Suppose something unknown is in a black box (upd. I mean a simple box, imagine some kind of TV show, where someone has to guess what is inside that box). I give a description of this thing and then ask listeners: "Can you name/call it?".

I understand that I can use both words, but I don't understand if is there any difference between the two.

  • You'd actually probably say "can you identify it?" or "can you tell me what it is?".
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 19:23
  • Thanks. Yes, right. "Black box" - is a bad context. I don't want to create new question so ask you: We have a picture of a table and one asks other: "A:What is it? Name/call it." "B: This is a table" "A:What is the name of the table?" "B: It's Verona". Name or call? Are both correct? Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 19:42
  • We named him Anderson Jeremiah, but we call him AJ.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 15:20
  • There actually was this kind of TV show: it was called "Name That Tune". Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


A black box isn't simply something that's unknown. It's something that has internal workings that cannot be examined. A black box is known only from its response to inputs.

Be aware that the term has several other meanings:

  • The automatic data recorder, particularly in aircraft, that stores information about the operation of equipment. Named for the original color, these devices for commercial aircraft are now bright orange to make them easy to spot.
  • a minimalist theater space, essentially a large, unadorned rectangular room with black walls
  • the strongest warning that the US Food and Drug Administration can require to appear on the packaging of drugs. The text of the warning appears in a rectangular area with a black border.
  • 1
    Sorry, I didn't write it correctly. I've updated my question. I meant "a simple box with unknown thing inside" Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 8:27

The verb to name means to put a name on; either bestowing a new name on something that was previously unnamed or identifying something by claiming that it has a particular already known identity.

The verb to call (in this context) means to use a particular term to denote something/someone or address someone (at a given time or habitually).

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