What word do you use to describe groups of words that represent the output of the same phonology?

For example, here are some words I found from looking at maps & name lists for different countries:


  • Le Moulinel
  • Écuires
  • Neuville-Sous Montreuil
  • Fontaine
  • Antoine
  • Jacques
  • d'Artagnan


  • Zhuzhikoudong
  • Fucheng
  • Souzhou
  • Lianhuachi
  • Chang
  • Huang
  • Gāo


  • Eisenach
  • Wolfsburg-Unkeroda
  • Grüner Jäger
  • Weihersgrund
  • Meinke
  • Müller
  • Schneider


  • Nyeri
  • Kirinyaga
  • Nkubu
  • Mitunguu
  • Kamau
  • Wanjiku
  • Njeri

In the above examples, each of these groups of words sound distinct from each other, yet the words within each individual group are similar enough that they sound as though they all belong to the same language/culture.

Is there a word for such groups of words?

  • But they do belong to the same culture/language. The distinction is probably about proper names.
    – Lambie
    Feb 11, 2023 at 19:02
  • 1
    I have the strong feeling that I have seen this question before, but search does not find it any longer. Feb 11, 2023 at 21:03
  • I think that the terms "actual French words," "actual Chinese words," and "actual words [in whatever Kenyan language you are talking about] have you covered. If the words in question didn't have meanings assigned to them, you could talk about "possible French words," etc. Feb 22, 2023 at 1:41

1 Answer 1



While there may not be a single word in the English language that fits the bill, per se, I bought a book on conlangs, and have found a term that describes what I was looking for,— being "phonotactic constraints".

  • 4
    Phonotactic constraints are (part of) the reason why these words sound related within their subgroups, but they’re not really a description of the notion you’re asking about (I don’t know of a term either). Feb 11, 2023 at 10:39
  • 1
    Well, it's good enough for me until I can find something better. :) Feb 11, 2023 at 14:35

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