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

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66
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3answers
13k views

Is there a single term for “nieces and nephews”?

I find it handy when talking about my sons and daughters I can just say my children. It's nice to say nieces instead of sibling's daughters. I wonder if there is a similar term for nieces and nephews ...
63
votes
2answers
15k views

Why is Sean pronounced Shawn?

I've always had this question about the pronunciation of Sean. Is Sean a word from another language? Is it actually not pronounced Shawn and instead it's some sound between Shawn and Seen? Also, why ...
24
votes
2answers
61k views

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Many questions already ask about this topic (What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in s? , Adding apostrophe-s to a singular noun already ending in “s”, etc.) and their answers vary, but ...
24
votes
3answers
959 views

Is there a word for refusing to call things by their name out of fear?

Some examples: "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" or "You-Know-Who" for Voldemort of Harry Potter fame Him in the Powerpuff Girls Any of the various monikers for Yahweh possibly "She Who Must Be Obeyed" for ...
23
votes
4answers
4k views

What do you call this mechanical device?

This device usually consists of sequences of different objects, one triggering the action of the next. For example, several domino tiles placed upright. The first one falls and that makes all the ...
23
votes
4answers
32k views

Changes in English names of people

Why is Robert called Bob and John called Jack sometimes? What is the history of or reason for this practice in changing the English names of people?
22
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2answers
4k views

Meaning of suffix '-sex' in 'Sussex, Middlesex' [closed]

I know that Sussex and Middlesex are in England. It looks to me as if there is a pattern in names. What does the suffix -sex mean? Where does it come from?
21
votes
7answers
2k views

Why “Greater Toronto” rather than “Great Toronto”

Many big cities have their names preceded by Greater. Why not just Great? Does Greater indicate that the city is ambitious to expand itself? Why is Greater not used for country names such as Great ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is Lord Alfred Tennyson often written as Alfred Lord Tennyson?

Why is Lord Alfred Tennyson often written as Alfred Lord Tennyson? This occurs with and without a comma after Alfred: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Should Lord precede the entire ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there an accepted rule for naming all of our various distant relatives (Kinship Terms)?

I’m going to the christening of my Cousin’s first son soon. What is the proper name for his relation to me? 2nd Nephew? Nephew once removed? Nothing? Looking at the overall picture, whats the ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is there a “riding” in “Little Red Riding Hood”?

I get the little, the red and the hood... but how does the riding fit in there?
19
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3answers
3k views

Why do so many newspapers use the word “Times” in their names?

It seems that the word itself doesn't mean news or newspapers, but many newspapers use it in their names. Is there a historic reason?
18
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13answers
3k views

A word that describes something that has been given a name

Is there a word besides named that describes something that has been given a proper name? For example, a guitar is just a guitar, but if I call it, say, Shirley, is there another word that would now ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

If Christopher is a “carrier of Christ” then what is Jennifer carrying?

I was told in a Latin class that the name Christopher has Greek roots that mean "one who carries Christ". I assume that the Latin connection here is fero, which is the verb to carry. With that in ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Surely *some* wordsmiths must love America[ns]?

People who like/admire English or French (the languages and/or the people and their culture) are easily identified as Anglophiles or Francophiles. I'm not sure there are so many Germanophiles, but ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does the name 'John' have an 'h' in it?

I have always wondered this since I was little, and nobody seems to have asked or answered this before anywhere on the internet. What is the origin of the 'h', and why is it still with us?
16
votes
1answer
315 views

I was raised being called “sister” by my family. What's the background on this usage?

I was called "sister", as a replacement for my name. (Oddly, my brother was not called "brother.") I never questioned this growing up in the 50's in a rural area. It says much about the culture I grew ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Family name pluralization

When pluralizing family (last) names that also happen to be common English words, does the pluralization follow the same rules as the common word? For example, "the Smith family" can be pluralized as ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there an English word for a person who shares your name? [duplicate]

In Sweden, if your name is Sven Andersson and there is a person of interest (for any reason) that has the same name as you, there is a slightly affectionate word you can use where you say that this ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

If we say “Socrates”, “Hippocrates”, etc, why don't we say “Aristoteles”? Why “Aristotle”?

If Σωκράτης is transliterated as "Socrates", and Ἱπποκράτης is transliterated as "Hippocrates", and other Greek names ending with -ης are transliterated as ending with "-es", why isn't Ἀριστοτέλης ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is Ukraine often called “the Ukraine”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using the definite article before a country/state name Hearing the Ukraine used to make me unsure whether Ukraine was really a country. Now though I have realized ...
12
votes
3answers
22k views

Should there be a space between name initials?

In writing authors' initials in research papers (either in the author by-line or the bibliography), should there be a space between intials? R.P. Feynman R. P. Feynman What's the preferred way ...
11
votes
2answers
18k views

What do you call a daughter with the same name as her mother?

What do you call a daughter with the same name as her mother? Is there a female equivalent for 'junior' in the english language?
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Is it true that yeast was once called “Godisgoode”?

In this article discussing beer, it is said that in medieval times yeast (possibly only brewer's yeast) was called godisgoode. Is that the case? (Searching on Google sheds very little light on the ...
11
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3answers
1k views

Term for adjectives attached after names

What is the term for adjectives attached after names? For example, there is terrible in Ivan the Terrible. Are these counted as post-positive adjectives?
10
votes
3answers
933 views

Duane “Dog” Chapman, what is the word for the part in quotes between forename and surname?

Apologies if this has been asked before, I found it quite difficult to phrase what I meant! As the question title states: Duane "Dog" Chapman. What is the correct word to describe the part that is ...
10
votes
4answers
53k views

Where do you put the suffix when listing the last name first?

When listing names with the last name first, where should you put the suffix if there is one present? For example, if given the name John Doe Jr., which of the following would be correct? Doe, John ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the origin of surnames based on color?

I understand the background of names such as Baker, Carver and Hammer but, what are the origins of names such as Black, Blue, Brown, Green and White? Are they based on some common structure or do they ...
9
votes
3answers
504 views

Why one place on stack exchange is called “area51”?

Why this place on stack exchange is called "area51"? Is it a special idiom in English for some places where things are being developed? Does 51 have some special meaning besides being just a number? ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

What's the meaning of the symbol ‡?

I am trying to get the meaning of the symbol ‡. I saw it a couple of times: as a tattoo in a little boy finger, and on Wikipedia. How is this symbol called in English?
9
votes
4answers
838 views

What will the third parent be called? [closed]

Legislation seems likely to pass, enabling Britain to be the first country to offer 'three-parent births' (two mothers and one father) to overcome genetic defects associated by faults in mitochondria. ...
9
votes
6answers
15k views

How should I greet two people sharing the same first name in an email?

I'm sending an email to two persons with the same first name (Steve) Greeting them by saying "Hi Steve, Steve" seems totally awkward. Is there a good way of writing this, apart from the obvious "Hi" ...
9
votes
1answer
358 views

How to cite an author who spells his name inconsistently

I am writing a paper where I will cite several works by the Hungarian mathematician Gábor Szegő. Note that his surname includes the letter o with a double acute accent, NOT a letter o with umlaut ö. ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “long” mean before a name?

What does long mean before a name? Like Long John Silver in Treasure Island or Long Susan in Ripper Street.
8
votes
6answers
647 views

Catchall term for “Junior”, “Senior”, “the late”, “widow”, and the like?

I'm analyzing a bunch of late 16th century Hungarian names, and I need a word for those extra bits that sometimes get appended to names, like junior, senior, the late and the like. My "working title" ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why Abraham and not Avraham?

In the Hebrew scriptures Abraham's name is Avraham and not Abraham (אַבְרָהָם). Is has a v and not a b. The same goes for Rebecca, who is called Rivka in Hebrew. Both v and b sounds are represented by ...
8
votes
2answers
445 views

Why is the Dostoyevsky novel “The Brothers Karamazov” not translated “The Karamazov Brothers”?

In most cases I would say that the family name should come first, as in "the Ringling Brothers circus" or "the Bronte sisters", but then there is the Dostoyevsky novel "The Brothers Karamazov". Why ...
8
votes
1answer
616 views

What does “week” mean in place names?

I visited darkest Devon recently, and happened to pass through a couple of places named "Week". On studying the map I found several others, such as James Week, Mary Week, Chawleigh Week, and so on. ...
8
votes
1answer
752 views

Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?

While looking at names of American Presidents I noticed that English men’s names almost always stress the first syllable. Barack Obama is unusual in that he’s only the second President (after ...
7
votes
6answers
7k views

keeping maiden name after marriage

If a woman keeps her maiden name what is the proper way to address her? Mrs, Ms, or Miss? I have seen it done multiple ways, but am unsure what is the proper way.
7
votes
8answers
16k views

Why are people from Sunderland called “mackems”?

In the north-east of England, if nowhere else, people from Sunderland are called "mackems". Does anyone know why this should be? Wikipedia suggests a number of possibilities. Are any of these correct? ...
7
votes
4answers
941 views

What is the plural form of trademarked product names, specifically of the term “WordPress”?

On the stackexchange site WordPress Answers, we recently discussed the plural form, or whether one exists at all, of the system we all use. WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a ...
7
votes
3answers
16k views

Why do people pronounce “Naomi” as “Niomi”?

The Wikipedia page for "Naomi (given name)" says "pronounced nay-oh-mee" which is how I pronounce my daughter's name, but quite often people pronounce it "nigh-oh-mee" (that is, with a long "i" ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Pronunciation of names that end in “h”

In Britain (or perhaps just Scotland) the names "Sara" and "Sarah" are pronounced different. Sara: Sah-rah ("a" as in "bat") Sarah: Se-rah ("a" as in "air") In the US and Canada, Sarah ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

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?
7
votes
4answers
5k views

Pluralization of names

If I were to use the sentence "There are lots of John Smiths" in the world, would that be the correct use for saying that there are a lot of people named John Smith in the world? I don't think there ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

When did we start naming our dogs Rover, and why?

One stereotypical name for a dog is Fido, from the Latin for faithful. Another stereotypical dog-name is Rover. How long has Rover been a common name for a dog in English? Does it have anything to ...
7
votes
1answer
7k views

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.
7
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
7
votes
3answers
346 views

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 ...