The circumstances of a child’s birth define his or her starting point in life, and they will be inscribed in the child’s file, so to speak, by means of a set of rule-governed birth names. These ‘child names’ are perfectly suitable for this initial stage of life, but all Baatɔmbu aspire one day to replace this original set of ‘orthodox’ names by another orthodox name, an inherited title name, corresponding to an achieved social and spiritual status. Commoners and nobles have separate institutions of gɔɔbiru, ‘inherited title names’, but in both cases the successive bearers of a gɔɔbiru share an exemplary essence that each must honour and perpetuate with his life. Baatɔnu nobles bestow baptism names on children around the age of seven, allowing these young candidates for the various gɔɔbiru to be matched, according to their potential, with a name whose influence will guide them into adulthood. Joking names and teknonyms can be classified as non-orthodox or informal names and seem to fill a gap left by the orthodox names, allowing personal and family relations to be expressed and negotiated. These names carry no prestige, but their use affords pride and pleasure and, unlike orthodox names, they can be used without infringing ‘shame’-based taboos.