Name and shame


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Name and shame'?

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.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Name and shame'?

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.”

Trend of name and shame in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.