likely a word handed down from Norse or Irish roots that means "to incite" that gained acceptance.

But back to your question, while the Earth does revolve around the sun and spin on its axis to create what we call "days," does this make it any less valid that the sun rises and sets with respect to the horizon?

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