When did it happen?

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
When did we humans start giving our animals names?

I have no idea.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Math Is Hard
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,527
28
Do you mean categorical classification names like "cat" or "cow", or individual names for animals we keep around for service/companionship (e.g. "Fido" or "Fluffy")?
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
Hah! I can't believe I just edited your post. I haven't pulled that one in a long time.

Fluffy, Fido, my little princess, etc. :biggrin:

I don't think I have ever seen a reference to this. Maybe it goes all the way back to grunts and groans?
 
Last edited:
  • #4
Math Is Hard
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,527
28
I remember reading that the prophet Mohammed had a favorite cat named Muezza, but I would guess it goes at least as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilizations. I would think that if we could find some record of humans keeping animals for service rather than for consumption that might be a good indication of the beginnings, since we tend to not name animals that could end up on the dinner table. :smile:
 
Last edited:
  • #5
459
7
We may have been giving names to animals before they were even domesticated. some examples of undomesticated animals that would need names are, that clever racoon that steals scraps of food from the camp when nobody is paying attention, the inquisitive lone wolf that follows the hunters, the spectacularly large and ferocious beast that threatens the community. It's easier to just say 'Bob' rather than 'the clever racoon that steals food from our camp' every time one refers to that individual animal. At what point did language and social development become sophisticated enough that we start giving children names? I would guess that is roughly the same time we started naming animals.
 
  • #6
6,265
1,280
I remember reading that the prophet Mohammed had a favorite cat named Muezza, but I would guess it goes at least as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilizations. I would think that if we could find some record of humans keeping animals for service rather than for consumption that might be a good indication of the beginnings, since we tend to not name animals that could end up on the dinner table. :smile:
I don't know about service animals, but I'm sure that as soon as they began to be kept as pets, as such, they got named. The distinction between a service animal and a pet can often be a blurry one, though.
 
  • #7
wolram
Gold Member
4,267
557
I would think giving milking animals names would be a good idea, it would be far easier to say daisy is the best milker than trying to describe the animal.
 
  • #8
918
16
My guess is that it happened soon after language itself began. Here is a site that doesn't answer the question, but has some related information.
Dog Story
It seems that by the time we were civilized enough to write stuff down, we were naming our pets.
 
  • #9
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,930
2,421
When did we humans start giving our animals names?

I have no idea.
As soon as there was more than one in a household?
 
  • #10
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,490
52
...since we tend to not name animals that could end up on the dinner table. :smile:
Actually, I know one person who does name his cattle that are raised for meat...but they get names like "Steak" and "Tasty" and "Sir Loin." :rofl: I've never heard someone do that before. But, as much as we caution people not to give names to the research flock to avoid getting too attached, I've noticed that their numbers get used just as if it were a name by some of the students: "Oh doesn't 123 have the cutest little fuzzy face?." :rolleyes: Though, I always find it amusing to dig through old literature in animal sciences. As much as the older papers used to have much more formal language (entirely in the third person passive voice, avoidance of pronouns..."the cow" instead of "she"), you'll find that the animal identifications are NOT as formalized. Nowadays, every animal gets an ID number upon arrival, and that number is logged, along with any previous ID numbers it came in with, and all this is tracked so you have some history of where an animal has come from and what its final disposition is. Back then, you'd get papers where they'd refer to the research animals as "Daisy," and "Muffin."

But, I do wonder if the use of names for animals was first to identify individuals in a flock to keep track of the flock and their production, or if it originated with animals being kept more as companion animals.
 
  • #11
Danger
Gold Member
9,607
246
we start giving children names
You name your children?! Why can't you just tatoo numbers in their ears like the rest of us? :grumpy:
 
  • #12
918
16
we tend to not name animals that could end up on the dinner table.
This reminds me of a book that my parents had called Don't Get Perconal with a Chicken. The title refers to a letter written by a child, admonishing people not to form personal relationships with farm animals that they may someday have to eat.
 
  • #13
Danger
Gold Member
9,607
246
I had a couple of pet pigs when I was a kid. Somehow, their demise didn't adversely affect my love of bacon.
 

Related Threads on When did it happen?

  • Last Post
2
Replies
32
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
22
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
Replies
17
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
28
Views
4K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
Top