Let's say you're talking to Sarah and you make her upset so you say to her

  • "I would hate to make Sarah upset."

Is there a term for using 'Sarah' instead of the usual 'you' here?

  • 8
    You're talking to Sarah! I don't know why you would do this, but it doesn't have a name other than 'addressing her in the third person'. Jun 10, 2022 at 7:36
  • For faux formality and distancing: Mommy will not like this. It's also patronizing - As a three-year-old, you can understand me only if I prepare your mind for thinking about your mother as you do, third person. Jun 10, 2022 at 12:31
  • 2
    It can be patronising, but the third person is also sometimes used to address royalty. So the only thing that's certain is that it's not used in normal situations.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 10, 2022 at 12:48
  • And there’s Bob Dole…
    – Jim
    Jun 10, 2022 at 14:17
  • 1
    It's often used when mocking someone. If Sarah is complaining to you and you think she's going overboard, you might say "I would hate to make Sarah upset" with a sarcastic tone of voice. I'm also not aware of a specific term for it.
    – Barmar
    Jun 14, 2022 at 1:00

1 Answer 1


The verb would be "naming" (Merriam-Webster):

  • 2a. To mention or identify by name ("refused to name a suspect")
  • 2b. To accuse by name

"'I would hate to inconvenience the world-renowned pianist Sarah Smith,' I said to Sarah, rolling my eyes. She didn't get it, though: she thought my naming her was a sincere compliment."

  • 2
    It's not specific enough to be clear in most contexts. You can "name" someone just as easily when they're not in your presence.
    – Laurel
    Mar 1 at 22:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.