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Let's say there is a hospital in your town, regarding its name, you say:

This hospital is named after one of the heroes of this country, Nelson. (Don't focus on the name "Nelson")

Vs.

This hospital took its name from one of the heroes of this country, Nelson.

What is the difference between the two?

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'Is named' is the passive voice of the verb 'to name'. That is correct to use in this case. The hospital did not choose its own name. The action of naming was done to it by others.

'Took its name' says the hospital made that choice itself. It did not.

  • We can say that an inanimate object or thing "takes its name from" somewhere. This is perfectly normal. April takes its name from the Latin word aperire, meaning 'to open' (British Museum); Thursday takes its name from the Norse god Thor; The Piazza Colonna takes its name from the Column of Marco Aurelio, celebrating his victory over the Germans. – Michael Harvey Dec 8 '18 at 10:05
  • I agree saying that type of thing is relatively common. I still contend it is literally inaccurate and that the simpler and literally accurate alternative should be preferred instead. – Ross Murray Dec 8 '18 at 10:32
  • You are entitled to your opinion that a widely accepted usage is "illogical", but you are liable to be downvoted if you use that in providing advice to learners. "Take" is a verb for which dictionaries give numerous meanings, including Merriam-Webster: 7a : ASSUME gods often took the likeness of a human being; when the college took its present form. 11a : to obtain by deriving from a source; takes its title from the name of the hero. – Michael Harvey Dec 8 '18 at 11:07

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