Name It!


Levent from Turkey had the following the question: “I want to ask about the verb which you used in your podcast about the museums: “I can’t name all of the museums in this city.” I understand this verb “name.” I guess you mean that you don’t know the exact number of the all museums?”

It’s not surprising that Levent isn’t clear on the meaning of the word “name.” In fact, as a verb, “name” has several meanings.

In the sentence Levent mentioned — “I can’t name all of the museums in this city.” — “name” means to identify by name, usually by saying it aloud.  When someone asks you to name something, they are asking you to provide a list aloud.  They are not asking you for a number, but rather, the names of each item on the list.  So, a conversation may go like this:
A:  “I’ve been to New York City a lot of times.  I know everything about that city.”
B:  “Okay, then, how many museums are in that city?”
A:  “I think there are 22.”
B:  “Okay, name them!”
A:  “I’m not sure I can name all of them.”

Another meaning of “name,” used as a verb, is to appoint or assign a job to someone.  You probably know the verb “hire,” which means for you, your company, or your organization to give someone a job.  We use “name” in a slightly different way, usually for a position that is important or that carries (includes) some level of honor.  For example, Jeff may be named by the President to be the new ambassador (most important political representative; diplomat) to Ireland.  Jeff is being hired for this job, that’s true, but the job is also an important position that is an honor to receive.

A third way we use “name” as a verb is to mean to specify an amount, a time, a place, a price, or another thing.  If the President offers Jeff the job as ambassador, Jeff may say, “I’ll accept the job only if you will give me a few things.”  Of course, President Obama will say, “Name it!,” meaning that Jeff should simply tell him what he wants and he’ll get those things.  Another example would be if you really wanted to buy your friend’s car, but she is reluctant (not completely willing) to sell it.  You may say to her, “Name your price and I’ll pay it.”

So, you can see that “name” has several meanings as a verb and the way to know the difference is by the context (situation; the words around it).  Thanks, Levent, for the question and I hope this is helpful.

~ Lucy

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25 Responses to Name It!

  1. Fayssal says:

    Lucy and Jeff, I am just enamored with your beautiful spirit, nature and personality. You are so clearly well endowed with the most marvelous gifts, it’s not in everyone’s lot to write, you have the flair for writing or else born to write and enchant us with your never-before-seen explanations and illustration.

    well, very good topic indeed, as we must clear the mist by studying each word separately to steer clear malapropism.

    I love writing I’m not sure i do it correctly but i do love words and try to learn good words every chance I get to better express myself. There was a time when I studied etymology on my own. I always sought wisdom and bettering myself as much as possible. Sometimes I use big words at work with the staff and look at me quizzically not understanding what i am saying and i have to catch myself and explain it in a different way that they can get the gist of what I am saying, well, some say i am such a grandiloquent but i speak what i learn from eslpod and use it within reason. This is not to flaunt myself as a very smart man. I’m just a simple man doing the best I can do in every way possible.

    cheer up guys

  2. Kate says:

    Dear Lucy,

    Thank you for the explanation.

    Could you please clarify one thing to me: why did you use “Name it!” instead of “Name them!” when referring to “a few things”?


  3. Daniel Karengera says:

    I didn’t listen to the podcast about the museums, but when first read that phrase, I also got confused. I guess part of the reason why I got the wrong idea is the use of the verb “to name” in my native language, which is “KinyaRWANDA”. The idea is that when you say:“I can’t name all of the museums in this city.” not only you are saying that you are unable to provide the names of all the museums, but you are also implying that you can’t even tell the correct number of all the museums.
    According to what seems to be true however, our native language are usually misleading. thanks for the clarifications.

  4. Dr. Lucy Tse says:

    You’re right that the more accurate phrase is “Name them!” since Jeff is requesting more than one thing. You can say that and it would be correct.

    However, because “Name it,” as a phrase, really means “I’ll give you anything you want” or “Whatever you say is fine with me,” it is more common to hear people say “Name it!” regardless of how many items or things we are talking about. You may hear native speakers say “Name them!” or “Name it!” in this situation, but I think “Name it” may be more common.

    I hope that helps!

  5. Fayssal says:

    Hi Lucy,
    if memory serves me right, we can use “name it” as an expression which used to say that there are many things to choose from.
    for instance ; I’ve tried every diet going- you name it, I’ve tried it.

  6. Dr. Lucy Tse says:

    The expression “You name it” is not used in the same way as “Name it!” “You name it” means everything that you can think of: “This is the best furniture store in the city. It has a very good selection of beds, desks, chairs, couches–you name it.”

    There are a lot of expressions that include “name.” We’ve only made a start here, but I hope it’s useful.

  7. Peter says:

    Seems like we have some friendly fire here,
    I got caught right in the middle of a cross fire.:))
    Lucy is right,
    There are plenty of expressions and idioms out there for every common word.
    What the matter is which ones are commonly used and which ones are dusted all over:)
    Lucy and Jeff trying to put us on the right track.that is the key to get a right hang of this language
    Let’s put it this way .tell me what is the point of spending time and energy to memorize and learn words and expressions that are long forgotten and are no longer used.
    Dictionaries and other related text books are filled with these expressions, idioms ,and words. Let me ask you something how can we tell them apart, how can we screen them,how we can learn the most common ones and drop the rest when we don’t have a faintest idea of what is going me folks ,we need a helping hand.

  8. Peter says:

    Sometimes learning is finding out what you already know:)

  9. Betty says:

    I was so excited when I saw the title of this blog: ‘Name It’ and saw Lucy’s answer in the 6th comment here saying: There are a lot of expressions that include “name.” We’ve only made a start here…………

    Name is the first English word that we must learn when we were little. The teacher would not know who’s paper it was if we could not read the word ‘name’ and did not put our name there.

    I had bought some ‘The Guinness book of names’ books in order to find names for my children when they were born, I did take ‘name’ serious.

    I was so surprised to learn that, ‘name’, such an innocent word, would play a part in a nasty game ‘calling people names’.

    I could not understand it when many years ago a child told me that she was not happy because someone in her class was calling her name. It really puzzled me.

    I later discovered that, according to ‘’, “Name-calling is the use of any negative label to describe another person”. How odd!

    I could not help but started humming the song “The Name of the Game” – a 1977 song by Swedish pop group ABBA. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in opening any of the video in the internet to listen to this song, could be due to the fact that my computer was very old and could not handle the big computer memory required.

    Every time when I listen to a new ESLPOD Podcast, the question ‘where did Lucy find all these names’ comes up. Did she sometimes just make up the names? They are so difficult to pronounce!

    Apparently, my name ‘Betty’ was fashionable for a baby born at least twenty years before I was born, that’s what some people said. So they said the name did not suit me.

    I chose the name myself because my parents did not know any English and I needed an English name that I could pronounce myself when I was in United Kingdom last time. ‘Betty’ seemed to me that it was from the word ‘Better’, and it was a very easy word for me to say, so I picked the name without knowing anything about the name.

    One of the phenomenon in Hong Kong many years ago was, some children wanted to have an English name because we started learning English and it was simply a fashion to have an English name on top of a Chinese name given by our parents who did not know any English.

    I ended up having more than ten English names and I could not remember which one I used. It was so embarrassing when some of my friends said: ‘I thought your name was ………….. , and I forgot them all because they were not real well established names, I just made them up and it was impossible for me to remember them all.

  10. Talal says:

    thanks to our own Dr.Lucy for sharing and writing with us in this blog, you are so humble Dr.Lucy , I have never seen a celebrity as humble as you .

  11. Fayssal says:

    roger that Dr Lucy, now this mist is cleared……

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! Nice topic “Name it!”. Thank you.

    Nice and “Fire and Firefighters”. We have the same saying with the same meaning “Where there’s smoke there’s fire”. But and “Call, bring the firefighters to put out the fire from my heart!” when you love someone very much.
    Thank you for the meaning of the word “drill” and “blaze”: fire drills, military drills.

    All the best for you all,


  13. Peter says:

    Emiliano where are you hiding:)))
    We are all missing you here
    Common bro,
    This post has got a load of comments already,still no news of you.
    What are your thoughts on the whole thing:)

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! I apologize if I am wrong but where is the private intimacy right regarding Dr. Lucy Tse?

  15. Peter says:

    Good comment out of you,
    Man , initially , you struck me as an 20 -21 year-old girl with a strong passion to learn English.
    Honest,I took it by surprise when I find out that you have kids of your own.
    I was about to aske you out:)))))

  16. Peter says:

    Do be offended please
    Just trying to be funny
    After all, being funny is all I have.

  17. Peter says:

    You know what guys
    I have a very nice methapor for you. You can take it as a totally relative analogy.
    There goes my belief system.
    Jeff and Lucy have this spritual power they somehow penetrate to our brain and give the linguistic Lob of brain a beautiful,nice reshape. In case of me,
    They penteated in; they found a hallow chamber ; they mount a whole brain in there.:)))))
    They are like artist redrawing the line on our brain.
    When it comes to English , they have considered everything regarding English you can name it on the Eslpod:))))

  18. Peter says:

    A nickname for Eslpod just hit me
    Howabout we call it Englishhub
    Not too shabby , huh

  19. Betty says:

    Hi. Peter, thank you for finally reading my comments. You are so funny. Yes, I enjoy fun, not fight.

    You see, I spotted a poster on the wall in one of the buildings I visited today, it said: “Don’t trust people in the cyber world. Be vigilant when meeting new friends”.

    I can trust you, Peter, you have been a student here for a long time. Unless, of course, there are many Peters posting in this blog.

    I kept saying you were very young, so, was I right?

    There are may older people using computers these days, so, don’t just assume everyone online is 20ish.

    In an amazing news, it was revealed UK’s oldest Tweeter Ivy Bean died at 104 at end of July this year. Her celebrity followers included singer Peter Andre, Chris Evans and UK’s ex-prime minister’s wife Sarah Brown.

    The news says: “Soon after joining Facebook in 2007, Mrs Bean was soon receiving 15-16,000 messages a day. She was introduced to Twitter one year later”. So she started Facebook when she was over 100, amazing.

    I don’t want to wait until I am over 100 to start submitting comment in

  20. Tania says:

    Hi! I need to read “Rebecca” again and again… I have the novel in my own book-case.

  21. emiliano says:

    In fact I was thinking the similitudes between English and Spanish, and about this subject there are similar meanings between the two languages.
    Name = nombre
    but asking about names, in English is what is your name?, in Spanish is: como te llamas?, nothing to do with name, names….
    llamar = to call

    Assign a job to someone is just the same in English that in Spanish.
    When the goverment assigns the jobs of ministers or a company assigns a director we use the verb “nombrar” (giving names or calling names)
    the different between English is that we don´t use the names of a sentence like verbs.
    To name = Nombrar.
    Verbs are verbs, name always names……..English is so different in this way.

    Another big different using “name” as Lucy teach us above, is that we don´t say “OK, name them”……we use the verb “ennumerar”
    that comes from the latin “enumerare” that means to name or expose several things, reasons or other things, designing them by order giving numbers or without giving numbers just arbitrarily.

    As much teaching Lucy gives us about English the most interest in my own Spanish language I have.
    Nothing is better to study our own language that learning other different language, and to me English is perfect to learn a
    little more about my Spanish.

    Yes, always your teaching is very helpful, so clear and so easy.
    Thank you Lucy.


  22. Peter says:

    Morning Eslpod,
    Hi Folks,
    Now that I am thinking about ,there a Large number of idioms,terms,and expression out there. My thinking is ,nobody knows all of them. You know what , there is one thing about them that bothers me most -that is , they are fixed. I mean , it is like they are sacred, or in a way ,they are written on the stone. Nobody can touches them.I don’t know how to put it. Let looks at it from different angle. Definitely, of all terms out there , all of them coming from talented individuals who had a flair for it like Lucy ,Jeff,and Warren. I mean people who spend their entire adult life study and search languages.
    Are you with me.
    But ,the flaw is, if let say one medium was instructed 100 years ago , it was made up corresponding to what was going on back then. But , the passage of time changes everything. Now that we live in a modern world ;my question is why some experts like Jeff or other fellows at English hub:)
    Don’t come out and introduce a number of up-to-date terms.
    For instance,
    The seven year itch is an idiom from Way back. Jeff discussed the idiom before. The thing is the idiom does not work any more. I mean, it is not compatible
    With what we have going on today. You know, the idiom should have been changed to the one or two year itch, Giving the circumstances.
    Do you hear me
    Jeff, Shall we dare

  23. Peter says:

    You know what is the brilliance of Eslpod.
    It is focused . Never ever gotten off track.
    The master mind behind the whole Eslpod system somehow successfully manage to keep the woke system running around the most common, and practical terms, words, and idioms.
    I am a living proof for this claim. Whatever ,Eslpod ‘s profs teaches us I heard them totally by fluke one in a one week distance for the intitial introduction of the terms on Eslpod. Literally, one week tops, no to mentions movies and tv shows.
    What Jeff maintains ( says ) there is out there in two or three days max.
    I master all the new terms not by going back and relisten to Jeff over and over, but by letting loose in the flow of daily life and letting myself get hit them.
    It is an active process with no energy use simply because it is inevitable. I mean you cone across to them every where you tune.

  24. Peter says:

    I should save my allowance 🙂 and get a computer. My silly mistakes on my comments is going to roof.
    Sorry palls , I am not that bad, believe me
    The thing is, I am a big guy and the iPhone board( keyboard) is too small in comparisson with giant fingers

  25. Peter says:

    Don’t get me wrong.
    By big guy , I didn’t mean that I am fat or anything. I am not , believe you me.:)))))))

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