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A name is a label for a thing, person, place, product (as in a brand name), and even an idea or concept, originally to distinguish one from another. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. A name is also called a proper noun.

A human name is an anthroponym; a toponym is a place name; hydronym is a name of a body of water; an ethnonym is name of an ethnic group. For more, see a list of -onym words.

In addition to its original purpose of distinguishing, names have come to have additional or pure honorary and memorial values. For example, the posthumous name's primary function is commemorative.

Naming is the process of assigning a particular word or phrase to a pattern that has been noticed. This can be quite deliberate or a natural process that occurs in the flow of life as some phenomenon comes to the attention of the users of a language. Many new words or phrases come into existence during translation as attempts are made to express concepts from one language in another.

Either as a part of the naming process, or later as usage is observed and studied by lexicographers, the word can be defined by a description of the pattern it refers to.

Table of contents
1 Common names and scientific names
2 Names of persons
3 Nonhuman creature names
4 External link
5 See also

Common names and scientific names

A common name is usually a name for a plant or animal in a locale's native language, often describing the item's appearance. For example, "buttercup" might describe several unrelated plants with small yellow flowers in different parts of the world. There are millions of possible objects that can be described in science, too many to create common names for every one. As a response, a number of systems of systematic names have been created. An example of a systematic naming scheme is Linnaean taxonomy, which uses Latin names for plants and animals.

Names of persons

It is universal for a person to have a name; the rare exceptions occur in the cases of mentally disturbed parents, or wild children growing up in isolation. A personal name is usually given at birth or at a young age, and is usually kept throughout life; there might be additional names indicating family relationships, area of residence, and so on. The details of naming are strongly governed by culture; some are more flexible about naming than others, but for all cultures where historical records are available, the rules are known to change over time.

In contemporary Western society (except for Iceland), the most common naming convention is that of a given name, usually indicating the child's sex, followed by the parents' family name. In earlier times, Scandinavian countries followed patronymic naming, with people effectively called "X son of Y"; this is now the case only in Iceland.

Depending on national convention, additional given names and titles are considered part of the name.

Several cultures' naming systems have been documented in this encyclopedia, see List of personal naming conventions

See also: Namesdays in Sweden.

Common components of true names given at birth include:

Some people (called anonyms) choose to be anonymous, that is, to hide their true names, for fear of governmental prosecution or societal ridicule of their works or actions. Another method to disguise one's identity is to employ a pseudonym.

The Inuits believe that the souls of the namesakes are one, so they traditionally refer to the junior namesakes, not just by the names (atiq), but also by kinship title, which applies across gender and generation without implications of disrespect or seniority.

Nonhuman creature names

Apart from the Linnaean taxonomy, some individual nonhuman animals and plants are given names, usually of endearment.

In some cultures, pets or sporting animals are sometimes given names similar to human names. Other cultures, such as the Chinese, give the animals nonhuman names, because it would be offensive and disrespectful to the person of the same name; even cultures that give human names to animals sometimes do so to an ugly animal to insult the bearer of the name. For examples of nonhuman names,

In bonsai, some plants are given adjectival names, such as "The Cloud of Joyful Memories".

External link

See also