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Names

  • Nicknames are fond names. We do not give them to people we dislike.

  • Hoary idea, in any case, expecting a woman to surrender her name to her husband's in exchange for his. Why? Would any man submerge his identity and heritage to the woman he wed?

  • I wish always to be quoted as George Eliot.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1879, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 9 ()
  • A name is a road.

  • To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual.

  • I understand why one wants to know the names of what he loves ... Naming is a kind of possessing, of caressing and fondling.

  • Writing my name I raise an edifice / Whose size and shape appear to me / As homelike as the hexagon the bee / Builds for his own and honey's use.

  • I've always thought my creative life began the moment my mother named me Twyla.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Early in school, they called me 'the artist.' When teachers wanted things painted, they called upon me, they called upon 'the artist.' I am not saying that I learned my name, animals can learn their names, I am saying that they learned it.

  • It would have saved trouble had I remained Perkins from the first, this changing of women's names is a nuisance we are now happily outgrowing.

  • Names govern the world.

  • We humans have had from time unknown the compulsion to name things and thus to be able to deal with them. The name we give to something shapes our attitude toward it. And in ancient thought the name itself has power, so that to know someone's name is to have a certain power over him. And in some societies, as you know, there was a public name and a real or secret name, which would not be revealed to others.

  • Because we name, we name ourselves, and we can think of ourselves as separate creatures, apart from nature. We can, therefore, using our vision and our power to create language, develop science and art. But in this process of naming, of being able to take apart nature, to study it, to communicate about it, in the very process that becomes our glory lies an insoluble paradox. And that is this: nature is intricately and infinitely connected. The minute I name something and begin to regard it as a separate entity, I break this unbreakable unity. So that which makes it possible for us to seek truths about the universe and about ourselves has within itself the guarantee that we will never be able to find the Truth. Our knowledge must be forever fragmented, because that is the nature of systematic knowledge.

  • It's a little-known linguistic curiosity that the name Jehovah or Jaweh is the same name as Eve; Havva, the counterpart name in Farsi, the language spoken by the Persians, means either Jaweh or Eve.

  • ... human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its color until the blueness becomes as real as a keynote of music.

  • Knowledge supersedes impression. Naming relegates nature to the world of books, experts, and authorities. It dilutes the immediacy of the experience.

  • These have been weeks when no one / calls me by name, and this is very simple: / The parrot in the kitchen of my house / has not yet learned it. / People the breadth of the city / don't know it. / It has no voice, no sound or note. / Days. I go without a name / in the street whose name I know. / I sit for hours without a name / before the tree whose name I know. / Sometimes I think without a name / of him whose name I don't know.

  • Her profession was words and she believed in them deeply. The articulation, interpretation, appreciation, and preservation of good words. She believed in their power. If you truly named something, you had that degree of control over it. Words could incite, soothe, destroy, exorcise, redeem.

  • Picking the right name for the baby is beset with difficulties. ... whatever name you choose, the baby, some years hence, will hate it anyway, and decide to have his friends call him Slats or Rocky ...

  • My parents got carried away with the letter P when they were naming the kids in our family. There's me, Paula, my sisters Peggy and Patty, and my brother Pjimmy, spelled with a silent P.

  • What we name must answer to us; we can shape it if not control it.

  • When we get civilised, I believe children will go by number until they get old enough to choose their own names.

  • ... both legally and familiarly, as well as in my books, I now have only one name, which is my own.

    • Colette,
    • 1928, in Enid McLeod, trans., Break of Day ()
  • Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home? Only the one who knows your name.

  • I think there ought to be a law against naming a girl till she's old enough to choose for herself.

  • A name is a solemn thing ...

  • There is a great deal in a name. It often signifies much, and may involve a great principle.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1847, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • Don't call me Greta. I hate that name. Call me G.G. So much nicer, don't you think?

    • Greta Garbo,
    • in Frederick Sands and Sven Broman, The Divine Garbo ()
  • Dear me no Dears, Sir ...

  • For never has there been, in modern times, such a Homeric world, where so much value is pinned onto the utterance of name! Entire conversations, entire lives, are devoted to the act of naming people, and in Pakistan the affluent would be totally devoid of talk if they were unable to take names in vain. Caste and all its subclassifications are recreated every day in the structure of a conversation that knows which names to name ...

  • it is frustrating to name someone or something when in / the real world all is in motion, in a state of change. / That's why there is a danger when you try to name with / one name what is many, has no sides and is round.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • Nicknames are potent ways of cutting people down to size.

  • ... how ridiculous we often are in our negations, our strutting self importance, our penchant for making labels and sticking them on people. As though labelling a person disposed of him!

  • He did not speak again till just before he died, when he kissed his wife's hand with singular tenderness and called her 'Elizabeth.' She had been christened Augusta Frederica; but then, as the doctors explained, dying men often make these mistakes.

  • Our names are our first gifts, and they bring a mixed legacy of burdens and hopes.

  • ... I've felt that if I just used initials nobody would know whether I was a man or a woman, a dog or a tiger. I could hide from view, like a bat on the underside of a branch.

  • Children's books are looked on as a sideline of literature. A special smile. They are usually thought to be associated with women. I was determined not to have this label of sentimentality put on me so I signed by my intials, hoping people wouldn't bother to wonder if the books were written by a man, woman or kangaroo.

    • P.L. Travers,
    • in Haskel Frankel, "A Rose for Mary Poppins," Saturday Review ()
  • I don't remember anybody's name. Why do you think the 'dahling' thing started?

  • One-way first-name calling always means inequality — witness servants, children and dogs.

  • Naming can limit as well as empower.

    • Loraine Hutchins,
    • in Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, eds., Bi Any Other Name ()
  • The children across the street ... called one another's names: Foi, Hope, Faith, Espérance, Beloved, God-Given, My Joy, First Born, Last Born, Aséfi, Enough-Girls, Enough-Boys, Deliverance, Small Misery, Big Misery, No Misery. Names as bright and colorful as the giant poincianas in Madame Augustin's garden.

  • This naming of things is so crucial to possession — a spiritual padlock with the key thrown irretrievably away — that it is a murder, an erasing, and it is not surprising that when people have felt themselves prey to it (conquest), among their first acts of liberation is to change their names ...

  • Words can destroy. What we call each other ultimately becomes what we think of each other, and it matters.

  • The child feels that in learning the names of persons and things he gains a marvelous power over them. When he calls the name of a person, does not that person come to him? When he calls the name of a thing, is it not supplied?

  • The Chinese give young children a milk name — a first name which they are at liberty to change, later on, for one of their own selection. Surely that custom is more civilized than ours. Many of us go through life detesting the names our parents inflicted upon us. Why not adopt the Chinese custom of the temporary name which children can drop if they want when they grow up?

  • [On her name:] Lotus wants to be totally free; Weinstock will settle for a discount.

  • [On being requested to apply for a passport using her husband's name:] Mr. Secretary: Will you kindly have issued to me a passport under my own name. There is no law compelling a woman to use any but her own name, and I have never done so. Since it is apparent that the purpose of a passport is to establish identity, I assume you will not wish me to travel under a false name.

    • Doris Fleischman,
    • 1925, in Margaret Case Harriman, The Vicious Circle: The Story of the Algonquin Round Table ()
  • From antiquity, people have recognized the connection between naming and power.

    • Casey Miller,
    • in Casey Miller and Kate Swift, Words and Women ()
  • I don't think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are 'bad with names.' No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. ... It's like saying, 'Hey a disclaimer about me: "I'm rude."'

  • A wife should no more take her husband's name than he should hers.

  • ... the notion of giving something a name is the vastest generative idea that ever was conceived ...