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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 person (that you often don't know at all) is your namne (namn means name).

Is there a similar word in English, and how does the usage differ, if at all?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, MrHen, choster, Bradd Szonye, David M Mar 28 '14 at 5:20

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  • Technically that's not what I'm looking for. The Swedish word is never used (as far as I know) when you are named after something or someone, only when you share the name. Namesake was the best I could find. – pzkpfw Mar 27 '14 at 13:22
  • Your title reads 'Is there an English word for a person who shares your name?' And the previous article covers all the suggestions repeated below. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 '14 at 13:56
  • Although not frequently used and very casual, if not airheaded, "name-twin" came to mind. At least one other person on the internet has thought of this word: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=name-twin – Brian Rushton Mar 28 '14 at 2:20
  • Namesake is appropriate, as in "this man is my namesake". – E.Groeg Nov 23 '17 at 8:24
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    Thanks @E.Groeg -- my answer below might interest you. Apparently it's not really the case in modern AmE but it has been previously. – pzkpfw Nov 24 '17 at 10:01

This word has an almost identical connotation but seems to have shifted in meaning in modern American usage towards almost requiring that the thing/person in question is named after whatever/whoever is mentioned.


Namesake is a term used to characterize a person, place, thing, quality, action, state, or idea that has the same, or a similar, name to another - especially (but not exclusively) if the person or thing is actually named after, rather than merely sharing the name of another.

For example, if a person, place, or thing has the same name as another - especially if they are named after another person, place, or thing, then the name target is said to be the namesake of the name source. The earliest use reported in the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1635. Dictionaries suggest that the word probably comes from "name's sake", "for one's name('s) sake", for "name sake".

There has been some discrepancy as to whether the name source or the name target takes the term namesake. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a namesake is a person or thing named after another. In other words, the name target takes the term namesake, as in

"I was named after my grandfather. I am his namesake."


"Julian's Castle, Julian's namesake restaurant."

The Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary are not so restrictive. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a namesake is a person or thing having the same name as another. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines "namesake" as "one that has the same name as another; especially one who is named after another or for whom another is named", allowing the usage of:

"I met a person who happened to have the same name as me. We are namesakes."

By "for whom another is named", Merriam-Webster's Dictionary allows the term namesake to be used in reference to the name source as in,

"I was named after my grandfather. He is my namesake."

Both usages of namesake are correct. This ambiguity sometimes may be resolved by the term eponym or "namegiver", which refers to the name source as providing the name to the name receiver.

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    'Eponym' is equally ambiguous: 'An eponym can be either an item which provides a name-source for a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item to be named,[2] or it can also be an item which acts as a name-recipient[2'] Wikipedia – Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 '14 at 12:14
  • You are correct that it is ambiguos, but 'eponym' shares no traits with the Swedish word 'namne'. The Wiktionary definition for 'namne' is simply 'a person that has the same name as someone else'. – pzkpfw Mar 27 '14 at 13:25
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    "Eponym" is not appropriate because it is used strictly to refer to the entity that an inanimate object derives its name from. See, e.g., Wikiepdia's definition: "an eponym can be either an item which provides a name-source for a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item to be named." "Person" is absent from the list and would not be appropriate in this context. – Patrick Collins Mar 27 '14 at 16:02
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    Namesake is correct. – moonstar Mar 27 '14 at 16:48
  • Has English absorbed the word tocayo? – Anna Taurogenireva Mar 28 '14 at 0:07

Homonym, when used to refer to people, has that meaning.

I believe (but lack the reference) that, unlike namesake, it does not carry a meaning of intent. The two people just happen to share the same name, without one being named after the other.

However, in English, this meaning is largely dominated by the linguistics one, to the extent that I could find it in Merriam-Webster's, but not in any other dictionary.

On a side note, the people's names themselves are technically homonyms, as they share the same spelling but refer to different people.


Not English per se, but in New Mexico English-speakers call this a tocayo, nicely unburdened of the debt-to weight of namesake and eponym.


Doppelganger could be applied here. It is usually applied to someone (possibly famous) who looks like you. It really just means a double though, so it could be applied to someone with the same name, especially if it is exactly the same name.

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