in the name of


  1. 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.
  2. mere designation, as distinguished from fact: He was a king in name only.
  3. an appellation, title, or epithet, applied descriptively, in honor, abuse, etc.
  4. a reputation of a particular kind given by common opinion: to protect one’s good name.
  5. a distinguished, famous, or great reputation; fame: to make a name for oneself.
  6. a widely known or famous person; celebrity: She’s a name in show business.
  7. 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.
  8. a personal or family name as exercising influence or bringing distinction: With that name they can get a loan at any bank in town.
  9. a body of persons grouped under one name, as a family or clan.
  10. the verbal or other symbolic representation of a thing, event, property, relation, or concept.
  11. (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, nam·ing.

  1. to give a name to: to name a baby.
  2. to accuse: He was named as the thief.
  3. to call by an epithet: They named her speedy.
  4. to identify, specify, or mention by name: Three persons were named in the report.
  5. to designate for some duty or office; nominate or appoint: I have named you for the position.
  6. to specify; suggest: Name a price.
  7. to give the name of: Can you name the capital of Ohio?
  8. to speak of.
  9. British. (in the House of Commons) to cite (a member) for contempt.


  1. famous; widely known: a name author.
  2. designed for or carrying a name.
  3. giving its name or title to a collection or anthology containing it: the name piece.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. to one’s name, in one’s possession: I haven’t a penny to my name.


  1. a word or term by which a person or thing is commonly and distinctively knownRelated adjective: nominal
  2. mere outward appearance or form as opposed to fact (esp in the phrase in name)he was a ruler in name only
  3. a word, title, or phrase descriptive of character, usually abusive or derogatoryto call a person names
  4. reputation, esp, if unspecified, good reputationhe’s made quite a name for himself
    1. a famous person or thinga name in the advertising world
    2. mainly US and Canadian(as modifier)a name product
  5. 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
  6. in the name of or under the name of using as a name
  7. in the name of
    1. for the sake of
    2. by the sanction or authority of
  8. know by name to have heard of without having met
  9. name of the game
    1. anything that is essential, significant, or important
    2. expected or normal conditions, circumstances, etcin gambling, losing money’s the name of the game
  10. to one’s name belonging to oneI haven’t a penny to my name

verb (tr)

  1. to give a name to; call by a nameshe named the child Edward
  2. to refer to by name; citehe named three French poets
  3. to determine, fix, or specifythey have named a date for the meeting
  4. to appoint to or cite for a particular title, honour, or duty; nominatehe was named Journalist of the Year
  5. to ban (an MP) from the House of Commons by mentioning him formally by name as being guilty of disorderly conduct
  6. 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
  7. name names to cite people, esp in order to blame or accuse them
  8. name the day to choose the day for one’s wedding
  9. you name it whatever you need, mention, etc

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.


By the authority of, as in Open up, in the name of the law! [Late 1300s]


On behalf of, as in She made a donation in her daughter’s name. [Late 1300s]


in God’s or heaven’s name; in the name of God or heaven. With appeal to, as in In the name of God, stop that noise! or What in heaven’s name are you doing? [c. a.d. 900]


Under the designation of, as in They burned witches at the stake in the name of piety. [Late 1300s]


Under the possession or ownership of, as in The certificate of ownership was rightfully in my name. [Mid-1900s]


in one’s own name. On one’s own behalf, as in Mary signed the check for John in her own name. [Late 1800s]

In addition to the idioms beginning with name

  • name after
  • name is mud, one’s
  • name names
  • name of the game, the
  • name the day

also see:

  • call names
  • clear one’s name
  • drop names
  • give a bad name
  • go by (the name of)
  • handle to one’s name
  • in name only
  • in the name of
  • make a name for oneself
  • on a first-name basis
  • take someone’s name in vain
  • to one’s name
  • worthy of the name
  • you name it
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