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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ceremonies, such as baptism, can be used to give names.

A name is a label for a noun, normally used to distinguish one from another. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. A personal name identifies a specific unique and identifiable individual person, and may or may not include a middle name. The name of a specific entity is sometimes called a proper name (although that term has a philosophical meaning also) and is a proper noun. Other nouns are sometimes, more loosely, called names; an older term for them, now obsolete, is "general names".

The use of personal names is not unique to humans. Dolphins also use symbolic names, as has been shown by recent research.[1] Individual dolphins have individual whistles, to which they will respond even when there is no other information to clarify which dolphin is being referred to.

Care must be taken in translation, for there are ways that one language may prefer one type of name over another. A feudal naming habit is used sometimes in other languages: the French often refer to Aristotle as "le Stagirite" from one spelling of his place of birth, and English speakers often refer to Shakespeare as "The Bard", recognizing him as a paragon writer of the language. Finally, claims to preference or authority can be refuted: the British did not refer to Louis-Napoleon as Napoleon III during his rule.



The word "name" comes from Old English nama; akin to Old High German (OHG) namo, Latin nomen, and Greek ὄνομα (onoma), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE): *nomn-.[2]

In mythology

In Arthurian mythology, part of the code of honor and chivalry practiced by knights is that a knight who loses a duel must reveal his name to the victor. It is considered a breach of honor or decorum to reveal one's name before combat. A frequent topos is that a defeated knight will, after revealing his name, ask the victor what his name is: if the victor turns out to actually be a much more strong and famous knight (e.g. one of Arthur's knights) the loser actually saves face, because he was beaten by a knight obviously held to already be stronger than him, and thus there is no shame in defeat. However, if a strong and powerful knight is defeated, and the victor turns out to be a relatively unknown and not particularly strong knight, it is a grave humiliation. As a result of this pattern, it is considered extremely odd within the rules of Arthurian society when a knight refuses to take off his helmet or reveal his identity, even after he has won a duel. Sometimes this results from the victorious knight simply not knowing his own name, as was the case with Lancelot and Percival during their early careers; this inability to reveal their own name even in victory led many to incorrectly assume they were trying to intentionally insult the vanquished. A major exception to this rule is Sir Gawain: Gawain considers himself to be the greatest of his uncle Arthur's knights, and he feels that his honor is so great that he does not need to hide from revealing it. Thus at the opening of any duel Gawain will simply openly announce "I am Gawain", as it will not diminish his honor to reveal it.

In religious thought

In the ancient world, particularly in the ancient near-east (Israel, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia) names were thought to be extremely powerful and to act, in some ways, as a separate manifestation of a person or deity.[3] This viewpoint is responsible both for the reluctance to use the proper name of God in Hebrew writing or speech, as well as the common understanding in ancient magic that magical rituals had to be carried out "in [someone's] name". By invoking a god or spirit by name, one was thought to be able to summon that spirit's power for some kind of miracle or magic (see Luke 9:49, in which the disciples claim to have seen a man driving out demons using the name of Jesus.) This understanding passed into later religious tradition, for example the stipulation in Catholic exorcism that the demon cannot be expelled until the exorcist has forced it to give up its name, at which point the name may be used in a stern command which will drive the demon away.

Biblical names

In the Old Testament, the names of individuals are meaningful; for example, Adam is named after the "earth" (Adam) from which he was created. (Genesis 2)

A change of name indicates a change of status. For example, the patriarch Abram and his wife Sarai are renamed "Abraham" and "Sarah" when they are told they will be the father and mother of many nations (Genesis 17:4, 17:15). Simon was renamed Peter when he was given the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 16).

Throughout the Bible, characters are given names at birth that reflect something of significance or describe the course of their lives. For example: Solomon meant peace, and the king with that name was the first whose reign was without warfare. Likewise, Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh (Hebrew: "causing to forget") as a gesture of forgiveness to his brothers for selling him into slavery.

Biblical Jewish people did not have surnames which were passed from generation to generation. However, they were typically known as the child of their father. For example: דוד בן ישי (David ben Yishay) meaning, David, son of Jesse. In a sense, they used their fathers' first names as their own last names, a practice done by most Muslims today. Similary to Jewish names, the "ben" is in place by "bin" or "ibn" for males, "binte", "binti" or "ibnu" for females to Muslims. Sometimes, names include "Al-", "Ali-", "-allah", "-lah/-llah" or "-ullah" as it means "a servant to god" or "god's servant". They would sometimes indicate the place they or their child live in.

Talmudic attitudes

The Babylonian Talmud maintains that names exert a mystical influence over their bearers, and a change of name is one of four actions that can avert an evil heavenly decree, that would lead to punishment after one's death. Rabbinical commentators differ as to whether the name's influence is metaphysical, connecting a person to their soul, or bio-socio-psychological, where the connection affects his personality, appearance and social capacities. The Talmud also states that all those who descend to Gehenna will rise in the time of Messiah. However, there are three exceptions, one of which is he who calls another by a derisive nickname.

Technical names for names

Names for names
Name of a... Name of name
Person Anthroponym
Place Toponym
Body of water Hydronym
Ethnic group Ethnonym
False name Pseudonym
Author writing under an assumed name Pen name or pseudonym
Item named after a person Eponym
Other names -onym-suffixed words.

Naming convention

For Wikipedia's own naming conventions see Wikipedia:Article titles

A naming convention is an attempt to systematize names in a field so they unambiguously convey similar information in a similar manner.

Several major naming conventions include:

Naming conventions are useful in many aspects of everyday life, enabling the casual user to understand larger structures.

Street names within a city may follow a naming convention; some examples include:

  • In Manhattan, roads that go across the island (East-West) are called "Streets", while those that run the length of the island (North-South) are called "Avenues". Manhattan streets and avenues are numbered, with "1st Street" being near the southern end of the island, and "219th Street" being near the northern end, while "1st Avenue" is near the eastern edge of the island and "12th Avenue" near the western edge.
  • In Ontario, numbered concession roads are East-West whereas "lines" are North-South routes.
  • In San Francisco at least three series of parallel streets are alphabetically named, e.g. Irving, Judah, Kirkham, Lawton, Moraga, Noriega, Ortega, Pacheco, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente, Wawona.
  • The same tendency is seen in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, where Arlington Street is followed by roads to the west running parallel to it and named Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford.
  • In Washington, DC, east-west streets towards the south (toward the Potomac River are lettered A, B, C,..., omitting J to avoid confusion on street signs and addresses, but after these are exhausted to the north, the streets are named with simple words in alpabetical order, omitting a few letters such as "x". The first cycle of names consists all of one-syllable words; then followed by a cycle of two-syllable words; then followed by a cycle of three-syllable words, and before these are exhausted, Maryland is reached. (Washington has north-south streets that are numbered, going from west to east.)
  • In Montgomery, Alabama, the old major avenues are named for the Presidents of the United States, in their order of entering office, omitting John Quincy Adams. Hence, these streets are Washington Ave., Adams Ave., Jefferson Ave., Madison Ave., Monroe Ave., Jackson Ave., but not much farther than that. This was just the old plan from a long time ago, and it was eventually dropped. For example, there is not a Buchanan Ave., a Lincoln Ave., or a Johnson Ave.
  • In Brampton, Ontario, different sections of town all have streets starting with the same letter and the alphabetical order reflects chronology.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona, roads east of Central Avenue are termed streets while those west are Avenues.

Large corporate, university, or government campuses may follow a naming convention for rooms within the buildings to help orient tenants and visitors. Otherwise, rooms may be numbered in some kind of a rational scheme.

Parents may follow a naming convention when selecting names for their children. Some have chosen alphabetical names by birth order. In some East Asian cultures, it is common for one syllable in a two syllable given name to be a generation name which is the same for immediate siblings. In many cultures it is common for the son to be named after the father or a grandfather. In certain African cultures, such as in Cameroon, the eldest son gets the family name for his given name, also, giving names such as "Thomas Thomas" (but the names are not European names like this one).

In other cultures, the name may include the place of residence, or the place of birth. The Roman naming convention denotes social rank.

Products may follow a naming convention. Automobiles typically have a binomial name, a "make" (manufacturer) and a "model", in addition to a model year, such as a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette. Sometimes there is a name for the car's "decoration level" or "trim line" as well: e.g., Cadillac Escalade EXT Platinum, after the precious metal. Computers often have increasing numbers in their names to signify the next generation.

Courses at schools typically follow a naming convention: an abbreviation for the subject area and then a number ordered by increasing level of difficulty.

Many numbers (e.g. bank accounts, government IDs, credit cards, etc) are not random but have an internal structure and convention. Virtually all organizations that assign names or numbers will follow some convention in generating these identifiers. Airline flight numbers, Space shuttle flight numbers, even phone numbers all have an internal convention.

Brand names

The process of developing a name for a brand or product is heavily influenced by marketing research and strategy to be appealing and marketable. The brand name is often a neologism or pseudoword, such as Kodak or Sony.

Literary names

In fiction, proper names of people or places are often unique to the work in which they appear. Although, within the work of fiction proper, the name may nontheless be said to have a certain ethnic origin, the name itself may not actually exist. For example, the character of Ororo Munro (Storm of the X-Men franchise) is of African descent. Her first name, however is not an authentic African name. Names may also be created to either represent ethnic neutrality or corruption of a name with the passage of time. This is a common technique used by science fiction and fantasy writers who may also employ alternate spellings of existing names. Also, many science fiction operates on the premise that racial and ethnic boundaries will cease to exist in the future thus producing names that appear to be mixes of different ethnic sources. Yoshiyuki Tomino (creator of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam) is notable for creating character names that are unusual, exotic, and sometimes silly sounding. Examples include Char Aznable (which is actually based on a real person), Bright Noa, Quess Paraya, and Marvel Frozen. The science fiction writer Isaac Asimov has also created names which may or may not be variants or corruptions of existing or ancient names. Examples include Dors Venabili, R. Daneel Olivaw, and Giskard Reventlov. The Star Wars and Dune franchises contains many character names that juggle existing names with created ones; Leia Organa, Ben Kenobi, Paul Atreides, Vladimir Harkonnen.

Name Generator

A name generator is a program that uses language rules or word combining techniques to generate a list of names.

See also


  1. ^ "Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says". National Geographic News. May 8, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2008-09-20. ; The asterisk before a word indicates that it is a hypothetical construction, not an attested form.
  3. ^ "Egyptian Religion", E.A Wallis Budge", Arkana 1987 edition, ISBN 0-14-019017-1

Further reading

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to A Name article)

From Wikisource

A Name
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Addressed to my grand-nephew, Greenleaf Whittier Pickard. Jonathan Greenleaf, in A Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family, says briefly: "From all that can be gathered, it is believed that the ancestors of the Greenleaf family were Huguenots, who left France on account of their religious principles some time in the course of the sixteenth century, and settled in England. The name was probably translated from the French Feuillevert."

The name the Gallic exile bore,
St. Malo! from thy ancient mart,
Became upon our Western shore
Greenleaf for Feuillevert.

A name to hear in soft accord
Of leaves by light winds overrun,
Or read, upon the greening sward
Of May, in shade and sun.

The name my infant ear first heard
Breathed softly with a mother's kiss;
His mother's own, no tenderer word
My father spake than this.

No child have I to bear it on;
Be thou its keeper; let it take
From gifts well used and duty done
New beauty for thy sake.

The fair ideals that outran
My halting footsteps seek and find--
The flawless symmetry of man,
The poise of heart and mind.

Stand firmly where I felt the sway
Of every wing that fancy flew,
See clearly where I groped my way,
Nor real from seeming knew.

And wisely choose, and bravely hold
Thy faith unswerved by cross or crown,
Like the stout Huguenot of old
Whose name to thee comes down.

As Marot's songs made glad the heart
Of that lone exile, haply mine
May in life's heavy hours impart
Some strength and hope to thine.

Yet when did Age transfer to Youth
The hard-gained lessons of its day?
Each lip must learn the taste of truth,
Each foot must feel its way.

We cannot hold the hands of choice
That touch or shun life's fateful keys;
The whisper of the inward voice
Is more than homilies.

Dear boy! for whom the flowers are born,
Stars shine, and happy song-birds sing,
What can my evening give to morn,
My winter to thy spring!

A life not void of pure intent,
With small desert of praise or blame,
The love I felt, the good I meant,
I leave thee with my name.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also name, nàme, and ñame




From Old High German namo



Name m. (genitive Namens, plural Namen)

  1. Name, forename, Christian name, given name
  2. Surname, family name


Derived terms

Simple English

Name is a word (or a set of words) given to things and people.

For example, cat is the name of a kind of animal. "Ryan" is a name of a person, usually a male. "Julia" is a common female name.

The word 'name' can also be used as a verb. To name something is to give it a name.

People's names

In many cultures, there are rules and customs about how to give a person a name.

Some of the rules are defined by laws, and others are defined by traditions (doing things in the way they have been done for a long time).

There are rules about different aspects of the names and naming, including the following:

1. Number of parts of a name

In some cultures, a person has a one-part name, such as "ShiningWater."

In other cultures, a person has a two-part name, such as "John Smith."

In some cultures, a person can have any number of name parts. In the United States, for example, some people have three: first name, middle name, and last name. Other people have only two: a first and last name.

In Chinese cultures, it is typical for a person to have three-part name, such as "Cheah Ching San," where "Cheah" is the surname. Written in English format a comma is introduced making it "Ching San, Cheah."

2. Relations with names of parents and other relatives

In some cultures, people have the same "family name" (or surname) as their parents. For example, the father of John Smith may be Mike Smith. And Mike Smith's father may be James Smith. The "Smith" part is the same for all the family.

In other cultures, a person has the same name as his or her father, but the name is in a different place. For example, Shafiq Hanif's son may be Hanif Kamal. Hanif is in both the father's and son's name.

3. Name changes

In some cultures, a name changes when people marry, divorce, go through some religious ceremony, etc. For example, in some Spanish-speaking countries, people use two last names: their mother's father's name and their father's name. If Elena Rodriguez Gomez and Jose Sanchez Soria marry, she may change her name to Elena Rodriguez de Sanchez, and their child could be named Pilar Sanchez Rodriguez, taking the names of both of her grandfathers.

4. Name origins

In some cultures, personal names come from history. In most European countries, some first names are taken from the Bible. In some cultures, names are taken from a relative. In other cultures, a name shows what the parents hope their child will be like. A baby may be given a name Wisdom because parents hope the baby will be a wise girl or boy.

Some cultures avoid giving people a name of an animal. For example, there is no name like dog, cat, snake, owl, or fish in Japanese people's first names. But in some cultures animal names may be good.

5. Lengths, pronunciations, spelling, etc.

In some languages and cultures, you can tell if a word is a person's name or not by just looking at the spelling or listening to its pronunciation. There are some other linguistic patterns. For example, many Chinese names are made up of three syllables.

6. Use of names, titles, nicknames, etc.

In some cultures, people use names when they call each other. In other cultures, people use their nicknames. In some other cultures, people use their titles ("father," "professor," etc.) when they call each other.

7. Spelling of names, titles, nicknames, etc.

8. Name awareness

Taking note of names is taken a step farther by those who elect to celebrate a name (e.g., "Celebrate Your Name Week") whether their own name, someone else's name, or names in general, complete ownership of one's name might very well include celebrating it.

9. Middle names

While some people might choose to "hide" a middle name for any number of reasons (i.e., they consider the middle name they were given to be an "embarrassment"), others have taken to celebrating their middle name (e.g., "Middle Name Pride Day").

In the English language, names exclusively are usually pronounced in correlation with the spelling, however can be pronounced as desired, e.g. John is (jon) but can also be (ned). However not probable, is held true in the English rules of grammar.

Examples of names

Sarah, Lucy, Ellen, Claire, Ben.

Names can be shortened e.g. Isabelle can become Izzy or Belle.

Japanese names

Here are some things that are often found in Japanese names today. In the past, people went by different rules.

1. Number of parts of a name

Japanese names have two parts. One is the family name and the other is the given name.

"Suzuki Ichiro" is a name of a Japanese person. Suzuki is the family name, and Ichiro is the first name. In the Japanese language, the family name comes first, and the given name comes second. (It is like writing Smith John, instead of John Smith.)

Only some members of the royal family do not have a family name.

2. Relations with names of parents and other relatives

A newborn baby gets a family name from their parents. The parents have the same family name. So, a son of Ono Yoko (female) and Ono Ken (male) is Ono something.

The family name Ono is mostly shared by the paternal (male) part of the family. So Ono Ken's parents have the family name Ono, but Ono Yoko's parents probably do not.

3. Name changes

Names of people change when they marry and divorce. It is a custom in many parts of the world that women change their family name to that of their new husband when they marry. However, in Europe and North America especially, many women no longer do this even though their mothers and grandmothers may have. Sometimes, the man will take the woman's family name.

4. Name origins

5. Lengths, pronunciations, spelling, etc.

6. Use of names, titles, nicknames, etc. bjn:Ngaran

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