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Quotations about Names



He was just Jasper; that denoted the real man; the other, the surname, meant so little — and yet so much; custom, convention, environment, the very garment wherewith the real man is clothed and is visible to the surrounding world. We cannot go about with naked souls any more than with unclad bodies in the civilised world... ~Elizabeth Godfrey (Jessie Bedford), The Winding Road, 1902


Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable. ~W. H. Auden


Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive. ~Sam Slick (Thomas Chandler Haliburton, 1796–1865)


And there 's a nice youngster of excellent pith,—
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes


Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names. ~Proverb


Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names. ~Japanese proverb


From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues our honors. ~Proverb


This is an age of strange names... ~W.J. & G.A. Audsley, Taste versus Fashionable Colours: A Manual for Ladies on Colour in Dress, 1863 [referring here specifically to a book title –tg]


What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet...
~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, c.1594  [II, 2, Juliet]


The Patels have first names that hurt my tongue... ~Tom Hanks, "A Month on Greene Street," Uncommon Type: Some Stories, 2017


I mean, this is a guy who changes his name to climb out of his family tree. ~Elementary, "High Heat," 2017, written by Kelly Wheeler  [S5, E19, Detective Bell]


This is a more important subject than it seems at first sight... Nicknames, for the most part, govern the world. ~William Hazlitt, "On Nicknames," 1818


Nicknames are the convenient, portable tools by which they simplify the process of mischief, and get through their job with the least time and trouble... They are to be had, ready cut and dry, of all sorts and sizes, wholesale and retail, for foreign exportation or for home consumption, and for all occasions in life. ~William Hazlitt, "On Nicknames," 1818


A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man. ~Author unknown, as quoted by William Hazlitt, 1818


"Brevity is the soul of wit;" and of all eloquence a nickname is the most concise, of all arguments the most unanswerable. ~William Hazlitt, "On Nicknames," 1818


Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behaviour. ~Logan Pearsall Smith


I hate American simplicity. I glory in the piling up of complications of every sort. If I could pronounce the name James in any different or more elaborate way I should be in favor of doing it. ~Henry James


I confess to a great liking for the Indian fashion of name-giving: every man known by that phrase which best expresses him to whoso names him. Thus he may be Mighty-Hunter, or Man-Afraid-of-a-Bear, according as he is called by friend or enemy, and Scar-Face to those who knew him by the eye's grasp only. No other fashion, I think, sets so well with the various natures that inhabit in us, and if you agree with me you will understand why so few names are written here as they appear in the geography. For if I love a lake known by the name of the man who discovered it, which endears itself by reason of the close-locked pines it nourishes about its borders, you may look in my account to find it so described. But if the Indians have been there before me, you shall have their name, which is always beautifully fit and does not originate in the poor human desire for perpetuity... There is no use trying to improve on Indian names, really! ~Mary Hunter Austin, The Land of Little Rain, 1903  [a little altered —tg]


Even though all the millions of births are pretty much alike, what will set your child apart from the others is its name. Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell, the name will carry. ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986


I always thought it was a ridiculous name for a prison. Sing Sing, I mean. Sounds more like an opera house. ~From the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961, screenplay by George Axelrod, based on the novella by Truman Capote


His right name was Alexis Alexander Sparks. It was so long that we decided to cut it up and use it in pieces. My mother called him Alexis, my sister called him Al, most of the troop called him Sparksey, and Mr. Ellsworth called him A.A.S. The only person who calls him by his full name is Minerva, because it reminds her of the history of Greece. ~Percy Keese Fitzhugh, Roy Blakeley: Lost, Strayed or Stolen, 1921  [a little altered —tg]


Surely you do not let them call you Vicky. A name like Victoria is so beautiful, I could not bear to part with a single syllable of it. ~Dark Shadows, 2012, screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith  [Barnabas Collins]


And I dream of the days when work was scrappy,
And rare in our pockets the mark of the mint,
When we were angry and poor and happy,
And proud of seeing our names in print...
~Gilbert K. Chesterton, "A Song of Defeat," Poems, 1915


...when their Names are emboss'd in a different character upon the Title-page, sometime only with the two first Letters, and sometime with fictitious cramp terms, which few shall understand the meaning of; and of those that do, All shall not agree in their verdict of the performance; some censuring, others approving it, mens judgments being as different as their palates, That being toothsome to one, which is unsavoury, and nauseous to another: though it is a sneaking piece of cowardice for Authors to put feigned names to their works, as if like Bastards of their Brain they were afraid to own them. ~Desiderius Erasmus, translated from Latin


An anonymous pen is a coward's weapon, which stabs in the dark. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882


I have not... concealed my real name beneath a fiction. ~James G. Percival, Preface to Clio, 1822


Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves. ~Terri Guillemets


Pseudonym:  writing under a false name so that one may write more truly. ~Terri Guillemets


O.  The fifteenth letter of the alphabet, used principally by the Irish in front of their names. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905


His name it is Pedro-Pablo-Ignacio-Juan-
Francesco García y Gabaldon,
But the fellers call him Pete...
~Mary Hunter Austin (1868–1934), "A Feller I Know"


James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree...
J. J.
M. M.
W. G. Du P...
(Commonly known as Jim)...
~A. A. Milne, "Disobedience," When We Were Very Young, 1924


The titles of European princes are rather more numerous than ours of Asia, but by no means so sublime. The King of Visapour, or Pegu, not satisfied with claiming the globe, and all its appurtenances, to him and his heirs, asserts a property even in the firmament, and extends his orders to the milky way. The monarchs of Europe, with more modesty, confine their titles to earth, but make up by number what is wanting in their sublimity. Such is their passion for a long list of these splendid trifles, that I have known a German prince with more titles than subjects, and a Spanish nobleman with more names than shirts. ~Oliver Goldsmith, Letters from a Citizen of the World to His Friends in the East


There is a whole family of Misses whose company better be avoided. Miss Fortune is ever sticking her nose in where it is not wanted. Miss Demeanor is ugly and haughty yet is constantly getting courted. Of Miss Ann Thropy we have a perfect abhorrence. Always steer clear of Miss Hap. Miss Judge, with a mind warped by the strongest prejudices, this lady exalts herself to pronounce sentence upon people's words and actions. She is closely related to Miss Construe and Miss Conception, to whom she is warmly attached, and greatly influenced by their counsel. Harm is in Miss Chief's nature, her presence invariably followed by evil consequences. Miss Be Havior is a daughter of the House of Incivility. Miss Nomer is erratic, by slips of memory and tongue; her course of action is more ludicrous than weighty. Miss Trust is afraid of her own shadow. Miss Print is a devotee of literary efforts. Whether it be that her manuscript is illegible, or the typo at fault, her articles never appear well. Miss Quote is of poetic temperament, emulates rhapsody, and is fond of reciting classics and poems of high order, but her recitations are incorrect. Miss Represent is a great talker and a born gossip. Not always does she mean to do harm, but she gives color to trifling words and actions that eventually grow into vast magnitude. Be sure to get a true wife and not a Miss Tress.  ~Various  [This is compiled from seven newspapers and magazines spanning 1818 through 1885, with some wordings slightly altered. The only credited author is from the latest, Angeline E. Alexander, "A Sisterhood of Spinsters," 1885. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]





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