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Names of 2002 Bali bombings victims in Indonesia Balinese ground zero.JPG
Names of 2002 Bali bombings victims in Indonesia
A cartouche indicates that the Egyptian hieroglyphs enclosed are a royal name. Ramesses II cartouches at Tanis.jpg
A cartouche indicates that the Egyptian hieroglyphs enclosed are a royal name.

A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A personal name identifies, not necessarily uniquely, a specific individual human. The name of a specific entity is sometimes called a proper name (although that term has a philosophical meaning as well) and is, when consisting of only one word, a proper noun. Other nouns are sometimes called "common names" or (obsolete) "general names". A name can be given to a person, place, or thing; for example, parents can give their child a name or a scientist can give an element a name.



The word name comes from Old English nama; cognate with Old High German (OHG) namo, Sanskrit नामन् (nāman), Latin nomen , Greek ὄνομα (onoma), and Persian نام (nâm), from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *h₁nómn̥. [1] Outside Indo-European, it can be connected to Proto-Uralic *nime.

Naming conventions

A naming convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria for naming things

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

Major naming conventions include:

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.

Personal name

A personal name is an identifying word or words by which an individual is intimately known or designated. [2] In many countries, it is traditional for individuals to have a personal name (also called a given name or first name) and a surname (also called a last name or family name because it is shared by members of the same family). [3] Some people have two surnames, one inherited from each parent. In most of Europe and the Americas, the given name typically comes before the surname, whereas in parts of Asia and Hungary the surname comes before the given name. In some cultures it is traditional for a woman to take her husband's surname when she gets married.

A common practice in many countries is patronym which means that a component of a personal name is based on the given name of one's father. A less common practice in countries is matronym which means that a component of a personal name is based on the given name of one’s mother. In some East Asian cultures, it is traditional for given names to include a generation name, a syllable shared between siblings and cousins of the same generation.

Middle names are also used by many people as a third identifier, and can be chosen for personal reasons including signifying relationships, preserving pre-marital/maiden names (a popular practice in the United States), and to perpetuate family names. The practice of using middle names dates back to ancient Rome, where it was common for members of the elite to have a praenomen (a personal name), a nomen (a family name, not exactly used the way middle names are used today), and a cognomen (a name representing an individual attribute or the specific branch of a person's family). [4] Middle names eventually fell out of use, but regained popularity in Europe during the nineteenth century. [4]

Besides first, middle, and last names, individuals may also have nicknames, aliases, or titles. Nicknames are informal names used by friends or family to refer to a person ("Chris" may be used as a short form of the personal name "Christopher"). A person may choose to use an alias, or a fake name, instead of their real name, possibly to protect or obscure their identity. People may also have titles designating their role in an institution or profession (members of royal families may use various terms such as King, Queen, Duke, or Duchess to signify their positions of authority or their relation to the throne). [3]

Names of names

In onomastic terminology, personal names of men are called andronyms (from Ancient Greek ἀνήρ / man, and ὄνομα / name), [5] while personal names of women are called gynonyms (from Ancient Greek γυνή / woman, and ὄνομα / name). [6]

Names of humans (anthroponyms)
Name of ...Name of name
Full name of a person Personal name
First name of a person Given name
Family name Surname
Residents of a locality Demonym
Ethnic group Ethnonym
False or assumed name Pseudonym
Pseudonym of an author Pen name
Pseudonym of a performer Stage name
Other names -onym-suffixed words
Names of non-human entities
Name of a...Name of name
Any geographical object Toponym
Body of water Hydronym
Mountain or hill Oronym
Region or country Choronym
Any inhabited locality Econym
Town or cityastionym
Cosmic objectcosmonym
Other names -onym-suffixed words

Brand names

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.

Religious names

Two charts from an Arabic copy of the Secretum Secretorum for determining whether a person will live or die based on the numerical value of the patient's name. Secret of secrets a.jpg
Two charts from an Arabic copy of the Secretum Secretorum for determining whether a person will live or die based on the numerical value of the patient's name.

In the ancient world, particularly in the ancient near-east (Israel, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia) names were thought to be extremely powerful and act, in some ways, as a separate manifestation of a person or deity. [7] 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, and a change of name indicates a change of status. For example, the patriarch Abram and his wife Sarai were renamed "Abraham" and "Sarah" at the institution of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:4, 17:15). Simon was renamed Peter when he was given the Keys to Heaven. This is recounted in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16, which according to Roman Catholic teaching [8] was when Jesus promised to Saint Peter the power to take binding actions. [9] Proper names are "saturated with meaning". [10]

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, [11] and the king with that name was the first whose reign was without war. [12] Likewise, Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh (Hebrew: "causing to forget")(Genesis 41:51); when Joseph also said, "God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father's family." 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 (1 Samuel 17:12,58). Today, this style of name is still used in Jewish religious rites.

Indian name

Indian names are based on a variety of systems and naming conventions, which vary from region to region. Names are also influenced by religion and caste and may come from epics. India's population speaks a wide variety of languages and nearly every major religion in the world has a following in India. This variety makes for subtle, often confusing, differences in names and naming styles. Due to historical Indian cultural influences, several names across South and Southeast Asia are influenced by or adapted from Indian names or words.

For some Indians, their birth name is different from their official name; the birth name starts with a randomly selected name from the person's horoscope (based on the nakshatra or lunar mansion corresponding to the person's birth).

Many children are given three names, sometimes as a part of religious teaching.

Quranic names (Arabic names)

We can see many Arabic names in the Quran and in Muslim people. Like the names Allah, Muhammad, Khwaja, Ismail, Mehboob, Suhelahmed, Shoheb Ameena, Aaisha, Sameena, Rumana, Swaleha, etc. The name Mohammed and Ahmed are same, for example Suhel Ahmad or Mohammad Suhel are same. In Islam and in Christianity we can see many similar names like (the first name is Islamic name and the second name is Christian name Islamic/Christian) Adam/Adam, Yusuf/Joseph, Dawood/David, Rumana/Romana, Maryam/Mary, Nuh/Noah, etc.

Name use by animals

The use of personal names is not unique to humans. Dolphins [13] and green-rumped parrotlets [14] also use symbolic names to address contact calls to specific individuals. Individual dolphins have distinctive signature whistles, to which they will respond even when there is no other information to clarify which dolphin is being referred to.

See also

Related Research Articles

Surname conventions and laws vary around the world. This article gives an overview of surnames around the world.

Noun Part of speech

A noun is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas. However, noun is not a semantic category, so it cannot be characterized in terms of its meaning. Thus, actions and states of existence can also be expressed by verbs, qualities by adjectives, and places by adverbs. Linguistically, a noun is a member of a large, open part of speech whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.

Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans and other peoples of Italy employed a system of nomenclature that differed from that used by other cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, consisting of a combination of personal and family names. Although conventionally referred to as the tria nomina, the combination of praenomen, nomen, and cognomen that have come to be regarded as the basic elements of the Roman name in fact represent a continuous process of development, from at least the seventh century BC to the end of the seventh century AD. The names that developed as part of this system became a defining characteristic of Roman civilization, and although the system itself vanished during the Early Middle Ages, the names themselves exerted a profound influence on the development of European naming practices, and many continue to survive in modern languages.

A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name based on the given name of one's father, grandfather (avonymic), or an earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. A name based on the name of one's child is a teknonymic or paedonymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.

Surname Part of a naming scheme for individuals, used in many cultures worldwide

In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community.

Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An orthonym is the proper name of the object in question, the object of onomastic study.

Korean name Naming customs of Korean culture

A Korean name consists of a family name followed by a given name, as used by the Korean people in both South Korea and North Korea. In the Korean language, ireumadelia or seongmyeong usually refers to the family name (seong) and given name together.

Chinese personal names are names used by those from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world such as Singapore. Due to China's historical dominance in East Asia and Vietnam, many names used in Korea and Vietnam are adaptations of Chinese names or have historical roots in Chinese, with appropriate adaptation to accommodate linguistic differences.

Arabic names have historically been based on a long naming system. Most Arabs have not had given/middle/family names but rather a chain of names. This system remains in use throughout the Arab world.

Personal name Set of names by which an individual is known

A personal name, or full name, in onomastic terminology also known as prosoponym, is the set of names by which an individual person is known, and that can be recited as a word-group, with the understanding that, taken together, they all relate to that one individual. In many cultures, the term is synonymous with the birth name or legal name of the individual. In linguistic classification, personal names are studied within a specific onomastic discipline, called anthroponymy.

Given name Name typically used to differentiate people from the same family, clan, or other social group who have a common last name

A given name is the part of a personal name that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group who have a common surname. The term given name refers to a name bestowed at or close to the time of birth, usually by the parents of the newborn. A Christian name is the first name which is given at baptism, in Christian custom.

The suffix -onym is a bound morpheme, that is attached to the end of a root word, thus forming a new compound word that designates a particular class of names. In linguistic terminology, compound words that are formed with suffix -onym are most commonly used as designations for various onomastic classes. Most onomastic terms that are formed with suffix -onym are classical compounds, whose word roots are taken from classical languages.

Middle name Additional given name

In several cultures, a middle name is a portion of a personal name that is written between the person's first given name and their surname.

Nomenclature is a system of names or terms, or the rules for forming these terms in a particular field of arts or sciences. The principles of naming vary from the relatively informal conventions of everyday speech to the internationally agreed principles, rules and recommendations that govern the formation and use of the specialist terms used in scientific and any other disciplines.

An epithet is a word or phrase, accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.

A matronymic is a personal name based on the given name of one's mother, grandmother, or any female ancestor. It is the female equivalent of a patronymic. Around the world, matronymic surnames are far less common than patronymic surnames. In some cultures in the past, matronymic last names were often given to children of unwed mothers. Or if a woman was especially well known or powerful, her descendants might adopt a matronym based on her name. A matronymic is a derived name, as compared to a matriname, which is an inherited name from a mother's side of the family, and which is unchanged.

Indonesian names and naming customs reflect the multicultural and polyglot nature of the over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The world's fourth most populous nation, Indonesia is home to approximately 365 ethnic groups, each with their own culture, customs, and language. The state officially recognises more than 300 of these ethnic groups. The Javanese are the largest single group, comprising around 40 percent of Indonesia's population.

Anthroponymy is the study of anthroponyms, the proper names of human beings, both individual and collective. Anthroponymy is a branch of onomastics.

Mononymous person Individual who is known and addressed by a single name

A mononymous person is an individual who is known and addressed by a single name, or mononym. In some cases, that name has been selected by the individual, who may have originally been given a polynym. In other cases, it has been determined by the custom of the country or by some interested segment. In the case of historical figures, it may be the only one of the individual's names that has survived and is still known today.

The study of ancient Greek personal names is a branch of onomastics, the study of names, and more specifically of anthroponomastics, the study of names of persons. There are hundreds of thousands and even millions of Greek names on record, making them an important resource for any general study of naming, as well as for the study of ancient Greece itself. The names are found in literary texts, on coins and stamped amphora handles, on potsherds used in ostracisms, and, much more abundantly, in inscriptions and on papyri. This article will concentrate on Greek naming from the 8th century BC, when the evidence begins, to the end of the 6th century AD.


  1. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2008-09-20.; The asterisk before a word indicates that it is a hypothetical construction, not an attested form.
  2. "personal name". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. 1 2 "General words for names, and types of name". Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  4. 1 2 Fabry, Merrill (August 16, 2016). "Now You Know: Why Do We Have Middle Names?" (web article). Time. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  5. Room 1996, p. 6.
  6. Barolini 2005, p. 91, 98.
  7. "Egyptian Religion", E. A. Wallis Budge", Arkana 1987 edition, ISBN   0-14-019017-1
  8. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 881: "The episcopal college and its head, the Pope" Archived 2010-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
  9. The Routledge Companion to the Christian Church by Gerard Mannion and Lewis S. Mudge (Jan 30, 2008) ISBN   0415374200 page 235
  10. Baruch Hochman, Character in Literature (Cornell University Press, 1985), 37.
  11. Campbell, Mike. "Meaning, origin and history of the name Solomon". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  12. "Solomon, the King". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  13. "Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says". National Geographic News. May 8, 2006. Archived from the original on November 14, 2006.
  14. Berg, Karl S.; Delgado, Soraya; Okawa, Rae; Beissinger, Steven R.; Bradbury, Jack W. (2011-01-01). "Contact calls are used for individual mate recognition in free-ranging green-rumped parrotlets, Forpus passerinus". Animal Behaviour. 81 (1): 241–248. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.10.012. ISSN   0003-3472.


Further reading