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Name-calling

  • Name-calling is an idiom that came into use in the first half of the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom name-calling, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Name-calling is the act of disparaging someone by identifying him with an offensive word. Name-calling is verbal abuse and/or insulting. It never involves a positive sobriquet; the intent of name-calling is to belittle someone and taunt him. Name-calling is often seen in politics and in the schoolyard; it is usually unfair and always destructive. The word name-calling is a noun, the verb is name-call. Related words are name-calls, name-called. Note that name-call is a hyphenated compound word. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two or more words linked by hyphens. The idiom name-calling came into use around 1830.

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    Examples

    He pointed to Best’s video in one of her “chief’s brief” updates, urging residents to call 911 over racist name-calling. (The South Seattle Emerald)

    A political ad criticizing Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a string of name-calling, angry tweets from the president, in which he derided his critics as “loser types”. (The Guardian)

    Trump, famous for his name-calling and insults, told reporters earlier in the week during a visit to Capitol Hill: “Pelosi is a sick woman.” (Nambucca Guardian News)

    During their Friday morning show, MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough responded to President Donald Trump’s Thursday-morning Twitter attack in which he name-called and insulted the cable news personalities. (The Business Insider)


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