History of Names

The term ‘name’ is a transformation of the Old English ‘nama’, quite similiar to old high German ‘namo’ and perhaps resembling to Proto Indo-European language ‘nomn’.

A name designates a noun, usually employed to identify a thing unique from others. Names can represent a category or class of different entities or a single such entity, either distinctly or in a given context. A name of a person represents a particular distinct and distinguishable individual. It may or may not entail a middle name.


The name of a particular thing or item is at times referred to as proper name – despite of the fact that the term in question has an abstract or concrete idea related to it – and falls in the category of a proper noun. Sometimes there are nouns that can be roughly called ‘names’ – a term used to refer to them in ancient times is ‘general names’ but now this term is obsolete in grammar. For example, the English frequently refer to Shakespeare as “The Bard” – language writer.

Mythological History of Naming

In mythology of naming during the Arthurian era, the code of respect and gallantry observed by knights was that a knight who had lost a fight must disclose his name to the victor. It was regarded a violation of decorum to disclose ones name before the combat started.

A recurrent traditional theme was that a battered knight would, after disclosing his name, ask the victor’s name. Now, if the victor turned out to be considerably strong and popular knight, such as, for example, one of Arthur’s knight, the loser didn’t have to much worry about face-saving, for he had lost at the hand of a much more worthy opponent – as though he was pre-destined to be defeated. But if the victor turned out to be an unfamiliar or of strength commensurate with the loser, his defeat meant a great deal of humiliation and disgrace.

In this sense, it was considered highly objectionable and against the standard code of practice required by the creed of knighthood if a knight was found reluctant to having disclosed his name after the duel in either case. Very rarely it so happened that the victor could not simply tell his name for he knew not! Such was the case with Lancelot and Percival during their earlier compaigns.This inability to reveal once name even after victory some times created a great confusion and embarrassment in the loser who would assume the victor was intentionally doing this to further insult him.

Sir Gawain was, however, a major exception to the norm, who, considering himself greatest of his uncle, Arthur’s knights, would find no hesitation in disclosing his name for he believed he was the greatest. Therefore, right in the beginning of a duel he would pronounce his name as it didn’t tarnish his reputation in that he had violated the norm established in every other case – a kind of regimental or divine right of monarchs.