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Share Your Pick for the 2023 Name of the Year

November 15, 2023 namerology 24 Comments

Share Your Pick for the 2023 Name of the Year

November 15, 2023 Namerology 24 Comments
Nominate now: NOTY (Name of the Year)

A single name can convey a world of information. Sometimes it can even capture an entire moment in time: a trend, a shift, a conflict, a celebration. What name should represent 2023 as Name of the Year?

Perhaps you found yourself talking and thinking about a particular name. Perhaps a new name was created or chosen, or an old name evolved or took on new meanings. It doesn’t even have to be a baby name per se. Past honorees have included symbolic names, brand names, and viral jokes as well as names of actual babies. But a human-style name should be the focal point, reflecting the role of names in our society.

Please nominate names, second others’ nominations, and discuss your thinking in the comments here! 

Some criteria to consider as you ponder:

  • How central is the name to the story?
  • How has the name changed or emerged in 2023?
  • How does the name story connect to broader trends, in names or in the world?

Let the name talk begin!


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  • holey
    holey November 16, 2023 at 12:14 pm

    Barbie. For quite a while this year it was impossible to look through my news feed without seeing at least one story on the darn movie. For decades “Barbie” has been a symbol of unrealistic beauty standards and so on. The lyrics of “Barbie Girl” do a pretty good job of explaining what you’d be implying about a woman if you referred to her as “Barbie.” The movie has suddenly given the Barbie image a feminist makeover.

  • Elizabeth November 16, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    To riff on the Barbie suggestion, which I think is excellent, I’d like to submit Barbenheimer for consideration. Barbenheimer is more than just a mash up of the main characters’ (and movies’ titles) names. It works because it signals not just a brilliant marketing strategy, but also because of the dissonance between the movies’ themes. It caused us all to think more critically about the themes of two films that seemed like total opposites — the frisson turned the movies’ premier into an event and into a national conversation. To conflate the atomic age with feminism is indeed mind blowing!

  • Namerology
    Namerology November 16, 2023 at 4:15 pm

    Sharing a nomination posted to Twitter:

    “As much as I would like it to be Barbie, it is probably Ken, and that is Kenough.”

  • Catherine November 19, 2023 at 3:02 am

    I think Taylor should be considered-Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour was one of the biggest events of the year, the re-releases of her albums were huge, and of course her new relationship with Travis Kelce is all over the headlines. Her name was literally everywhere!

    • Marti December 5, 2023 at 9:03 pm

      The specific name is not at all important to this story, though: if Taylor’s parents had named her, say, Robin, the story would be exactly the same, just with the labels changed.

      • Elizabeth December 7, 2023 at 4:02 am

        Robin Swift — a tie in to the story about the birds’ new names! 😉

  • Talia November 19, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Margot. It’s been everywhere this year on baby name forums, likely due to Margot Robbie starring in Barbie which was huge culturally this year. Margot also showcases many of the name trends of the early 2020s.

  • Nina November 19, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    My nomination for name of the year is: all the birds.

    In November 2023, the American Ornithological Society released a statement announcing their commitment to changing the English names of all birds in their jurisdiction that are currently named after people. Certain names had drawn criticism in the past for their connection to individuals who participated in racism and colonialism. This type of controversy is not new. From buildings to army bases to towns, activists have argued that names carry legacies of violence into the present. The AOS’s statement is a new type of decision. Instead of pinning the blame on specific names, they identify the entire process of naming as the issue. In their own words:

    “In 2022, the AOS ad hoc English Bird Names Committee was tasked with the considerable challenge of recommending the criteria for determining which bird names should be changed and how best to implement the process of changing them. After more than a year’s work and careful deliberation, the committee has produced a detailed report recommending that the best course of action would be to change all English names within the AOS’s jurisdiction that were named after people… Criteria for identifying which historical figures had done harm would be culturally influenced, leaving any attempted standardization inherently open to bias and disagreement. Any effort to make such judgments on past and present human figures would invariably be fraught with difficulty and negativity and become an unwelcome public and scientific distraction. 

    The committee also viewed the recommendation for changing eponymous English bird names as a tremendous positive opportunity to broaden participation in ornithology and bird conservation by involving the public in the process of choosing replacement names, and the AOS Council agrees.”

    This is a story not about one name, but about naming. What values, hopes, and memories do names impart? Is it appropriate to name a bird the way you would own a human? And who gets to choose names in the first place?

    • Evie
      Evie November 19, 2023 at 10:14 pm

      Oooh I love this idea!!

    • holey
      holey November 20, 2023 at 3:59 am

      It’s certainly an interesting question. In a way it seems sort of creepy and dystopian: All names have the potential to be bad, because at any given time we may adjudge any given human to be bad, and then that person’s name must never again be uttered except to condemn it.

      On the other hand…we humans are the ones who come up with names for things anyway, and it’s really just for convenience, so that we don’t always have to refer to a bird species as “the kind with white feathers and a red crest that makes a ululating cry in mating season” or whatever. So if, as a group, we decide we don’t like the name we have for something, why NOT change it?

      This ties in, too, with a point Laura has made before, about how people are much less prone nowadays to name their children after politicians, because there’s a decent chance that the namesake politician will later turn out to be awful.

      • Elizabeth November 20, 2023 at 2:51 pm

        I would love it if the ornithologists started giving the birds human first names instead of human surnames. Why not call a subset of peacocks the Edmund peacocks? It would be super fun to see what characteristics they thought matched the birds’ physiology and behavior, wouldn’t it?

        • holey
          holey November 20, 2023 at 7:15 pm

          It’s better than naming hurricanes after people! I still feel sorry for anyone named Katrina.

          I guess first names for birds would get tricky, too, since so many given names are also surnames. But I bet I’d really like an Edmund peacock.

    • HungarianNameGeek
      HungarianNameGeek November 24, 2023 at 4:02 pm

      This is an interesting story, but I’m not sure it’s suited to being Name of the Year, not just because it isn’t any specific name, but also because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who was today years old when she learned of it. It doesn’t characterize or evoke the year 2023 at all. In other words, it’s neither a “Name” nor “of the Year”.
      But wow, thank you for making me aware of this. It’s fascinating.

  • Abby November 19, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    I’m voting Kelce. First, like so many people I know, I am freshly aware of the Kelce brothers because Taylor. (She rewrote her lyrics for him! I am way too grown-up to be so starry-eyed about that, but still … swoon.) Second, I’m intrigued by the way it follows other football surname names like Brady, BUT it also picks up on the Yellowstone love of Kayce, a spelling that rocketed into the US Top 1000 last year.

  • Wendy November 19, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    I’m going to suggest “Twitter”. Since Musk’s move to rename the platform from something well-known and recognizable to a single letter that already has many, many connotations and associations in the world has left everyone fumbling with how to refer to it, and the content on it (Are they still tweets? Do we refer to them as exes now?). This misguided attempt at re-branding can be seen as representative of how out of touch billionaires are with society as a whole. A toast to The-Platform-Formerly-Known-As-Twitter!

    • Diana November 19, 2023 at 8:28 pm

      I am sad to say that I am nominating “Elon”. His name is everywhere, from blowing up rockets AND Twitter, to the ruckus of his political views. It well reflects the uncertainty and chaos of this year.

      • Simon K November 19, 2023 at 10:18 pm

        Since Barbie, Ken and Barbenheimer have all had nominations already, I’m going to stand up for Allan. Since the release of the Barbie movie I’ve seen a fair few gay men happily describing themselves as “an Allan”.

    • HungarianNameGeek
      HungarianNameGeek November 24, 2023 at 4:09 pm

      I second this nomination, but also suggest Xitter as an alternative that combines the “before” and “after” in a way that expresses the opinion of many.
      (That’s how people mostly refer to it now in the online communities I participate in. Nobody in them ever much used “tweet”, so there’s no replacement for that needed, but I’m pretty sure that if there were such a need, we’d be using “xeet”: akin to “yeet”.)

    • Hannah November 26, 2023 at 9:27 am

      I’ve yet to see a newsarticle refering to a tweet that doesn’t say ‘posted on X, formerly known as twitter’. It’s the only sensible way to do it!

  • M November 23, 2023 at 2:31 am

    I think X would work as well- it’s what Musk calls his son.

    • holey
      holey November 26, 2023 at 11:53 pm

      Building off this and the Xitter suggestion, it certainly seems entirely typical of Musk’s egotism that he would basically try to commandeer an entire letter of the alphabet to be the name of his platform.

      Xitter is also making me think of the newish term “Latinx.” That term bugs me a little, not because I object to gender neutrality, but because it’s such an awkward choice. Why not Latine? So many well-intentioned renamings are let down by being awfully clunky.

      Anyway, I don’t have a totally well-thought-out line of reasoning here, but you and the other commenters have made me think about the recent use of X in naming.

  • MeganW November 24, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    For an honerable mention, how about Jack Smith? While working on a high profile case, he’s worked hard to stay out of the limelight, and is helped along by an utterly forgettable name. I don’t think his name-i-ness rises above either birds or any of the Barbie-Oppenheimer names though.

  • Sabrina November 28, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    Definitely voting for Barbie/Barbara. Even more so than Ken, the name Barbie *only* existed as a doll name and a very particular type of disparaging girly-girl stereotype. The movie upended all of that baggage in a really interesting way (which additionally got us all saying the name “Barbie” nonstop for a couple of weeks.) And the name Barbara–an extremely unfashionable midcentury relic–has its moment a the end of the film when Margot Robbie checks into to gynecologist’s office as “Barbara Handler”.

  • Stephen (not Steve) December 2, 2023 at 7:27 pm

    I nominate “Hamas”.

    People generally refer to the “Israel-Hamas war”, not “the Gaza Strip war” or “the Israel-Palestine war”, even though people generally refer to “the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, “the Iraq War” or (part of “World War II”) “the Second Sino-Japanese war”. This seems to signify some things about the Israel-Hamas war. It just one part of a longer conflict that has already claimed the name “the Israel-Palestinian conflict”. Especially given the pro-Palestinian protests around the world, it plays better to describe it as a war against a (terrorist) organization than against all Palestinians or even all Gazans.

    Thanks to for prompting this suggestion. The answers to that question generally point against my suggestion, however.

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