Should "live up to their name"(singular) in the below be replaced with "live up to their names"(plural)? The result of Google searching for each phrase shows the former appears twice often than the latter. I guess "live up to one's name" is an idiom, so the natives might prefer their name not their names. It comes at a news clip, https://archive.org/download/KNTV_20220611_013000_NBC_Nightly_News_With_Lester_Holt/KNTV_20220611_013000_NBC_Nightly_News_With_Lester_Holt.mp4?t=807/867&exact=1&ignore=x.mp4

-- Dangerous heat wave --

. . .

Earlier than normal and prolonged heat wave will be an early test for our aging infrastructure. As average temperatures get hotter it seems power grids fail more often. “Unless we really fundamentally rethink the way that we, uh, plan and design and operate our systems, um, it’s going to be more rolling blackouts, longer lasting outages, um and everybody’s going to feel more pain.”

Tonight cause for concern and an early test for the power grid, especially as cities like Death Valley live up to their name. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.

  • It's a stupid sentence to write, so it's not worth bothering with that trivial issue of "grammar". There's no meaningful logic to the words anyway. Feb 15 at 4:33
  • @FumbleFingers I apologize for the brevity of my previous quote, which may have made it difficult to understand the context. I have revised my post for clarity. Feb 16 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


The grammar is wrong, but they are jamming more than one idea into a sentence in a way that makes it hard to correct.

The location living up to its name (singular) is Death Valley. However, several cities (plural) are affected by the heat wave.

Journalists often do things like this to make their texts shorter and livelier. Note also the absence of subject and main verb in that sentence. It's not exactly an error, more that they are willing to sacrifice grammar for style. (Actually, some people will call it an error.) Just be careful if you are using the news to help you learn English.

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    Death Valley is a desert, not a city! Feb 15 at 4:32
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    Even worse. I'll put that in.
    – Evene
    Feb 15 at 5:11
  • Probably, the phrase "live up to their name" means to meet the expectations associated with someone or something based on their reputation or name. So, the above sentence can be understood like: the regions including Death Valley last summer were as hot as their reputation for hot weather and the number of reputations the sentence refers to is singular, so "live up to their name" is right, not "live up to their names." I wonder whether my explanation is correct. Feb 15 at 13:24
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    @JiHyunLee - if Death Valley 'lives up to its name' it must be where lots of people die. Feb 15 at 21:20
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    @Ji Hyun Lee, yes you are right. Reputation would have been a better word for them to use, and 'name' should be singular. But it should be 'its name', not 'their name'. But 'cities' (plural) needs 'their names' (plural). The sentence can't be fixed easily.
    – Evene
    Feb 16 at 22:07

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