Wordplay isn’t a requirement for a successful name; most of the time, in fact, attempts at punning fall flat or try too hard. So it’s my pleasure to share some names that are both amusing and effective. Coincidentally, all of these names belong to small businesses or blogs.
Les Cent Culottes. The name of this high-end San Francisco boutique, which specializes in French lingerie, is a bilingual pun. It means “the hundred knickers,” but it’s also a homophone of “les sans-culottes”—“those without knee breeches”—the term coined during the French Revolution to describe the rebellious underclass, whose members wore long pantaloons instead of aristocratic knee-length ones. I love the charming tricolor logo . . .
. . . but something bothers me: With their stuff selling for an average of $125 per lacy underthing, couldn’t Les Cent Culottes afford a more attractive web design? And hasn’t someone told them that in the United States, the dollar sign precedes the amount? Zut alors!
Velveteen Rabbi. Rachel Barenblat, a rabbinical student in Lanesboro, Massachusetts, confesses on her About page that she borrowed her blog’s clever name—a play on the title of the classic children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit—from a cartoon by Jennifer Berman. (It’s also the source of Barenblat’s tagline: “When can I run and play with the real rabbis?”) “Over the years since I first found it,” Barenblat writes, “the postcard has become shorthand for how I see myself, at least as far as Judaism is concerned.” Barenblat’s thoughtful, witty writing earned her a spot on Time magazine’s first annual blog index, in 2008. She’ll be ordained in January 2011, but I hope she keeps her blog’s wonderful name even after she becomes “real.”
Male-Pattern Boldness. I’m pretty sure I discovered this blog through Already Pretty, Sally McGraw’s well-written blog about style, body image, and a lot more. (Already Pretty is a very good name, too, but it’s not a pun. Sorry, Sally!) I love the chutzpah of “Male-Pattern Boldness” and I get a big kick out of its subtitle: “Proud to be the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog!” Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the blogger, Peter Lappin, is a terrific writer. And bald.
Achtuning. So what would you call an auto shop that services German cars? The logo substitutes an exclamation mark for the “i,” but I’m oddly OK with that. The shop’s in Redmond, Washington, which probably means lots of Microsoft business.
Pride and Pedigree. This dog-day-care/grooming business in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood takes its lofty name from Jane Austen, whose writing may also have inspired the 19th-century capitalization style: “Our Handling and Care philosophy includes the application of Training Methods that complement the life skills and polite behavior you are practicing at home.” P and P could have been pushed the tongue-in-cheek humor a little further, in this Reader’s considered Opinion, but on the whole, good dog!