In the Star Assessments for early literacy, they refer to something called a "named word" and "unnamed word" without defining what that means.

Examples include:

  • Identify a consonant digraph in a named word
  • Identify a consonant digraph in an unnamed word

Is this a technical term in English that I'm not aware of?

Edit: I found several technical papers using similar terms with this google scholar search: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22unnamed+word%22

but none of them defined what they meant by it.

  • 4
    If I had to guess, I'd say that the "named word" is one the tester chooses and the "unnamed word" is one that the testee gets to choose.
    – user888379
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:10
  • 3
    First, it is not a set phrase in English, it simply in that document what that author means by 'words that have been named' (whatever that means). Second, by looking through the document, in the context of reading, they also have the phrases 'named picture' and 'unnamed picture'. Here I would think it means a picture labeled with/without a name. But that sorta seems to be what a word is. so it is definitely confusing. It might be a setphrase or technical term in literacy?
    – Mitch
    Aug 25, 2022 at 21:02
  • 1
    Those are instructions, so is there an accompanying list of words with those instructions? If so, that'd be an important detail to include in your question as it would very much have a bearing on the answer. Aug 25, 2022 at 21:22
  • 4
    I suspect this is jargon in the literacy education field, so maybe you should ask an elementary school teacher.
    – Barmar
    Aug 25, 2022 at 22:24
  • 1
    I'll try to form an answer if I have the wherewithal to supply research. Meanwhile... A named word digraph question would be something like: Identify the digraph in "sheep." An unnamed word digraph question would be something like: Identify the digraph in [insert picture of a sheep]. I wouldn't call named and unnamed jargon, particularly. They're just adjectives that context would make clear. Sep 8, 2022 at 2:55

2 Answers 2


It appears that, as Barmar said in the comments above, this is in fact jargon in the literacy education field. "Named," in that context, seems to mean that the teacher/researcher/adult says or reads the word or letter aloud to the child. For example, this paper describes a study where students would draw images representing words that were "named" slowly or quickly. Other sources, such as this paper, describe having the children "name" words or other written text, which seems more-or-less equivalent to reading.

  • 1
    I don't think so. I could be wrong. Sep 8, 2022 at 2:59

Named Word is a term used in early educational assessment. It refers to a word that is named by the instructor and then is to be recognised by the child.

Good Bad Cow Cat ... "Can you see the word that says "Good"?

A related assessment is done by using named pictures that associate a word with a picture.

It has not been easy to find relevant reference online but here are two of the best I have found so far. The first is an extract from an assessment list for the early years of childhood:

Experiences in Language Arts, Jeanne M Machado
Beginnings of Communication
Fig 1- 3 Milestones in Developing Language Behaviour
11—14 months:
"Reacts to an increasing number of words. Speaks first word(s) (usually words with one syllable or repeated syllable). Points to named objects or looks toward named word. Makes sounds and noises with whatever is available. Imitates breathing noises, animal noises (like dog's bark or cat's meow), or environmental noises (like "boom" or train toot). ... etc."

The second specific usage is found in this extract from teaching dyslexic children about commonly used words:

Talking Matters
Recognise a named word – Choose five different words, write them out five times and spread them around the table, say “Find me a card which says ‘out’, find me a word that says ‘my’”.

  • So how would you define an unnamed word then? Sep 8, 2022 at 18:35
  • @SurpriseDog I suppose (this is speculation on my part) it would be any of a list of words that are not enunciated or spoken out loud to the child, This technique would perhaps be more suitable to reading tests and assessment of older children who have learned to read, so might (for example) be expected to recognise and talk about the difference between Bet, Let, Get Net Wet New without anyone first referring to the words by their pronunciation or naming them by it.
    – Anton
    Sep 9, 2022 at 22:01

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