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I don't understand why we can use "after" to say "in honor of".

example:

"The character Willie Scott in Temple of Doom was named after Steven Spielberg's dog"

instead of

"The character Willie Scott in Temple of Doom was named in honor of Steven Spielberg's dog".

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    After has been used in the sense of following a leader or a model or precedent for more than 700 years. The dog had the name first, that's all. It makes a lot more sense than "in honor of" - how is the dog honored by naming a ditzy damsel-in-distress after him? Jul 12, 2014 at 20:17
  • NOAD describes this meaning of after as "in allusion to (someone or something with the same or a related name)." This seems related to (but not necessarily quite the same as) "in honor of."
    – J.R.
    Jul 12, 2014 at 20:59

2 Answers 2

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I would just accept it as an expression, a figure of speech. “Named after” as a single unit has that meaning. Period. No “why” necessary. (🤫 It doesn’t actually make perfect sense, despite many saying it does.)

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As Stoney has pointed out, after just means following. Typically, you name something after something else to honor it, but not necessarily. For example, you might have a dog that you found stupid and named it "Knothead." You might then name a dog you found equally stupid after this dog, also calling him Knothead. If were to say that you named him in honor of the first Knothead, you would be doing so sarcastically or humorously.

I am named after General Robert E. Rodes, CSA. If I wanted to clearly convey that this was done as a compliment to the general, I would say that I am named in honor of him.

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