A name is a label to things, people, places, brand names and even ideas or concepts, originally in order to distinguish one another. Names may identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. It is also called a proper noun.

A human name is an anthroponym; a toponym is a place name; hydronym is a name of a body of water; an ethnonym is name of an ethnic group. For more, see a listof -onym words.

In addition to its original purpose of distinguishing, names have also came to have additional or pure honorary and memorial values. For example, the posthumous names' primary function is commemorative.

Naming is the process of assigning a particular word or phrase to a pattern that has been noticed. 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.

Either as a part of the naming process or later as usage is observed and studied by lexicographers the word may be defined by a description of the pattern it refers to.

There are millions of possible objects that can be described in science, too many to create common names for every one. As a response, a number of systems of systematic names have been created. An example of a systematic naming scheme is Linnaean taxonomy, which uses Latin names for plants and animals.

Table of contents
1 Names of persons
2 Non-human Creature Names
3 External Link

Names of persons

It is universal for a person to have a name; the rare exceptions occur in the cases of mentally disturbed parents, or wild children growing up in isolation. A personal name is usually given at birth or a young age, and usually kept throughout life; there may also be additional names indicating family relationships, location, etc. The details of naming are strongly governed by culture; some are more flexible about naming than others, but for all cultures where historical records are available, the rules are known to change over time.

In contemporary Western society, with the exception of Iceland, the most common naming convention is that of a given name, usually indicating the child's sex, followed by the parents' family name. Depending on national convention, additional given names and titles are considered part of the name.

The following cultures' naming systems have been documented in this encyclopedia:

Common components of true names given at birth include:

  • Given name: universal. In most of Western culture, the given name precedes the family name; other cultures place it after the family name, or use no family name.
  • Patronymic: the given name of a relative, usually the father or mother, or a name derived from this. Many family names are derived from patronymics.
  • Family name-compulsory in the West, at least for past 300 years or so. Before that people were called (Given name) of (place of birth).
  • Middle name: least common

Some people (called anonyms) choose to be anonymous, that is, to hide their true names, for fear of governmental prosecution or societal ridicule of their works or actions. Another method to disguise one's identity is to employ pseudonyms.

The Inuits believe that the souls of the namesakes are one, so they traditionally refer to the junior namesakes, not just by the names (atiq), but also by kinship title, which applies across gender and generation without implications of disrespect or seniority.

Non-human Creature Names

Apart from the Linnaean taxonomy, some individual non-human animals and plants are given names, usually of endearment.

In some cultures, pets or sporting animals are sometimes given names similar to human names. Other cultures, such as the Chinese, give the animals non-human names, because it would be offensive and disrespective to the person by the same name; even the cultures that give human names to animals sometimes do so to an ugly animal in order to insult the bearer of the name. For examples of non-humannames,

  • An emperor during the Three Kingdoms period, Liu Bei's horse was called "Dilu" (的盧), meaning "Truely Dark", which may be metaphorically named for the ill fate it supposedly brought it previous owners.
  • And Liu Bei's general, Guan Yu's horse was "Chi Tu" (赤兔), meaning "Red Hare", reflecting on the amazing speed of the horse.

In bonsai, some plants are given adjectival names, such as "The Cloud of Joyful Memories".

External Link

See also: Identifier, List of adjectival forms of place names, List of personal naming conventions, Most popular names, Names given to the divine, Number names, Placename etymology, Systematic names, Unique identifiers


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