Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: name

Type: Article

He may not be a household name, but Tim Bowen proves yet again why he’s a star of the ELT community.

‘At the moment, the provisional government exists in name only’. Something that exists in name only has an official name but nothing else. Conversely, if something exists in all but name, the only thing it lacks is an official title, as in ‘He was leader of the opposition to the official government in all but name’.

If someone’s name is mud, they are extremely unpopular because of something they have done, as in ‘I wouldn’t tell anyone you know him. His name is mud around here’.

If something has someone’s name on it, it is destined for them although they haven’t yet got it, as in ‘After all the luck they’ve had this season, Chelsea’s name is clearly on the Champions League title’.

If you name and shame a person or organization, you publish embarrassing facts about them, especially in order to persuade them to change their behaviour or policies, as in ‘We intend to name and shame companies which use child labour’, and if you name names, you state publicly the names of people involved in something dishonest or illegal, as in ‘The police are expected to name names at this afternoon’s press conference’.

If you make a name for yourself¸ you gain a reputation for doing something, usually something positive, as in ‘He first made a name for himself as an actor in the late 1970s’. A household name is someone who is known by everyone, as in ‘After years of performing before a handful of people, he has now become a household name and his concerts sell out within minutes’.

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