Names

Names

  • Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge

  • Adolf Hitler (not Adolph)

  • Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden: As with all names which originate in a different script, there are several ways to render them. I think these are the most widely accepted styles. It is ok to use ‘Bin’ if it is the first word in a sentence or heading.

  • Alastair Campbell, Alistair Darling, Alistair McGowan, Aleister Crowley (occultist 1875 - 1947)

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber but Lord Lloyd-Webber (Lords are not allowed to use two names without a hyphen).

  • Anjelica Huston, not the usual Angelica

  • Ann Widdecombe, not Anne or Widdicombe

  • Antony Gormley, Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon, died 2017), Antony Worrall Thompson, Antony and Cleopatra

  • Baghdad, not Bagdad

  • Barbra Streisand; usual spelling is Barbara; Eastern European spelling is Barbora

  • Bennet: The name of Elizabeth and her family in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, not Bennett.

  • Bernard Hogan-Howe, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has a hyphen. Clue: Richard Littlejohn called him ‘Hyphen-Howe’.

  • Beverly Allitt: Nurse jailed for life in 1993 for murdering four children. Her name is variously spelled Beverly and Beverley, and it is hard to be sure without seeing her birth certificate, but I am pretty confident it is Beverly.

  • Beverly Hills, not Beverley

  • Billie Holiday (singer, 1915 - 1959) not Holliday

  • Birds Eye (no apostrophe)

  • BlackBerry, BlackBerrys: I can’t believe anyone in journalism doesn’t know this name, but the evidence is frequently there.

  • Bridget Jones, Brigitte Bardot

  • Brink's-Mat: The security firm robbed of £26million in 1983.

    Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the charity Kids Company (no apostrophe).

  • Camilla Parker Bowles: no hyphen

  • Caribbean, not Carribean

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones: The hyphen has come and gone and it is very hard to pin down the current state of play, but most current sources have it in place.

  • Christopher Eccleston, the actor; Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One CEO

  • Costa Rica: a Central American country; Puerto Rico: a Caribbean island

  • Courtenay, Sir Tom, the British actor; Courteney Cox, the American actress

  • Crufts: no apostrophe

  • Dam Busters/Dambusters: The RAF’s 617 Squadron attacked three German dams on May 16, 1943, using the ‘bouncing bomb’ designed by Barnes Wallis. The squadron was subsequently nicknamed ‘the Dambusters’. However the 1951 book and the 1955 film based on it are called ‘The Dam Busters’. Incidentally the dams raid was led by Guy Gibson. The squadron was later commanded by Leonard Cheshire.

  • Damian Green, Damian Hurley

  • Damien Hirst, Damien the character in The Omen

    Delevingne, Cara and Poppy

  • David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, born 1970; David Davis, Brexit Secretary and Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden (Yorkshire) born 1948.

  • Denis Law, Denis Lawson, Denis Norden: The more common spelling is Dennis.

  • Doctor Who is the name of the programme; the main character is the Doctor, not Doctor Who. In neither case is it Dr.

  • Dominican Republic is the neighbour of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, while Dominica is one of the Windward Islands. Don’t say ‘the island of Haiti’.

  • Fanny Cradock, not Craddock: Early TV cook. Her husband and co-presenter Johnny came out with the immortal line: ‘May all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny’s’.

  • Felicity Kendal, not Kendall

  • Flying Scotsman: The recently restored steam locomotive. It should not be called ‘the Flying Scotsman’ or ‘Flying Scot’. Incidentally a locomotive hauls a train, so it is incorrect to call Flying Scotsman (or any other locomotive) a train.

  • Francis/Frances: Francis is the usual male spelling, Frances is the female. Note the male American tennis player is Frances Tiafoe.

  • Gaddafi: The most common spelling. The late great Arthur Firth, onetime editor of the Daily Express, came up with a brilliant (though unsuitable for a family stylebook) mnemonic for two Ds and one F: ‘Double Dealing F****r’

  • Gandhi not Ghandi; Gurkha not Ghurka

  • Gordon Ramsay, not Ramsey

  • Gregg Wallace of Masterchef, not Greg

  • Guinness World Records, no longer Guinness Book of Records

  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s School: Many Haberdashers, one Mr Aske

  • Harley-Davidson

  • Harrods: No apostrophe

  • Hawaiian

  • Helena Bonham Carter: No hyphen

  • Hillary Clinton; Hilary Benn. Usual spelling for both male and female is Hilary.

  • Hinckley is in Leicestershire, Hinkley Point is in Somerset.   John Hinckley: President Reagan's would-be assassin

  • J R R Tolkien

  • Jack Daniel’s whiskey, not Daniels or whisky

  • Jeeves is almost always wrongly described as a butler. In fact P G Wodehouse’s creation is Bertie Wooster’s manservant, valet or gentleman’s gentleman.

  • Jenson Button, not Jensen. The old make of car is a Jensen.

  • Jimi Hendrix, greatest rock guitarist of all time.

  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

  • Jonathon Porritt (Sir, but he prefers not to use it) (usual spelling is Jonathan)

  • Judy Finnigan, not Finnegan

  • Julien Macdonald, fashion designer; Julien Temple, film director (usual spelling is Julian)

  • Kenny Dalglish, not Dalgleish

  • Keystone Kops, not Cops

  • Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea (note hyphen and lower case ‘un’). He is the son of Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, and grandson of Kim Il-sung (d. 1994).

  • L’Wren Scott

  • Lady Colin Campbell is Lady Colin at the second reference, not Lady Campbell

  • Lady Gaga, not GaGa

  • Land Rover, Range Rover (no hyphen)

  • Leonardo da Vinci: At second mention always Leonardo, never da Vinci (because ‘da Vinci’ simply indicates the town he came from); but note The Da Vinci Code for the book and the film.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio

  • Leslie/Lesley: Leslie is the usual male spelling, Lesley is the female. An exception is actress Leslie Caron.

  • Lloyds is the banking group, Lloyd’s the insurance market.

  • Londonderry is the legal name for the town in Northern Ireland, and is the name preferred by unionists. However the city council has changed its name to Derry, and this is the name preferred by nationalists.

  • Lord Justice Leveson: Use this full title, not Lord Leveson. The latter would mean he is a peer entitled to sit in the House of Lords, which he is not. His title reflects his position as a judge who sits in the Court of Appeal (technically a Lord Justice of Appeal). If you want a change from Lord Justice Leveson, the correct term is Sir Brian Leveson, because he received an automatic knighthood when he became a High Court Judge.

  • Lord Tebbit, not Tebbitt (Norman Tebbit)

  • Lord’s cricket ground

  • Louise Shackelton, not Shackleton: Violinist and wife of David Miliband.

  • Loyd Grossman, not Lloyd

  • Madame Tussauds (no apostrophe), the waxworks; Madame Butterfly, the opera; Madame Bovary, the novel; Call Me Madam, the musical; Madam Secretary, the TV series.

  • Madeleine McCann: Her parents have made it known that they prefer the full name Madeleine in copy; Maddie is acceptable in headings

  • Marco Pierre White: The first two names are his given or Christian names; his surname is White. Therefore he is Mr White, not Mr Pierre White, or even worse, Mr Pierre-White. In fact, as he is a ‘celebrity’, I would tend to call him ‘White’ unless he is involved in legal proceedings. The same applies to his son Marco Pierre White, who should be referred to as White or Mr White, followed by ‘junior’ if necessary for clarity, but not Pierre White junior.

  • Mary Celeste, not Marie

  • McDonald's, but Big Mac

  • Meat Loaf, the performer, not Meatloaf

  • Michele Elliott of Kidscape, not Michelle; T S Eliot; Billy Elliot; House of Eliott (old TV series)

  • Mickey Mouse, not Micky

  • Middlesbrough, not Middlesborough

  • Miss Havisham (not Miss Haversham) in Dickens's Great Expectations

  • Mother Teresa, not Theresa (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta from 2002, canonised in September 2016 to become Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

  • Muhammad Ali, Prophet Muhammad

  • Munchausen’s syndrome and Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy: These medical conditions, in which the patient pretends to be ill or induces symptoms in another person, are named after Baron Munchhausen (double ‘h’), a noted teller of tall tales. Note that the medical term has only one ‘h’.

  • Nancy Dell'Olio: two ls in Dell, one in Olio

  • Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, not Peninsular

  • Pete Townshend of The Who; Group Captain Peter Townsend (deceased), one-time lover of Princess Margaret (deceased), Sue Townsend (deceased), Adrian Mole author.

  • Philips, the electrical goods firm (one l)

  • Phillip Schofield (double l)

  • Phillips-head screwdriver, named after its inventor Henry F Phillips. This also commonly appears as Phillips head screwdriver and Phillips screwdriver.

  • Pimm’s, not Pimms - you may need this for Wimbledon.

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers

  • Procter and Gamble, not Proctor

  • Prophet Muhammad, Muhammad Ali

  • Queensberry rules for boxing, not Queensbury

  • Range Rover, Land Rover (no hyphen)

  • Renee Zellweger: double e in Renee, one g in Zellweger

  • Rolls-Royce (hyphen)

  • Rudolf Hess, Rudolf Nureyev; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rudolph Valentino

  • Sahara: Purists say there is no need to add ‘desert’ because Sahara means desert in Arabic. For those not fluent in Arabic I don’t see the problem with adding ‘desert’. Having said that, it is unlikely that a reader would not know what you meant by Sahara, so maybe ‘desert’ is not necessary.

  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta: See Mother Teresa

  • Savile Row, Jimmy Savile, not Saville; Savills estate agents (no apostrophe)

  • Sharron Davies, not Sharon or Davis

  • Sienna Miller, actress, and burnt sienna, colour; but Siena in Italy

  • Snoop Dogg, not Dog: Rapper whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.

  • Spider-Man

  • St Andrews, the Scottish university and golf course - no apostrophe

  • St John Ambulance, not St John’s

  • Stansted airport, not Stanstead

  • Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt (double t); Wookiee (double e)

  • Stefanie Powers, actress, Stephenie Meyer, writer: usual spelling is Stephanie

  • Superman

  • Taittinger champagne, not Tattinger

  • Taliban, not Taleban (following the practice of using the shorter version)

  • Tara Palmer-Tomkinson

  • Tehran, not Teheran

  • Terrence Higgins Trust, not Terence

  • Theresa May, not Teresa

  • Veuve Clicquot champagne, not Veuve Cliquot

  • Vicky Pryce, Miss: the former wife of Chris Huhne. She should technically be Mrs Pryce, because that is her previous married name which she kept on marriage to Huhne, but most papers took a decision to use the incorrect Miss Pryce to avoid raising more questions than they answer. (See ‘Married women’ in General Topics below).

  • Wedgwood, not Wedgewood, in both the china company and Anthony Wedgwood Benn, the full name of the late Tony Benn.

  • WWF: Stands for World Wide Fund for Nature, not World Wildlife Fund. It changed in 1986, but the old name is retained in the US and Canada.

  • X-Men

Back to top

General topics

  • ‘Plural’ names, such as Jones, Wales or Balls: Mr Jones’s house; Mr and Mrs Jones’s house; the Jones family; the Joneses went on holiday; the Joneses’ house. The latter looks a bit awkward so usually you would find a way round it, such as ‘the family’s house’. Note that a ‘plural’ name is not treated the same as a plural noun in terms of apostrophes. It is treated as singular. Therefore it is incorrect to say ‘Prince Charles’ list of engagements’ or ‘Ed Balls’ appearance on Strictly Come Dancing’. These should be ‘Prince Charles’s list of engagements’ and ‘Ed Balls’s appearance on Strictly Come Dancing’. A useful aide memoire might be ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’.

  • Honorifics: Judgment is often needed here. The traditional practice in quality papers is to refer to adults as Mr, Mrs or Miss (and these days Ms), but tabloids often use first names. Most papers do not give an honorific to anyone accused in court, male or female, or to convicted offenders. Male sportsmen and celebrities are a little more tricky. If they are involved in some serious story, perhaps as a witness in court, it may be better to give them a ‘Mr’. Usually, however, it seems better to give them just a surname. Thus I think you would put ‘Rooney’ rather than ‘Mr Rooney’ in a story about him being on holiday with his family. Showbiz knights also need careful handling. In a story about the Rolling Stones it looks silly to talk of ‘Sir Mick’; he should usually be Mick Jagger at the first reference and Jagger subsequently. However, in more personal stories, such as the death of L’Wren Scott, ‘Sir Mick’ may be more appropriate. Female celebrities should be treated in line with the publication’s policy on female honorifics, so it could be ‘Miss Winslet’ or Winslet, or ‘Dame Judi’ rather than Dench. (This topic is also covered in the Political Correctness section.) With ‘celebrity’ Lords and Ladies who are life peers and not aristocracy, call them by their familiar original name in the first reference, then Lord or Lady whoever. For example ‘Nigel Lawson and Margaret Thatcher were prominent politicians. Lord Lawson is now a noted writer while Lady Thatcher became a film star.’

    Years ago newspapers used to give foreigners the honorifics of their own language, eg Herr Hitler, Madame Sarkozy. This practice has more or less died out so it would now be Mr Hitler and Mrs Sarkozy.

    Note that in China the first name is the equivalent of a surname, so Deng Xiaoping would become Mr Deng.

  • Married women: If a woman divorces but keeps her married name she remains Mrs Marriedname. A common misconception is that a divorced woman is Miss Marriedname. This is not so. If she reverts to her maiden name she becomes Miss Maidenname. Be careful with women in the public eye, such as MPs, who may use their maiden name but are married, for example Harriet Harman. She is Miss Harman. See main list for Vicky Pryce.

Back to top

Last updated August 24, 2017