Feeling romantically challenged this Valentine’s Day? Maybe it’s time to join – or reactivate – that dating-site membership. But before you upload your gently embellished personal details, make sure the service’s name is the perfect match for you. Herewith, my analysis of 10 dating-site names, from dated to dateworthy.
10. Zoosk. I searched in vain for an explanation of this name. (It’s a zoo out there?) I did find this critique on a blog called The Broad’s Side: “I have no clue why anyone would opt to name their online dating site Zoosk. It reminds me of the sound old guys make when they sneeze. ‘Ah..Ah..ZOOSK’.” Hey, not nice about the old guys! But fair sound-symbolism analysis. Grade: D. Screams “We found a cheap domain!”
9. PlentyOfFish. … in the sea, get it? Which is fine if you don’t mind getting fan mail from some flounder. Also, I can’t help parsing the name as plenty offish, and who wants an offish date? On-ish is much better. The URL, by the way, has been shortened to pof.com, which has its own questionable associations, including POS and poof. Grade: C-. Just because it’s distinctive doesn’t mean it’s good.
8. eHarmony. Speaking of dates, here’s one to consider: August 22, 2000. That’s when this company was founded by a 66-year-old psychologist, Neil Clark Warren, who’s now north of 80 and still running the show. The e- prefix is a creaky artifact of that just-before-the-bust era; the Harmony part reflects not only a dating goal but the service’s strict screening protocol: about 20 percent of applicants are rejected on the basis of their answers to a 258-question profile. Grade: C. Dated and stodgy, but inoffensive.
7. jDate. The j stands for Jewish, although plenty of Gentile seekers comparison-shop there, too. The name is memorable to the extent that no competitors use the j prefix, but Date seems like an inadequate fit for a service that calls itself “the Promised Land … of love!” and emphasizes lasting partnerships over fleeting encounters. Grade: C+. It’s short, it has that assonantal-rhyme thing going for it, and it won’t offend your bubbe.
6. Ugly Schmucks. This name, however, is guaranteed to drive Bubbe bonkers. Such language! Points for honesty, though: these guys (and they’re mostly guys) probably aren’t getting any modeling gigs. Grade C: Truth in advertising, plus a little assonantal rhyme.
5. OkCupid. Is it just “Ok” and not “fantastic” because it’s free? And why is the k lower case? And can you say “Ok, Cupid” to your Android phone, the way you’d say “OK, Google”? People abbreviate it OKC, which always makes me wonder what’s up in Oklahoma City. On the other hand, Cupid is cute. Grade: B-. Just OK.
4. Match. The ur-dating site (founded in 1995, when only about 5 percent of Americans had Internet access) has a name that holds up surprisingly well. You can read it as descriptive (making a match) or as metaphorical (strike a match, find your flame). Grade: B. Short, simple, satisfying to say.
3. Dead Meet. Talk about a niche market: this is a site “to enable people in the death industry” – pathologists, funeral organizers, taxidermists, crematorium techs – “to meet like-minded individuals.” It was founded by Carla Valentine – timely tie-in alert! – who’s the curator of a pathology museum in the UK and who has a wonderful Twitter handle: La Petit Mort-ician. I love the candor of Dead, and I appreciate the glum pun on dead meat. But don’t look up dead meat in Urban Dictionary. Grade: B+. I admit it: I’m a pushover for morbid humor. But please, Dead Meet: fix the spelling of your in this sentence: “If you’ve been dying to meet someone who shares you’re interests, you’ve come to the right place!”
2. Hebro. As the name of a site “for gay Jews and the goytoys who love them,” it’s a great blend of irreverent and appealing, of Hebrew and the ubiquitous bro. Grade: A-.
1. Tinder. This is the gamified future of dating: a mobile app, launched in 2012, that dispenses with the personal data and just shows photos (swipe right for a hit, left for a miss). The name was originally Matchbox; it was deemed too close to competitor Match and changed to Tinderbox, then shortened to Tinder. It’s a vivid fire-making metaphor that’s reinforced by the logo, in which a flame dots the i. The company grew out of an incubator at Barry Diller’s IAC, which also owns Match, PlentyOfFish, and OkCupid. Grade: A: a strong metaphor with a crisp sound. Not for nothing, the -er ending suggests comparison.
A profile of Tinder founder Sean Rad, who’s back at the company after being fired when one co-founder accused another of sexual-harassment .
Some of the more offbeat dating sites, including ClownDating and Purrsonals.