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proper noun

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proper noun

Examples of proper nouns. (See Examples and Observations, below.)

Definition:

A noun belonging to the class of words used as names for unique individuals, events, or places. Contrast with common noun.

Most proper nouns (for example, Fred, New York, Mars, Coca Cola) begin with a capital letter. Proper nouns are not usually preceded by articles or other determiners. Most proper nouns are singular.


See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight."
    (Juliette G. Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America, 1912)


  • "It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."
    (Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Copper Beeches")


  • "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live on in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
    (President Franklin D. Roosevelt)


  • "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
    (Albert Einstein)


  • "Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life rafts."
    (Eugene McCarthy)


  • "Some kids dream of joining the circus, others of becoming a major league baseball player. As a member of the New York Yankees, I've gotten to do both."
    (Graig Nettles)


  • "Nothing is wrong with California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn't cure."
    (Ross MacDonald)


  • "You are Omaticaya now. You may make your bow from the wood of Hometree. And you may choose a woman. We have many fine women. Ninat is the best singer."
    (Neytiri in Avatar, 2009)


  • Unique Reference
    "From a linguistic perspective, it makes more sense to say that a proper noun is a noun that has unique reference. It is this that distinguishes them from common nouns, which do not have unique reference (that is why they are common nouns). By way of illustration, consider the following sentence; notice that it contains three nouns, one proper noun, and two common nouns:
    (23) Seoul is one of the largest cities on the planet.
    What distinguishes Seoul, as a proper noun, from the two common nouns, cities and planet? The answer is unique reference. While there are many thousands of cities in the world, and the universe contains more planets than we can possibly know, on the planet we inhabit there is only one city to which the noun can be appropriately applied. This is not always the case. In fact, very few proper nouns have absolutely unique reference in the way that Seoul does. More often, a proper noun has unique reference only within particular, much more limited context. For example, in the United Kingdom there is only one city called Lincoln. Thus, in the context of a discussion about Britain this proper noun has unique reference. However, in the USA there are several towns and cities with this name. As a result, speakers will often have to specify which Lincoln they have in mind by appending the name of the relevant state: 'Lincoln, Nebraska,' 'Lincoln, Michigan,' et cetera."
    (Martin J. Endley, Linguistic Perspectives on English Grammar. Information Age, 2010)
Also Known As: proper name
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