Old English nama, noma "name, reputation," from Proto-Germanic *naman- (source also of Old Saxon namo, Old Frisian nama, Old High German namo, German Name, Middle Dutch name, Dutch naam, Old Norse nafn, Gothic namo "name"), from PIE root *no-men- "name."
Meaning "a famous person" is from 1610s. Meaning "one's reputation" is from c. 1300. As a modifier meaning "well-known," first attested 1938. Name brand is from 1944; name-calling "the use of opprobrious epithets" is attested from 1846; name-dropper first recorded 1947. Name-tag is from 1903; name-child attested from 1845. The name of the game "the essential thing or quality" is from 1966; to have one's name in lights "be a famous performer" is from 1929.
He who once a good name gets,
May piss a bed, and say he sweats.
["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
WHEN dunces call us fools without proving us to be so, our best retort is to prove them to be fools without condescending to call them so. [The Rev. C.C. Colton, "Lacon: or Many Things in Few Words," London, 1823]
Old English namian "to name, call; nominate, appoint," from Proto-Germanic *nōmōjanan (source also of Old Saxon namon, Old Frisian nomia "to name, call," Middle Dutch noemen, namen), from the source of name (n.). Related: Named; naming.