Name-dropping is the practice of mentioning important people or institutions within a conversation, story, song, online identity, or other communication. The term often connotes an attempt to impress others; it is usually regarded negatively, and under certain circumstances may constitute a breach of professional ethics. When used as part of a logical argument it can be an example of the false authority fallacy.
A shout-out is a type of name-dropping where a list of names or someone's name is spoken out expressly to direct attention at these groups or individuals, often as a means of expressing kudos or making a referral.
American essayist Joseph Epstein defines name dropping as follows :
name-dropping [...] is using the magic that adheres to the names of celebrated people to establish one's superiority while at the same time making the next person feel the drabness of his or her own life. Name-dropping is a division of snobbery, and one of the snob's missions is to encourage a feeling however vague of hopelessness in others.
Name-dropping is used to position oneself within a social hierarchy. It is often used to create a sense of superiority by raising one's status. By implying (or directly asserting) a connection to people of high status, the name-dropper hopes to raise his or her own social status to a level closer to that of those whose names he or she has dropped, and thus elevate himself or herself above, or into, present company.
Name-dropping can also be used to identify people with a common bond. By indicating the names of people one knows, one makes known his or her social circle, providing an opportunity for others with similar connections to relate.
As a form of appeal to authority, name-dropping can be an important form of informal argumentation, as long as the name being dropped is of someone who is an expert on the subject of the argument and that person's views are accurately represented.
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Name-dropping is also sometimes used in works of fiction to place a story in a certain historical timeframe, or to imply the involvement of a historical figure in the action (for example, in a story set during World War II, mentioning Adolf Hitler or Winston Churchill).
- Wibberley, Leonard (February 24, 1950), "It's Hard to Eradicate the Name-Dropping Pest", Los Angeles Times.
- Bauer, Harry C. (1960), "Bibliographic name-dropping", Library Review 17 (6): 408–410, doi:10.1108/eb012326.
- Donath, J.; Boyd, D. (2004), "Public displays of connection", BT Technology Journal 22 (4): 71–82, doi:10.1023/B:BTTJ.0000047585.06264.cc.
- Anderson, Mark B. (2005), "‘Yeah, I work with Beckham’: Issues of confidentiality, privacy and privilege in sport psychology service delivery" (PDF), Sport & Exercise Psychology Review 1 (2): 3–13, archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-10-05.
- Evans, Donald; Palmer, Humphrey (1986), Understanding arguments, Drake Educational Associates, p. 286.
- Joseph Epstein, "A Nice Little Knack for Name Dropping" in Narcissus Leaves the Pool, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007, p. 80ff.
- Bixler, Susan; Dugan, Lisa Scherrer (2000), "Name-Dropping", 5 steps to professional presence: how to project confidence, competence, and credibility at work, Adams Media, pp. 154–155, ISBN 978-1-58062-442-8.
|Look up name-dropping in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|