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A Town Called Emily?

July 7, 2020 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 16 Comments

My hometown has three colleges, a proud literary heritage, and a really sketchy name. Amherst, Massachusetts was named in 1759 by a colonial governor in honor of Lord Jeffrey Amherst. Lord Jeffrey was a British commander during the French and Indian war whose military techniques included biological warfare and genocide. […]

Who Is Karen Now?

June 29, 2020 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 4 Comments
Photo of woman in foggy silhouette

Three years ago, I wrote that the Karen had become the go-to name for an “everywoman” in comedy. Six months ago, I wrote that Karen had evolved into a derogatory term for entitled white, middle-aged women who insist on talking to the manager. Three weeks ago, I wrote that the […]

Brand Curse: The Name Jemima in America

June 19, 2020 LauraWattenberg 6 min read 9 Comments
Vintage print ad showing "mammy" figure with pancakes, and a description of "old-time plantation flavor"

This week the Aunt Jemima pancake brand name was “retired,” bringing an end to a 131-year advertising minstrel show. The brand’s current owner, Quaker, finally bowed to the reality that no cosmetic makeover could rehabilitate a character, and business, built on a romanticized fantasy of owning human beings as property. […]

Implicit Bias in Names: An Unintentional Case Study

June 15, 2020 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 7 Comments

As our nation confronts the massive toll of systemic racism, a viral video on the subject has been viewed millions of times. In simple animation, the video presents two hypothetical American boys, one white and one black. The two characters become avatars of the multigenerational effects of privilege on one […]

Let’s Close Read the Animal Crossing Names

May 22, 2020 Namerology 4 min read No Comments
Animal Crossing: Tom-Nook

As we speak, millions of people are sheltering at home on remote islands with only animals for company. And those animals have names. The Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons serves up a much-needed escape, a cheery world with a cast of cartoon critters. A glance at their cherubic faces, […]

Explore the Ultimate US Name Map

May 7, 2020 Namerology 1 min read 12 Comments
Map showing state-by-state popularity of names ending in -TT

Interested in names, and America? Roll up your sleeves. Namerology’s new interactive map of the United States lets you explore name style from coast to coast, and from Aaden to Zyra. Just start typing letters in the search box on the upper left, and the map will instantly show you […]

Naming in Hard Times

April 21, 2020 LauraWattenberg 5 min read 2 Comments
Photos of a Depression breadline, a WWI "keep calm and carry on" sign and a 2020 "stay home" alert sign

What will baby names look like for the rest of 2020? It’s a deeper question than it may seem, because names are more than just fashion statements. They’re reflections of parents’ attitudes and obsessions, hopes and dreams. That makes names a barometer of a nation’s state of mind—especially in a […]

21 Names You Will Never, Ever Name Your Dog

March 31, 2020 LauraWattenberg 1 min read 11 Comments
Morose dog named Keith

You might think that when you’re naming a dog, anything goes. But in reality, there are limits. Some names are exclusively human. Doubt it? Just try to picture going to the park and hearing dog owners calling out these names. SuzanneKeithMartinCherylJeanineBrianLawrenceBrendaStevenDianeEileenGlennSharonJudithMarkSusanEricaRaymondElaineKennethDenise “Fetch, Suzanne! Heel, Steven!” Not likely, is it? All […]

All-Name Crossword #2

March 25, 2020 Namerology 1 min read 11 Comments

This brand-new Namerology crossword features a single name running down the center with few crossing clues. It’s the most popular name in the entire puzzle. As always, if you get stuck on a particular clue you can choose a square and click the “reveal letter” button. View the solution Also […]

Can You Win a Name Madness Bracket?

March 19, 2020 LauraWattenberg 1 min read 9 Comments
Image of a March Madness-style baby name "playoff bracket"

What is March without a playoff bracket? Baby names to the rescue! Try Namerology’s Name Madness, a one-minute game that challenges your sense of name style. For each pairing, just click on the name that you think is more popular right now. Every name in the bracket , no matter […]

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