Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Over on Stackoverflow, I keep seeing questions wherein posters say:

*I have an item named SoAndSo (a table, a file, etc.).

Shouldn't it be:

*I have an item called SoAndSo.

Is "named" an acceptable word in this context? Are those words specific to a particular English speakers, e.g. UK vs. USA vs. Australia, etc.?

share|improve this question
    
You really should ask but one question at a time, not two as you have done here. The second one is answered here. –  tchrist Dec 14 '13 at 19:33
    
@tchrist: thanks for that link –  marc_s Dec 14 '13 at 19:57
1  
"My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip." Charles Dickens –  medica Dec 14 '13 at 22:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the name of the item is indeed SoAndSo, then it is reasonable and correct to refer to it as an “item named SoAndSo”. If in addition to being named SoAndSo it usually is called SoAndSo, it still is ok to refer to it as an item named SoAndSo (and also would be ok to refer to it as an item called SoAndSo).

But if, although usually called SoAndSo, it actually has some name other than that, then it would be incorrect to refer to it as an “item named SoAndSo”.

Some further examples appear in answers to “Don’t know what the name is” vs. “Don’t know what it’s called”.

share|improve this answer
1  
This sounds very strange, as though they were proper nouns. One doesn’t have a table named “So and so”, nor a door, nor a stone or stump. Maybe a cat or a rat or a unicorn, or even a peasant, but we don’t normally name common nouns. –  tchrist Dec 14 '13 at 20:49
    
@tchrist, throughout history many tables, doors, stones, and stumps have been specifically named. –  jwpat7 Dec 14 '13 at 20:56
1  
@tchrist: It's especially common to have names for things in computing. Especially since calling something is very different than naming something. (I'm thinking particularly of functions, but in many other cases as well, it's actually more natural to say that an item is named whatever.) –  John Y Dec 14 '13 at 21:23
    
@tchrist I presume in this case, table is 'database table', which would indeed have a name. –  anotherdave Dec 14 '13 at 21:36

Using the word named in that context, sounds very formal. Here in the UK, people usually use the word called.

share|improve this answer

You should definitely use named to describe a table, function or any other software construct, especially if it is in a written context. It isn't a matter of formality, but more like notation in math, where you say a "variable named X".

If describing an alias, one might be more likely to use called.

Here's an explanation that is specific to programming, emphasis mine:

A variable is a symbolic name for (or reference to) information. The variable's name represents what information the variable contains. They are called variables because the represented information can change but the operations on the variable remain the same... This is similar to mathematics...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.