Understanding variety naming by farmers is important for better understanding crop genetic diversity in farmer fields and its management by farmers. This paper describes variety naming of rice by farmers in The Gambia and presents mechanisms that explain naming diversity and consistency. Three types of variety names can be distinguished, referring to common old varieties, common new varieties, and uncommon varieties. Interview and plant data suggest that variety exchange affects variety naming within villages. As a result, variety names give information on the period of time a variety is used in a village, and on the flow of varieties between and within villages. Name consistency within and between villages results from and illuminates the dynamics of variety exchange within and between villages.