In his conception of the semantics of proper names, Russell combines, in his typical fashion, philosophy of language and epistemology. The resulting theory is fairly complex and difficult to reconstruct. The paper does not purport to give an exhaustive reconstruction of Russell’s theory, but only to answer the central question: in which cases do ordinary proper names abbreviate definite descriptions? The primary aim of the paper is to show that the “orthodox” interpretation, according to which all ordinary proper names abbreviate descriptions, is correct. The secondary aim is to demonstrate the falsity of an alternative interpretation, according to which there are two kinds of meaning of proper names: private and public.