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Noms de Scam, Coming to a Phone Near You

August 29, 2019 LauraWattenberg 3 min read No Comments

Rachel from Cardholder Services is a legend. Her robocalled promises to lower credit card interest rates have kept enforcement agencies busy for years. The Federal Trade Commission even has an official Rachel FAQ. But one question it doesn’t answer. Why is she named Rachel? The name wasn’t just a random […]

What Does a Neural Network Think of Your Name?

August 21, 2019 LauraWattenberg 4 min read 3 Comments

What if you could tap into society’s psyche and see how names frame our collective mental narratives? Now, perhaps you can. An artificial intelligence engine paves the way. Talktotransformer.com lets any user harness the power of a neural network system trained to write text. Just enter the beginning of a […]

Shockingly Rare Names for Girls

August 13, 2019 LauraWattenberg 2 min read 2 Comments

It’s no secret that Jill is no longer the height of baby-name fashion. The name’s all-time peak was back in 1966. But would you have guessed Jill was more old-fashioned than Dorcas? More unusual than Zerenity? Baby name statistics tell us that’s reality. Jill may still sound comfortably familiar, but […]

These Names Are Right Back Where They Started

August 6, 2019 LauraWattenberg 2 min read No Comments

50 years later, they’re just where they started out. The names Althea, Elvis and Trevor are exactly as popular today as they were in 1969. That makes them, by one measure, the most stable possible names over the past half century. But the two-point snapshot of stability doesn’t tell the […]

Forgive Me, Eleanor

July 30, 2019 LauraWattenberg 2 min read 3 Comments

I have a confession to make. It has been weighing on me, a dreadful little tingle of guilt every time I look at the new 4th edition of the Baby Name Wizard book. Now it’s time to come clean and try to make amends. Readers, I left out Eleanor. It’s […]

Where Are the Classic Names Now?

July 23, 2019 Namerology 2 min read 1 Comment

The mighty have fallen. The names that ruled over the English-speaking world for centuries have been deposed, and I can prove it with a single chart. Take a look at this past vs. present view of some classic names, 1900 vs. 2018: The 2018 column shows the number of American […]

Confessions of a Too-Good Email Address

July 18, 2019 Namerology 3 min read 4 Comments

My Hungarian Fishing License has been processed. I should arrive 15 minutes before my scheduled doctor’s appointment in Bogotá. My flight to São Paulo is ready for online check-in. Not to brag, but I have a pretty great email address. I was on Gmail early and managed to grab a […]

A Tale of Two Halles

July 10, 2019 Namerology 2 min read 1 Comment

It was the “huh?” heard ’round the world. For half a day, reports spread that actress Halle Berry had been cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The response was global bafflement. Some was surely directed at Berry’s race (though “outrage” over a black Ariel turned […]

Why Do Incels Obsess Over Chad and Stacy?

July 2, 2019 LauraWattenberg 5 min read 5 Comments
Photo of jock, cheerleader and nerd movie stereotypes

How do you name an archetype? An idealized concept should feel realer than reality, summing up your whole image of a slice of the world. Whatever name you choose, it will reveal a lot about your worldview. That’s certainly the case with the online subculture of “incels” and the two […]

U and I, uu and ii

June 26, 2019 LauraWattenberg 2 min read 11 Comments
Wii and JUUL packages

Aa is for Aaron, oo is for Cooper, ee is for Lee. Traditionally, that’s as far as doubled vowels go. The letters u and i just don’t double up in American English, in words or in names. At least, they didn’t. In this, generation, ii names have taken hold. The […]

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