How to tell which words to use in Esperanto?

I downloaded an Esperanto dictionary from Paul Denisowski’s Esperanto page, but I’m finding a number of different listings for many words. For instance, I was looking up the word “nickname”, and I found 7 different entries. I don’t think I’ll ever remember all 7 words, and I’m wondering if the word taught on Duolingo (kaŝnomo) is the most used word or not. Lernu lists kromnomo while Google Translate lists alnomo! Is there a way to tell which words in the dictionary are the most used, or are there different instances where you’ll use different words, or are the many words regional use variations?


January 30, 2018


It's an interesting question you asked, I've been wondering about this too.

I mostly use this site when looking for Esperanto words. It gave me seven posibble terms too, with two of them being similar. Here's my take on this:

First some grammar in order to understand what's going on there. In Esperanto words can be joined, for example:

"libertempo" - free time ="libero" - freedom + "tempo" - time

When a noun is joined with another noun, the first one looses the -o ending.

  • Alnomo - "al" means "to, at, towards"; an additional name,

  • Kromnomo - "krom" means "except, besides, apart from"; a name you use besides your real one, a byname

  • Apudnomo - "apud" means "near, besides"; another name you use, a byname

  • Kaŝnomo - " kaŝo" means "hiding"; a pseudonym, name to hide your real name

  • Karesnomo - "kareso" means "caress", "endearment"; a pet name, an endearment name

  • Moknomo/moknono - "moko" means "mockery"; a mocking name

Here is a wiktionary page with more explanation at the bottom ("see also").

"kaŝnomo (“pseudonym”), moknomo (“derogatory nickname”), neformala nomo (“informal name”), ŝercnomo (“joking nickname”)"

It lists both "alnomo" and "kromnomo" as synonyms for "nickname, byname".

I also found another site; you can google:
" nickname [epo] "
and most of the -nomo examples show up. In the "tradukoj" table, translations for many languages are given, so just look at the "angla" one.

I think you have to analyze words and pick the one that suits best the context and meaning you are trying to convey. I'm fairly new at Esperanto (freshly finished the tree) but I hope this helps you :)

January 30, 2018

Who voted this down? I thought this answer was very concise and informative. Have a lingot.

January 30, 2018

I can't speak for anybody else, but I have a few concerns about this post myself. It looks authoritative, but the comment is from someone who says:

I'm fairly new at Esperanto (freshly finished the tree)

I do not recommend ESPDIC for learners, and I also do not recommend (as MyaRexa seems to.) The truth in the post is that many of these words mean different things (and might not even mean "nickname") - but the format seems to suggest that they are all equal, which they are not. For example, I'd never heard of alnomo, which apparently is not a nickname, but a title of sorts like "the lion hearted."

I have my doubts about apudnomo. Who says that?

If we want a more comprehensive list, we could add pensnomo, plumnomo, and alinomo.

All in all, not a bad answer. I agree with you, mostly. If someone wants to vote something down, they should say why or offer up a better answer.

January 30, 2018

I'm very sorry if I caused offense or sounded authoritative. It was not my intention. I can't say I recommend, it's just the dictionary I use the most. I will refrain from posting in the Esperanto forums in the future. Sorry again.

January 30, 2018

No offense taken. And likewise, my apologies if my clarification came off as an attack. To me the bigger concern is people downvoting without putting up a better answer.

January 30, 2018

Well, I thought your response was very concise. I understand where salivanto is coming from (we certainly don't want to confound any aspiring polyglots), but I paid no attention to the sources you used, only to the logic with which you picked apart roots and related each sum of parts to different contextual situations. This is a very important skill to have when learning Esperanto (or so I'm beginning to learn).

Your contributions to the forum are much appreciated! :o)

January 31, 2018

"I think you have to analyze words and pick the one that suits best the context and meaning you are trying to convey." Excellent advice!

January 31, 2018

[deactivated user]

    first, mistrust Google Translate; it makes statistical guesses

    If your Esperanto reading skills are up to it, lets you search PIV; you can look up the different choices and see what the difference in meaning is.

    You can look at ; it's a corpus of 'correct' esperanto texts and it lets you search for specific words, phrases or patterns; if you have choices, the most common there is probably most correct

    January 30, 2018

    I am not familiar with Denisowski - but I just searched and I wonder if you're looking at ESPDIC. This is not a good dictionary. By the way, I see that it's for sale for $40 on Amazon. I wonder if it's a print-on-demand. In any event, it's not a good way to spend your money or learning time. ESPDIC by its own description aims to document all usages in Esperanto, regardless of whether they're logical, common, or considered worth imitating. Imagine trying to learn French from a dictionary which includes every mistake that any French 201 student ever made.

    How do you tell? I would start by checking PIV (at Even if you can't read the definition, this should give you some idea. You could also check the Wells dictionary, electronic copies of which do occasionally circulate. If you're going to spend more than an hour or two checking up on words, it will be well worth your money to buy a dictionary - something like the Benson/CEED or Wells should be available from your Landa Asocio and would be a good choice.

    January 30, 2018

    I am not familiar with Denisowski - but I just searched and I wonder if you're looking at ESPDIC. This is not a good dictionary. By the way, I see that it's for sale for $40 on Amazon. I wonder if it's a print-on-demand.

    He's pretty active on, or at least he was once upon a time. Personally, I do make use of ESPDIC if only because it's handy to have something I can run a quick grep against when I draw a blank on an Esperanto word. But, I'm aware of the ESPDIC's shortcomings so I don't rely on it for accuracy the way I would, say, Well's English-Esperanto-English Dictionary.

    Also, the work is licensed CC-BY 3.0 so anyone can make use of it for any reason as long as they give credit. This may explain the POD versions for sale on Amazon.

    January 31, 2018

    There's lots of crap Esperanto books on Amazon - CC or public domain works ... or machine translations of CC or public domain works ... or $15 used books sold for $85 as "rare.".

    January 31, 2018

    You're not joking. It's crazy.

    January 31, 2018

    Thanks for the recommendation of the Wells book. I found an electronic copy on Google Play. Now I just need to jump through their lengthy DRM hoops just to make it available offline on my reader! If you want an electronic version, I do NOT recommend getting it through Google Play. Saw a nook version on B&N after I got the GP version, and though I don't have a nook, I could have gotten an app to read the nook much easier than wrestling with this GP version. I have a slow internet connection, so I need to be able to access it offline, like I can all the other books I've purchased from other vendors.

    February 1, 2018

    MyaRexa, your comment and XcU1sulr's question on nicknames certainly did stimulate many interesting reponses. To both of you -- please keep up the good work.

    February 2, 2018

    Denisowski's ESPDIC is intended to document usages of words in Esperanto. It doesn't give guidance about GOOD usage, only about words that have appeared in the language.

    It has some utility as a research and linguistic tool, but I wouldn't recommend it for someone learning the language, or as a "regular" dictionary for everyday use.

    Because it documents usage without evaluating individual cases, there are misleading and incorrect entries.

    February 2, 2018
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