Call for information

I’m posting this in the hope that one or more of my Loyal Readers will be able to help me with a small difficulty. I’m looking for a word. More precisely, I’m looking to see if there is a word.

I want to find out whether there is a specific technical term for the kind of name whose literal meaning is the complete opposite of the thing it actually refers to. I don’t mean an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms, I mean things like these:

  • The Australian habit of calling redheads ‘Blue’.
  • The Holy Roman Empire, which as Voltaire observed, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.
  • Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’, which produced nothing but lies.
  • ‘Democratic People’s Republic’ almost anywhere you find it, but especially as applied to the comic-opera régime of North Korea, an unconstitutional hereditary monarchy in which the people count for nothing.

I have a sort of vague intimation that there is a term for these kinds of names, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. It may be Latin or Greek in origin, a whatsitation or thingumanym. (I may adopt thingumanym anyway, as a kind of meta-name for ‘some particular class of words that hasn’t got a name, but you know the ones I mean in this context’.)

So, what’s the proper word for these thingumanyms? Anyone? Bueller?