take one's name in vain, to

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take (one's) name in vain

To speak about someone when they are not present, as in a critical manner. The phrase comes from one of the Ten Commandments, which prohibits taking God's name in vain. Hey, I heard that! Don't take my name in vain!
See also: name, take, vain
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

take one's name in vain, to

To mention a person casually and disrespectfully. This expression, today always used jocularly, comes from the biblical commandment against blasphemy: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). It was already used more lightly in the eighteenth century, when Jonathan Swift included it in Polite Conversation (1738): “Who’s that takes my name in vain?”
See also: name, take, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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