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[neym] /neɪm/
a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known.
mere designation, as distinguished from fact:
He was a king in name only.
an appellation, title, or epithet, applied descriptively, in honor, abuse, etc.
a reputation of a particular kind given by common opinion:
to protect one's good name.
a distinguished, famous, or great reputation; fame:
to make a name for oneself.
a widely known or famous person; celebrity:
She's a name in show business.
an unpleasant or derogatory appellation or expression:
Don't call your brother names! Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
a personal or family name as exercising influence or bringing distinction:
With that name they can get a loan at any bank in town.
a body of persons grouped under one name, as a family or clan.
the verbal or other symbolic representation of a thing, event, property, relation, or concept.
(initial capital letter) a symbol or vehicle of divinity:
to take the Name in vain; the power of the Name.
verb (used with object), named, naming.
to give a name to:
to name a baby.
to accuse:
He was named as the thief.
to call by an epithet:
They named her speedy.
to identify, specify, or mention by name:
Three persons were named in the report.
to designate for some duty or office; nominate or appoint:
I have named you for the position.
to specify; suggest:
Name a price.
to give the name of:
Can you name the capital of Ohio?
to speak of.
British. (in the House of Commons) to cite (a member) for contempt.
famous; widely known:
a name author.
designed for or carrying a name.
giving its name or title to a collection or anthology containing it:
the name piece.
by name,
  1. personally; individually:
    She was always careful to address every employee by name.
  2. not personally; by repute:
    I know him by name only.
call names, to scold or speak abusively of or to a person:
Better not to call names unless one is larger and considerably stronger than one's adversary.
in the name of,
  1. with appeal to:
    In the name of mercy, stop that screaming!
  2. by the authority of:
    Open, in the name of the law!
  3. on behalf of:
    to purchase something in the name of another.
  4. under the name or possession of:
    money deposited in the name of a son.
  5. under the designation or excuse of:
    murder in the name of justice.
name names, to specify people by name, especially those who have been accomplices in a misdeed:
The witness in the bribery investigation threatened to name names.
to one's name, in one's possession:
I haven't a penny to my name.
Origin of name
before 900; Middle English; Old English nama; cognate with German Name, Gothic namô; akin to Old Norse nafn, Latin nōmen, Greek ónoma, Old Irish ainm, Polish imię, Czech jméno
Related forms
namer, noun
rename, verb (used with object), renamed, renaming.
self-named, adjective
undername, noun
undernamed, adjective
well-named, adjective
1. Name, title both refer to the label by which a person is known. Name is the simpler and more general word for appellation: The name is John. A title is an official or honorary term bestowed on a person or the specific designation of a book, article, etc.: He now has the title of Doctor. Treasure Island is the title of a book. 4. repute, character, credit. 5. note, distinction, renown, eminence. 6. personality. 14. nickname, dub, denominate. 16. choose. 17. mention. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for call names
Historical Examples
  • Little boys who call names are wicked boys, and are very false boys too.

    Rattlin the Reefer Edward Howard
  • For one can scold and call names with a much better grace in Latin than in French or any tame modern tongue.

    Dialogues of the Dead Lord Lyttelton
  • But now Marija was able to call names in English, and so she got the woman who made the mistake to disliking her.

    The Jungle Upton Sinclair
  • She knew her mistress was very "particular," and did not allow any one in her house to "call names."

  • Never had Mr. Thorpe, on any former occasion, been known to call names, or bang doors.

    Hide and Seek Wilkie Collins
  • You said to me once yourself that it's only rude children that call names; and I'm sure Curdie wouldn't be rude.

    The Princess and the Goblin George MacDonald
  • It was not at all painful, but extremely funny, to hear Gid call names, for he never did it in a provoking way at all.

    Little Grandfather Sophie May
  • But I think you might have asked me in a nicer way, and not call names, and smash things all about!

    Marjorie at Seacote Carolyn Wells
  • The more young and inexperienced he used to teach to talk saucily, and call names.

    The History of John Bull John Arbuthnot
  • It would be invidious to call names or describe individual cases, and could answer no necessary purpose.

British Dictionary definitions for call names


a word or term by which a person or thing is commonly and distinctively known related adjective nominal
mere outward appearance or form as opposed to fact (esp in the phrase in name): he was a ruler in name only
a word, title, or phrase descriptive of character, usually abusive or derogatory: to call a person names
reputation, esp, if unspecified, good reputation: he's made quite a name for himself
  1. a famous person or thing: a name in the advertising world
  2. (mainly US & Canadian) (as modifier): a name product
a member of Lloyd's who provides part of the capital of a syndicate and shares in its profits or losses but does not arrange its business
in the name of, under the name of, using as a name
in the name of
  1. for the sake of
  2. by the sanction or authority of
know by name, to have heard of without having met
name of the game
  1. anything that is essential, significant, or important
  2. expected or normal conditions, circumstances, etc: in gambling, losing money's the name of the game
to one's name, belonging to one: I haven't a penny to my name
verb (transitive)
to give a name to; call by a name: she named the child Edward
to refer to by name; cite: he named three French poets
to determine, fix, or specify: they have named a date for the meeting
to appoint to or cite for a particular title, honour, or duty; nominate: he was named Journalist of the Year
to ban (an MP) from the House of Commons by mentioning him formally by name as being guilty of disorderly conduct
name and shame, to reveal the identity of a person or organization guilty of illegal or unacceptable behaviour in order to embarrass them into not repeating the offence
name names, to cite people, esp in order to blame or accuse them
name the day, to choose the day for one's wedding
you name it, whatever you need, mention, etc
Derived Forms
namable, nameable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English nama, related to Latin nomen, Greek noma, Old High German namo, German Namen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for call names



Old English nama, noma "name, reputation," from Proto-Germanic *namon (cf. Old Saxon namo, Old Frisian nama, Old High German namo, German Name, Middle Dutch name, Dutch naam, Old Norse nafn, Gothic namo "name"), from PIE *nomn- (cf. Sanskrit nama; Avestan nama; Greek onoma, onyma; Latin nomen; Old Church Slavonic ime, genitive imene; Russian imya; Old Irish ainm; Old Welsh anu "name").

Meaning "famous person" is from 1610s. Meaning "one's reputation" is from c.1300. As a modifier meaning "well-known," first attested 1938. Name brand is from 1944; name-calling attested from 1846; name-dropper first recorded 1947. name-tag is from 1903; name-child attested from 1845. The name of the game "the essential thing or quality" is from 1966; to have one's name in lights "be a famous performer" is from 1929.

He who once a good name gets,
May piss a bed, and say he sweats.

["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]


Old English namian "to name, call; nominate, appoint," from source of name (n.). Related: Named; naming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for call names



Being well known or prestigious: a name band/ name brand (1938+)


A very important person, esp in entertainment; headliner: I saw three or four names there/ He's a name in the carpet business (1611+)

Related Terms

big name, what's-his-name, you name it

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for call names


National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with call names

call names

Verbally abuse someone, use offensive epithets, as in The teacher told the children to stop calling names. This idiom was first recorded in the late 1600s but Shakespeare used a similar expression earlier in Richard III (1:3): “That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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