When you started learning English, the phrases “What’s your name?” and “My name is…” were probably among the first things you learned. Here are 25 more English expressions using the word “name”!
Your full name is your complete name. It might include a first name, middle name, and last name.
Your last name can also be called your surname or family name. Depending on your culture, it may include several names and not be just one word.
When a woman gets married, she sometimes changes her name. Her name before marriage is called her maiden name, and her name after marriage is called her married name. Some women choose to keep both family names and hyphenate their last name.
If you were named in honor of somebody, then we say that you were named after that person. For example, if my name is Rose and my great-grandmother’s name was Rose, then I was named after my great-grandmother.
Objects can also be named after people – a city can be named after a famous historical person, for example.
If people often call you by a different name than your official name, the different name is called a nickname. Sometimes a nickname is just a shortened or altered version of your official name, and sometimes it is completely different:
- Becky is a common nickname for Rebecca
- Rich is a common nickname for Richard
- A nickname can refer to an aspect of someone’s appearance, personality, etc. – a left-handed person being known by friends as “Lefty,” for example. These very informal nicknames should usually only be used among friends.
Sometimes people are known by a pseudonym – a name that is different from their legal name (official name). There are many reasons to use a pseudonym, sometimes because the person’s real name is difficult to pronounce, or because they would prefer to keep some privacy about their personal information.
- For writers who use a professional name, it is called their pen name.
- For actors, entertainers, performers, and musicians, it is called their stage name.
- For all other professions, a person’s pseudonym can be called their professional name.
The word alias also describes an alternative name – but this word is usually used when criminals assume a false name in order to deceive people.
Finally, in situations where it is necessary to keep the name of someone or something secret, a code name is used. For example, in the James Bond series of movies, his code name is his agent number: 007. Code names can also be used for places or particular projects.
More English Expressions with “Name”
- “I didn’t catch your name.”
= I didn’t hear/understand your name; could you please tell me again?
- “I’m terrible with names.”
= I have difficulty remembering people’s names.
- “Does the name __________ mean anything to you?”
= Do you recognize the name _________?
- “Yes, that name rings a bell” / “No, it doesn’t ring a bell”
= I recognize the name; I know it from somewhere / No, it doesn’t sound familiar
“Name” meaning reputation
We also have some expressions in which the word “name” refers to your reputation – the general opinion that other people have of you.
If a person or company is trying to protect their good name, it means they are trying to preserve their good reputation.
To give someone/something a bad name means to cause people to lose respect for that person/thing.
If you make a name for yourself, it means you become well-known for your work or activity.
A household name is a person or company that is very well-known by a lot of people.
Someone who is a big name is one of the leaders or famous people in their field.
To drag someone’s name through the mud means to say bad things about them so that other people will have a bad opinion of them.
Idiomatic Expressions with “Name”
To call someone names means to call someone by a rude or offensive name to insult the person (like kids calling an overweight child “Fatty”).
If you are suspected of or accused of a crime, but you prove yourself innocent, you clear your name.
Someone who drops names likes to mention the names of famous people who they are somehow connected with – in order to make themselves appear important.
Saying something has your name on it means it is something you like/enjoy very much and you must get it. For example, if there is one piece of pizza remaining and you tell your husband, who loves pizza, “that last piece of pizza has your name on it.”
If someone doesn’t want to name names, it means they don’t want to reveal the names of people who are involved in something bad or illegal. For example, “I don’t want to name names, but a few of my former coworkers used to steal from the company.”
The expression you name it means “anything you want or can imagine.” For example, “The bakery sells bread, muffins, cakes, cupcakes, crackers, cookies – you name it.”
Image source: Yoninah