Topics related to given names, surnames, and linguistic aspects of naming in English.

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Different pronunciation between Thomas and Theodore

Disclaimer: I'm no native speaker. Thomas gets pronounced with a starting "T" (the "h" is silent), while Theodore with a "Th". What rule is followed here?
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Is using the last name of a person without a title an accepted way of addressing?

I always heard people use Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms before people's names and that is how, I thought, it was done until I watched one of those Harry Potter films in which Malfoy (Sr) addresses Albus Dumbledore ...
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605 views

What word describes languages that are written left-to-right, top-to-bottom?

I am trying to describe the set of languages that, like English, are written left to right, and was trying "romanized", but "romanized" describes transliteration to a different set of characters, such ...
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What is the term for a person with same first and last name?

What is it called when a person has the exact same first and last name (and same spelling), whether named by parents or as a result of marriage? For example, Thomas Thomas.
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Origin & history of name “she oak” or “sheoak” (a Casuarina tree)

In wikipedia's Casuarinaceae article (and somewhat similarly in its Casuarina article), one finds: The most widely used common name for Casuarinaceae species is sheoak or she-oak (a comparison of ...
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What could the word “thumbtick” mean?

I am trying to give a piece of software a name but for non-native English speakers it's sometimes hard to avoid awkward associations with names because you don't live with the language. Sometimes word ...
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1answer
349 views

Was Christian a proper name before Pilgrim's Progress?

I was going to ask this on Christianity.SE but it's not really a Christian Doctrine question; hope it fits here. I was reading John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress where almost everyone is named for a ...
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When does the name prefix “Mc” take stress?

Mc (or Mac) is often used as a prefix in Gaelic-derived names. In one class containing most such names, prefixing Mc does not affect the position of the accent somewhere on the base name. Thus Mc is ...
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Why is Greece not called in English by the name Hellas? [duplicate]

The Greeks call their country Hellas and themselves Hellenes. The names Greece and Greek are of Roman origin and were adopted from Latin Graecus into old High German as Crêch and then in all ...
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How to pronounce Louis Armstrong

I think the standard Irish/British pronunciation is as in Louis the king. But musicians seem to say "Lewis". I've heard people say Joe Louis as in the king as well. Is this wrong?
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Is Father Christmas unwelcome in the United States?

Is the name Father Christmas used in the US or is it mainly Santa Claus (and Santa)? Does Father Christmas sound unusual or out of place if it was used in the US? Would it be laughed at? As an aside,...
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Indefinite article and people's names

Sometimes, on the internet, particularly in online games, I see people using the indefinite article before someone's name: "I see a Joey" or "I hug a Polly". I know some of these people and I'm ...
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Do these river names mean anything?

I was planning a little trip the other day when I noticed that a number of rivers in Britain have common names. The ones I spotted were Avon, Ouse and Esk. Is there a reason for this? Are these names ...
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Why is the letter J so common in names of people who go by their initials? [closed]

I've met a number of people who use their initials as a name. Almost all of the ones I've met have a "J" as one of the initials. I've asked a few friends, and so far, anecdotally, it seems that this ...
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How to pronounce New Orleans

I presume this must be an exception to "pronounce it like the locals", since what I hear is something like 'Norlin'. Or is this just the movies? Is it a mistake to attempt to pronounce it like a ...
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299 views

Club's entry - “chain”

What is the name of the "chain" that can be found near club's entry? e.g. http://www.vegasvipservices.com/nightclubs/bank/club-the-bank-entrance.jpg
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Is there a schwa in the middle of Coleridge?

How many syllables are in the name Coleridge - two or three? I.e. is it [koʊləɹɪdʒ] or [koʊlɹɪdʒ]?
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Is it proper to use “the” before the name of a government organization? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun Using the definite article with acronyms and initialisms When I listen to major news programs, often ...
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Why names such as Hastings-on-Hudson?

This question is either about etymology or language generally, as names have this feature in other languages too, but I'm just curious how the practice of naming towns in proximity to bodies of water ...
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566 views

Is there a name for adjectives that are based around someone's name?

Some examples would include: Shakespearean Christian Mesmerized Pavlovian Newtonian Boolean Darwinian
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Plant Name Pluralisation

When one looks at any garden, every plant has an official Latin binomial taxonomical name: E.g. A favourite of mine, Allium hollandicum - Persian Onion Now most of those with whom I speak call ...
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Where do we get the word “peanut”?

Alternative names, like groundnut and earthnut, make sense. In German, peanuts are called Erdnüsse, literally, earth nuts. Where did the word "peanut" come from, and how did it become the dominant ...
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What is the origin of using the word “our” preceding a first name when speaking directly to the person so named

In the BBC's Keeping Up Appearences, and Lark Rise to Candleford, "our Rose" and "our Laura" are used in both the third person and second person. The usage seems understandable as a third person ...
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264 views

In a conversation, do native speakers people call each other by name? [closed]

I've noticed a particular behavior in the frequency of mentioning the person's name we're talking with. I'm Italian, in my language we are used to calling each other by our first names during a ...
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Objects with no name, like “the Sun”

This morning I was pondering the things in the English language which have not been given a name, such as 'the Sun' or 'the Moon'. These do not seem to fall into the same category as 'the ground' or '...
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Are all English surnames-made-first-names masculine?

This may not be an English language question, but I've always wondered. In Sweden, it is very unusual to have surnames that can also be used straight up as first names. In fact, I can think of no such ...
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Why is it that John Chrysostom is almost never referred to as “John Golden Mouth” in English?

Why is it that the sainted John Chrysostom (b. 347?, d. 407; Archbishop of Constantinople, 397–407) is almost never referred to as "John Golden Mouth" in English? ("Chrysostom" means "Golden Mouth" in ...
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661 views

What are the holes in ice trays called?

I watched a video where the guy called the holes in ice trays "cuplets". I was sure this wasn't an official word, so I did a thorough Google search for what those were called but I could't find any ...
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Should Philip have P. or Ph. as an initial?

In the context of scientific articles and technical white papers, references to other publications typically include the author’s surname with, depending on the format of the specific publication, ...
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How to write Vietnamese names in English correctly? (“Việt Nam” to “Vietnam” or “Viet Nam”?)

Commonly, in writing, the country name in Vietnamese is Việt Nam, in English is Vietnam; its capital city name in Vietnamese is Hà Nội, in English is Hanoi; its largest city name in Vietnamese is ...
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Abbreviating names that start with a vowel

What are the rules about abbreviating names that start with a vowel? Would abbreviating "Alanis Morissette" to "A. Morissette" be correct or should it be "Al. Morissette"?
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Specific word denoting the name of a person who has no last name

If my name is "John Doe", then: My first name is John My last name is Doe However, if my name was "John", does a specific term exist to denote a name that has no last name? Or is it just "name"?
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Do people's names have meanings in English? [closed]

Do people's names have meanings in English? If so, where can I look up names to find their meanings? If not, where did these names come from originally?
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Why is Dolge not a Christian name?

(Note: This might be better suited for a different stack site, but since literature closed, I thought this was the closest related site). I've recently been re-reading Great Expectations, and, in ...
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Origin of street names ending in “-hurst”

There is a large number of streets in the UK whose names end in -hurst, for example Ravenhurst, Gathurst, Oakhurst, Amhurst, Bonehurst, Eaglehurst, etc. Is there a common meaning for this -hurst ...
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How would a native British speaker say “Betteredge”?

I am reading Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, and a prominent character in the story has the name of Betteredge. My question is (since I like to imagine the dialogue in a British-English book as if ...
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Why do many forms ask for initials instead of full names?

I have seen a lot of forms that ask for the name (first name, middle name, last name) and then initials. Why does anyone want to ask for initials? Isn't initials the first letters of the name? For ...
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How do I pronounce Gaudí, the architect?

How do I pronounce 'Gaudi', in the name of Antoni Gaudí (the architect)?
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Buckley's Chance

In Australian parlance we have the expression "He's got Buckley's chance" or "You've got two chances - Yours and Buckley's". Meaning - he o you have no chance at all. Who was Buckley?
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How are English forms of Irish names used?

I've noticed that many Irish people use both their English and Irish versions of the name. For example, Moya Brennan, born Máire Ní Bhraonáin Can someone tell me what is the official status of ...
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Is it okay to ignore putting periods between initials?

My name is Venkatesh MG. M stands for the name of my birth place, which begins with M, and G is an initial derived from my father's name. Since school, I have been using only these two variations of ...
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Meaning of “cookbook” in title of instructional book

I see many instructional books where the title of the book includes cookbook! What is the meaning of cookbook in this situation? Example: Python Testing Cookbook.
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Opposite of an eponym

What is it called when someone lives up to their name. Their name is Smith and they become one for example.
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Where did the name “English” come from?

How is the name for one's own language created?
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Can last names be shortened just as first names?

I know first names are usually shortened in verbal communication for reasons that I am not clear about. For example, Andrew becomes Andy. But is it also the case for last names? If yes, what is the ...
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What are the pronunciation and etymology of the dog's name “Tige”?

"Tige" was apparently a popular name for American pet dogs even before Buster Brown (1902). I just ran across the same name in chapter 32 of Huckleberry Finn (1884): "Begone you Tige! you Spot! ...
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What is the name for this “…” punctuation? [closed]

When I am writing, and I want to leave something out, so that it gives an implied effect, I use this: ... What is it called?
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The name of my toes [closed]

Ok.. I broke some toes in my foot and I want to tell a friend about it on Facebook. Now, here's the problem. Every foot has 5 toes. Only 3 toes have a name: big toe middle toe small toe What's ...
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Why are names that begin with 'Mc' first in order over names that begin with 'Ma'?

Why are names that begin with 'Mc' first in order over names that begin with 'Ma'? For example, in references sections in books, we see that "McGann, Anthony" is first and "Maddox, Graham" is second.
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First name initial format “A. B. Lastname” vs “A.-B. Lastname”

Sometimes I see names abbreviated sometimes as A. B. Lastname and some other times A.-B. Lastname. Is there a difference? Does the former means it is a middle name, and the latter means it is a part ...