SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1993

Onometrics: The Formal Evaluation of Terms


This paper outlines a new formal approach to term evaluation which I call onometrics. Essentially, this approach is more systematic, explicit, objective, and complete than previous informal approaches. Principles of metrics in general are surveyed, after which a battery of 17 term-evaluating criteria is detailed. The criteria are: (1) accuracy, (2) precision, (3) descriptiveness/transparency, (4) unequivocalness, (5) mononymy, (6) appropriate register, (7) precedent, (8) conciseness, (9) appropriate simplicity, (10) form correctness, (11) etymological purity, (12) derivability, (13) inflectability, (14) series uniformity, (15) acceptability, (16) euphony, and (17) pronounceability. Considerable disunity of terminology exists in the literature, as shown by the numerous synonyms cited for these criteria. The battery is a fairly comprehensive catalog of onometric qualities and is especially useful in comparing alternative names. For standards developers as well as individual writers, the battery helps to minimize intuition and subjectivity in naming and name evaluation by providing logical grounds for the preference and deprecation of terms. This objective approach should lead to better terminology and thus better communication.

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Gilreath, CT
Florand Corporation, Gainesville, FL
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Developed by Committee: E02
Pages: 75–94
DOI: 10.1520/STP17997S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5227-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1493-7