We need more information about this guy. Specifically / Namely, what is his name, where he lives, and whether he has a gun.

It is assumed that we don't need any other facts. We don't care whether he has a big and very angry dog, a drive license, and whether he sleep with the knife under the pillow.

Which word should be used in such a case, "specifically" or "namely"?

  • 1
    It feels casual, with a note of urgency, as if a chief inspector of police is giving orders to their small team. We need more (information) about/on this guy: his name, (his) location, whether/if he has a gun. You could leave it out altogether... Otherwise, any of namely/particularly/specifically should work. Dec 28, 2020 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


Having "namely" and "his name" so close is not a bright solution. I would avoid repetition:

We need more information about this guy. Specifically, (we need to know) his name, his address, and whether he has a gun.

Note: There are many synonyms of namely that you can use in this sentence. Specifically may sound a bit too formal for the register you are using. To keep the same register you could say:

We need more information about this guy, and I mean his name, his address, and whether he has a gun.

  • Thanks. So, "namely" and "specifically" have the same meaning in sentences like this, and the only difference is the tone?
    – john c. j.
    Dec 28, 2020 at 11:54
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    They are synonyms in this instance, and yes, "specifically" is slightly more formal than "namely"
    – fev
    Dec 28, 2020 at 11:57
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    The reason namely is "incorrect" in the cited context isn't to do with the fact that the noun name occurs in close proximity. It's because namely should be followed by the specific name of something / someone (which / who has previously been "obliquely / implicitly" referenced by earlier text). It doesn't really make sense to follow namely by [specific] example questions. Dec 28, 2020 at 13:03
  • I found this example on WordHippo : "The prison setting ultimately serves as a backdrop to the deeper question posed by the film, namely, can a claymation skit hold water." But I think I understand how your point is different from my example.
    – fev
    Dec 28, 2020 at 13:32
  • @fev: Great example of "namely" usage! In that sentence, and all proper uses of "namely", the earlier part, "the deeper question posed by the film", describes obliquely what is made plain in the second part, "can a claymation skit hold water". Sep 2, 2021 at 12:35

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