Name-dropping is the practice of naming or alluding to important people and 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' can be regarded as a type of name-dropping where someone's name, or a list of names, is spoken out in order to direct attention towards these groups or individuals, often as a means of expressing kudos or making a referral.
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.
- 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.
- Joseph Epstein, "A Nice Little Knack for Name Dropping" in Narcissus Leaves the Pool, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007, p. 80ff.
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