from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective grammar Of a phrase (especially an adjective), possessing the property it describes.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From German autologisch, from Ancient Greek αὐτός (autos, "self") + λόγος (logos, "word").


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  • To each word there corresponds a concept, that the very word designates, and which applies to it or does not apply; in the first case, we call the word autological, else heterological.

    Paradoxes and Contemporary Logic

  • PS sesquipedalian is my favourite autological word .

    Harriet Harman's Lesson in Shallowness

  • Assuming that the word is autological, the concept that it designates applies, hence

    Paradoxes and Contemporary Logic

  • Now the word ˜heterological™ itself is autological or heterological.

    Paradoxes and Contemporary Logic

  • An autological word describes itself, e.g., ˜polysyllabic™ is polysllabic, ˜English™ is English, ˜noun™ is a noun, etc.

    Epistemic Paradoxes

  • If ˜heterological™ is heterological, then since it describes itself, it is autological.

    Epistemic Paradoxes

  • Now for the riddle: Is ˜heterological™ heterological or autological?

    Epistemic Paradoxes

  • Kurt Grelling's paradox, for instance, opens with a distinction between autological and heterological words.

    Epistemic Paradoxes

  • -- I mean these with love! fish: Ivan Soll. bird: Mike Byrd. occupation: Terry Penner. (archaic -- and that aspect is also autological!).

    fragments of consciousness

  • Marcus Singer. autological: Elliott Sober. (and Carolina Sartorio -- is this a borderline case?) heterological: Claudia Card. (slang -- and could be autological, depending on mood) sentence (imperative): Lester Hunt and Dennis Stampe. (borderline cases -- Haskell Fain and Alan Sidelle)

    fragments of consciousness


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  • An autological adjective is one which is self-descriptive; "pentasyllabic", "awkwardfulness", "short". A heterological adjective is not self-descriptive; "edible", "hungry", "monosyllabic", "long".

    January 25, 2008

  • A word which is an example of itself is autological. For example polysyllabic is autological.

    June 11, 2009

  • Is autological itself an autological word? The question's trickier than it sounds. In order to know if a word describes itself, we must look at the definition of the word which in this case is a word which describes itself. So asking this question brings us right back to the same question again! It creates an endless logical loop, also known as a strange loop. Until we know if autological describes itself or not, we can't answer that very question - and so the question is unanswerable.

    January 5, 2010

  • JM can't figure out if autological is autological.

    January 30, 2011

  • dagfooyo & jmjarmstrong: The paradox you described is the Grelling–Nelson paradox. Grelling and Nelson defined* “autological” (and its opposite, “heterological”) specifically for the purpose of expressing the paradox. The fact that you both inferred the paradox from the word alone, in my opinion, makes “autological” a single-word koan.

    See also Russell's paradox.

    * I don’t know whether these words were already in use before Nelson and Grelling’s 1908 paper, so I can’t guarantee that they coined them.

    February 1, 2011

  • Utahraptor: So is "heterological" heterological?

    T-Rex: Well if it IS, then it's self-describing, which means autological. And if it ISN'T, then it's autological again too. Huh. If this paradox is supposed to make me trip balls, you should know I've taken the precaution of having them TIGHTLY SECURED.

    July 13, 2011

  • My favourite autological word is oxymoron.

    May 28, 2012