A name (etymology: from OE nama; akin to OHG namo, Latin nomen, and Greek όνομα (onoma), ultimately from PIE: *nomn- ) is a label for a noun, (human or animal, thing, place, product (as in a brand name) and even an idea or concept), 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. 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 name".
The use of personal names is not unique to humans. Dolphins also use symbolic names, as has been shown by recent research. 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.
Naming is the process of assigning a particular word or phrase to a particular object or property. This can be quite deliberate or a natural process that occurs in the flow of life as some phenomenon comes to the attention of the users of a language. Many new words or phrases come into existence during translation as attempts are made to express concepts from one language in another.Many of these names have meanings that can also be very helpful during this process.
Besides their grammatical function, names can have additional or pure honorary and memorial values. For example, the posthumous name's primary function is commemorative.
Care must be taken in translation, for there are ways that one language may prefer one type of name over another. For example, there are "merchants' and sailors' terms" for their own convenience: the spellings Leghorn, Genoa, and Rome do not appear on Italian maps. Also, 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.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;It has been argued that Shakespeare reveals the boundaries of the term name by proposing that a rose would smell sweet regardless of what we call it; therefore suggesting someone's name should not change them.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Russell's position is that that most or all English names really do the former. This position came to be known as Descriptivism with respect to singular terms, and was prominent through much of twentieth-century analytic philosophy.
Kripke's work led to the development of various versions of the Causal theory of reference, which in various forms claims that our words mean what they do, not because of associated descriptions, but because of the causal history of the acquisition of that name in a vocabulary.
In multiple world mythologies and folklore, knowing the name of a thing is considered to have power over a thing (to varying degrees).
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 the ancient world, particularly in the ancient near-east (Israel / Palestine, 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.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.
Names are attributed added significance in traditional Jewish sources. In the Jewish religion, it is not uncommon for children to be named after relatives who have died.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 supposedly 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 was passed from generation to generation. However, they were typically known as the child of their father. For example: 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.
|Name of a...||Name of name|
|Body of water||Hydronym|
|Author writing under an assumed name||Pen name or pseudonym|
|Other names||-onym-suffixed words.|
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:
Large corporate, university, or government campuses may follow a naming convention for rooms within the buildings to help orient tenants and visitors.
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. In other cultures, the name may include the place of residence. 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.