How do you know when to use nommé or qui s'appelle?

Eg. If I wanted to say I have a dog named Max, which phrasing would I use and why.

1 Answer 1


Nommé is formal and more "official". It is likely to appear in a legal document, a police report (along with dénommé which is often pejorative), or something literary.

Un tramway nommé Désir (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Nommé can also be used to state someone is appointed to a new position:

Edouard Philippe a été nommé Premier Ministre.

In casual speech, qui s'appelle is the phrase to use:

J'ai un chien qui s'appelle Max.

or, if you only have one dog:

Mon chien s'appelle Max.

Using nommé would be understood but is not idiomatic:

*J'ai un chien nommé Max.

  • "Edouard Philippe a été nommé Premier Ministre." is a different meaning (it cannot give "Edouard Philippe s'est appelé Premier Ministre."). Oct 20, 2019 at 9:57
  • @MathieuBouville Yes, that's indeed a different case, the reason why I wrote also. "Nomination" was probably not the best term as it only means being in the short list, not necessarily the one selected.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 20, 2019 at 15:46
  • Nommer is not more formal. It means appoint in English. Except in contexts where it means: named. The streetcar is named Desire.
    – Lambie
    Oct 20, 2019 at 16:22
  • @Lambie I'm not sure to get what you mean. Do you state the French être nommé is not more formal than s'appeller or are you talking about the English verb to name?
    – jlliagre
    Oct 20, 2019 at 16:38
  • In French, there is no parallelism between nommer et s'appeller. In that sense, it is not "more formal". nommer is to name or to appoint, and s'appeller is used for: My name is x. The OP does not realize that. The terms are used in different contexts altogether, just like English. I have a dog named Max, though, would not be nommer. It would be qui s'appelle Max or dont le nom est Max.
    – Lambie
    Oct 20, 2019 at 17:55

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