Old English nama, noma "name, reputation," from Proto-Germanic *namon (cf. Old Saxon namo, Old Frisian nama, Old High German namo, German Name, Middle Dutch name, Dutch naam, Old Norse nafn, Gothic namo "name"), from PIE *nomn- (cf. Sanskrit nama; Avestan nama; Greek onoma, onyma; Latin nomen; Old Church Slavonic ime, genitive imene; Russian imya; Old Irish ainm; Old Welsh anu "name").
Meaning "famous person" is from 1610s. Meaning "one's reputation" is from c.1300. As a modifier meaning "well-known," first attested 1938. Name brand is from 1944; name-calling attested from 1846; name-dropper first recorded 1947. name-tag is from 1903; name-child attested from 1845. The name of the game "the essential thing or quality" is from 1966; to have one's name in lights "be a famous performer" is from 1929.
He who once a good name gets,
May piss a bed, and say he sweats.
["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
Old English namian "to name, call; nominate, appoint," from source of name (n.). Related: Named; naming.