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The meaning and origin of the expression: Name and shame

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Name and shame

Meaning

The publication of the identity of a person or group that is culpable in some anti-social act in order to shame them into remorse.

Origin

The phrase has been known since the late 19th century as a noun phrase; for example, this piece from the Pennsylvania newspaper The Warren Ledger, October 1884:

"None are willing to father the name and shame of being beer or whisky men."

It began to be used in the 1990s as a verb phrase, following an initiative by the UK Government. On Oct 8, 1996 The Independent (London) reported that:

"The Home Secretary [Conservative minister Michael Howard] is also expected to suggest a scheme to 'name and shame' young offenders by giving courts the power to remove the automatic anonymity for under-18s."