There is some idiom that starts out like, "I'm going to start taking names and..." I can't remember the rest of it. What is it and when is it used?
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Are you perhaps referring to this?
You most likely mean "kicking ass and taking names", which means having multiple victories over a number of opponents in quick succession, with a pace showing that this feat is not over yet. "kicking ass" means completely conquering an opponent, usually to a humiliating level, basically "kicking their ass". On the other hand, "taking names" refers to marking a number of individuals which have not been beaten yet, to be beaten later. It derives from the mafia, as taking names of future victims helps in finding moroe information andkeeping track of them. If that's not exactly what you were searching for, a deviation is "kicking ass in the morning and taking names in the evening".
Kicking posteriors and taking names
The expression "kicking butt/ass and taking names" may go back as far as World War II, although the earliest cited source in J.E. Lighter, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1997) is from 1962. Here is the relevant part of Lighter's entry:
The two earliest citations in Lighter are
Somewhat surprisingly, Google Books search results don't record a match for any version of this phrase until 1975 and 1976, when two instances occur. From U.S. Department of the Army, Soldiers, volume 30 (1975) [combined snippets]:
And from U.S. Federal Railroad Administration, Proceedings of the 1976 Conference: Employee Assistance Programs: An Alternative to Tragedy
So it seems that "kick ass and take names originated in U.S. military slang, either in World War II or within 17 years after it, and that it became standard lingo during the Vietnam War and spread into civilian culture from there.
Taking names and numbers [or addresses]
A different wording that the OP may have had in mind is the phrase "taking names and numbers [or addresses]." This phrase goes back much farther than does "kicking ass and taking names"—but it has a fairly literal meaning, and I'm not at all sure that it qualifies as an idiom rather than as a common or set phrase. The two earliest matches that a Google Books search produces for this phrase are from 1879 and 1880. From Deposition of J. M. Freeman, jr. (February 14, 1879) in Papers in the Case of Mackey vs. O'Connor (May 7, 1880):
And from debates of the Constitution Act Alteration Bill, in [Australian] Parliamentary Debates, Session 1880 (June 3, 1880):
The liveliest idiomatic expression involving "taking names" that I'm aware of is "kicking ass and taking names," an expression that may have originated in the 1940s and certainly existed by 1962. In military use the sense of the phrase is that soldiers subjected to such treatment are punished first by being manhandled in the traditional Sergeant Snorkel vs. Beetle Bailey manner and second by being written up for formal demerits in a report that goes up the chain of command.
A different "taking names" wording that is sometimes heard is "taking names and numbers [or addresses]." It is a fairly straightforward set phrase that means simply "obtaining contact information—that is, names and addresses—from people for some record-keeping purpose."
This is a military term, specifically Navy, and the exact unit is the Navy military police, or Shore Patrol.
Origin was based on shore-leave: it is the job of the SP to patrol and manage crimes and other behavioral problems of Naval personnel, preferably before they happen-- but to deal with them effectively when they do happen.
After a fight, the SP will sequester the "ringleaders" and confiscate their ID cards long enough to make official note of who they are.
Taking names during the US/VietNam war era, came to have a specific meaning for the soldiers who fought there. It referred to the idea that they beat an enemy so bad that they would have to remove the enemies' names from their troop roster. So Kicking Butt and Taking Names meant that they hit an enemy unit so bad they were essentially making it combat ineffective.
I young southern Black girl school named Sarah in the 50's was in charge of writing names of classmates that misbehaved in class when the teacher left the class. A boy student was mad and decided to pick a fight with the young Sarah after school. Sarah was a rough and tumble country girl with 5 older brothers. After She beat the young boy pretty good. Her classmates yelled "Sarah is kicking ass and taking names". This phase spread throughout the south and became a phase that was associated with winning in a fight or anything competitive.