Call it the redundancy of crowds. A few years ago, all the cool startups wanted baby-talk names: Meemo, Meebo, Bebo, ooVoo, Kwout, YooGuu, Doof, Thoof. Not in 2011: this is the year of naming adverbially. Some of the adverbish domains use the Libyan country code, .ly; others are .coms that incorporate –ly into their names. There are a lot of them, and what may have seemed like a clever idea at first—verbs! action! it’s how we do stuff!—is looking like a sad insufficiency of imagination.
The curious thing about naming trends is that none of the responsible parties ever thinks his name is a trend-follower. Oh no, every name is a true original! And ours is the best! Sure enough, when I singled out a few –ly names on Twitter, I got copycat responses: “But our name is cute!” “At least __ly has a double meaning!” “__ly is a great name! And we are dot com, not dot ly!” Sigh.
If you’re considering an –ly name for your new business, perhaps this list of 27 –ly names will convince you that it’s not very distinctive after all. By the way, I’ve omitted the –ly names already at the bottom of the dead pool: Slantly, Quotably, Smak.ly, Seriesly, et al.
Adly pairs advertisers with celebrities who use Twitter.
Ambiently says (clumsily) that it “semantically connects webpages of similar or related meanings together.”
Bit.ly is a URL shortener.
Brizzly is a reader for Twitter and Facebook. The company’s mascot is a cartoon bear, so I’m guessing the name has something to do with “grizzly.”
Creately does online diagramming and collaboration.
Estately is a home-listings website.
Farm.ly sends alerts to FarmVille users (players? growers?), telling them when it’s time to harvest their “crops.”
FounderLY is “committed to promoting entrepreneurship by way of sharing startup founder stories.”
Fuelly lets you “share and compare your MPG.”
Letter.ly (also Letterly.net) is “the simple way to publish email subscription newsletters.” The company got into trouble earlier this year with the Libyan government when it neglected to renew its .ly domain. (.ly is the country code of Libya.)
Ow.ly is another a link shortener.
Planely connects you with people on your flight who are registered with Planely.
Scheduly does online appointment scheduling.
Score.ly is “the only free way to showcase online milestones and legitimate real world achievements.”
Shoply is “the social shopping marketplace.”
Smel.ly is “the minimal complaint toolkit.” Log in to Twitter to vent.
Snapily is “a cool new way to affix your pix to customized greeting cards, business cards, notebooks, and more.”
Startuply publishes job listings for startup companies.
Teamly is “a tool used by hundreds of businesses and thousands of individuals to improve their performance in the workplace.”
Todo.ly is an online to-do list and task manager. “To-do list” suggests one pronunciation of Todo.ly, but I can’t say for sure whether it’s meant to sound more like “totally.”
Twingly is “a powerful group communication and microblogging tool in the era of the realtime web.” From the spelling, you’d think it was a Twitter app, but it isn’t: it’s a rival service.
Twitly is a Twitter app for organizing the people you follow into groups. (Possibly defunct.)
Visual.ly is a site for designing, sharing, and promoting infographics.
UPDATE, Aug. 24: It’s been less than a week and there are already two new -lys on the block: Forkly is an iPhone app that “shows you where to go and what's tasty there.” And Erply has nothing to with gastric distress: It's a provider of customized ERP (enterprise resource planning) “solutions.”
My investigation did unearth one –ly name that’s interesting, distinctive, and authentic: Doorly. No, it’s not a door manufacturer; it’s the personal website of one Sean Doorly, who kindly provides some background about his surname:
The Irish surname Doorly is the Anglicization of the Old Gaelic surname O’Doghair [!], which is a surname belonging chiefly to counties Kerry, Limerick and South Tipperary. The name was not anglicized until the seventeenth century when there was a recommendation by the British authorities that all be names be written in English, so as to make registration easier. This surname can be traced to a powerful French family who settled in Ireland during the tenth century. They were the Dore sept, whose names was of local origin, deriving from the name of the dwelling place or locality where a bearer once lived.