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Vintage photo of man with huge white mustache

Handlebar Mustache Names for Boys

August 14, 2020 LauraWattenberg 1 min read 2 Comments

Today’s name set sits at the intersection of classic, manly and over-the-top. These names push so far into old-time formality that they emerge on the other side with a sense of fun. Picture them with a handlebar mustache, a top hat, and…could that be a wink? Like the mustaches themselves, […]

Photos of Karen Bass, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Val Demings and Kamala Harris

The Vice-Presidential Name Field, 2020

August 8, 2020 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 3 Comments

As Joe Biden has vetted prospective VP candidates, the leading names have been analyzed and dissected in the media in every imaginable way. Every way but one, that is: the names themselves. Because while the nominee is expected to be ground-breaking—likely the first woman of color on a major ticket—the […]

Why Every Regency Romance Hero is Named Sebastian

July 29, 2020 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 3 Comments

He’s a duke, he’s a rake, he’s a Sebastian. Welcome to the world of Regency romance. At Goodreads.com you can find an entire list of Regency Romances with Heroes Named Sebastian: “For all those Regency romances with heroes named Sebastian, because god almighty aren’t there a lot??” But even that […]

Vintage photo of woman in jewels and fur

Names Fit for a Grande Dame

July 18, 2020 LauraWattenberg 1 min read 8 Comments

To heck with restraint. Today, we’re looking for female names that demand 100% of the spotlight—and 100% of your respect. Names that leave you impressed, maybe even a little intimidated. Maximalist, not minimalist. Womanly, not girlish. Not delicate flowers, but grandes dames. These names won’t necessarily be an easy sell […]

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. […]

Photo of woman in foggy silhouette

Who Is Karen Now?

June 29, 2020 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 4 Comments

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 […]

Vintage print ad showing "mammy" figure with pancakes, and a description of "old-time plantation flavor"

Brand Curse: The Name Jemima in America

June 19, 2020 LauraWattenberg 6 min read 10 Comments

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 8 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 […]

Animal Crossing: Tom-Nook

Let’s Close Read the Animal Crossing Names

May 22, 2020 Namerology 4 min read No Comments

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, […]

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