Laura at the Baby Name Wizard blog is accepting nominations for the 2006 name of the year. As she takes pains to point out, the name of the year isn't necessarily a popular baby name--it can be a name that dominates the headlines, like "Monica" in 1998 or "Katrina" in 2005. The winner will be announced in the blog in a couple of weeks.
Laura asks her readers:
What name do you think captures the spirit of '06? Do you suddenly know half a dozen babies named Atticus? Do you hear Akon songs everywhere you turn? Are you considering naming your first born after Nancy Pelosi?
Well, of course I find that last suggestion utterly beguiling, but probably unlikely. It's not only that "Nancy" was overexposed during the Eisenhower era and disastrously associated with Nancy Sinatra. It's also that the time-honored tradition of naming a child after a person of achievement and substance--a departed family member, a scientist, a saint, or a public servant--is alien to modern parents, who prefer to name babies after characters on television shows or the babies of the actors who play those characters. That is, if they name their babies after anyone: these days, being "original" in baby-naming (which often means coming up with a bizarrely spelled, gender-indeterminate, barely pronounceable word) trumps custom and common sense.
"Addison" (hugely popular because--surprise!--it's the name of a female character on Grey's Anatomy) and all those celebrity-aping -ayden names (Kayden, Caden, Jayden) seem to be commenters' favorites on BNW. Personally, though, I'm with commenter Angela, who wrote:
Borat is definitely the name of the year for 2006 - who had heard of that name before this year, and who hasn't heard of it now?
Elsewhere in BLANK-of-the-year contests, "truthiness" was named the 2006 word of the year by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. M-W is a little slow on the draw; back in January the American Dialect Society named "truthiness" its 2005 word of the year. The word was coined by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's Colbert Report to describe (as the ADS puts it) "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."
And this just in: University of Illinois linguistics and English professor Dennis Baron has selected his own 2006 word of the year (well, two words): "roadside bomb."
Roadside bombs deserve special recognition this year because in a relatively short time they have carved out a deep niche – actually a scar – in our lexicon. Roadside bombs explode regularly in the news as well as by the roadside. They’ve made the headlines on twenty-eight of the past thirty days, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a roadside bomb on today’s front page.
It’s the pervasive roadside bombs, car bombs, and suicide bombers, not WMD’s, that are actually killing people in Iraq. One third of all the coalition troop fatalities in Iraq since the start of the war were caused by roadside bombs, and they’re presently causing half the deaths in that country. ...