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Name-dropping (or name-checking) is the practice of naming or alluding to important or famous people and institutions within a conversation,[1] story,[2] song, online identity,[3] or other communication in order to subtly indicate one's association with them. The term often connotes an attempt to impress others; it is usually regarded negatively,[1] and under certain circumstances may constitute a breach of professional ethics.[4] When used as part of a logical argument it can be an example of the false authority fallacy.[5]


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.[citation needed] By implying (or directly asserting) a connection to people of high status, the name-dropper hopes to raise their own social status to a level closer to that of those whose names they have dropped, and thus elevate themselves 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 their social circle, providing an opportunity for others with similar connections to relate.[6]

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.


Use of the first name may be effective, as in the case of "Kingsley" for Kingsley Amis.[7]

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).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wibberley, Leonard (24 February 1950), "It's Hard to Eradicate the Name-Dropping Pest", Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Bauer, Harry C. (1960), "Bibliographic name-dropping", Library Review, 17 (6): 408–410, doi:10.1108/eb012326.
  3. ^ Donath, J.; Boyd, D. (2004), "Public displays of connection", BT Technology Journal, 22 (4): 71–82, doi:10.1023/
  4. ^ 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 5 October 2015.
  5. ^ Evans, Donald; Palmer, Humphrey (1986), Understanding arguments, Drake Educational Associates, p. 286.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Joseph Epstein, "A Nice Little Knack for Name Dropping" in Narcissus Leaves the Pool, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007, p. 80ff.

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of name-dropping at Wiktionary