My annual list of brand names that stood out in 2021 is now live on the Visual Thesaurus. To read the column you’ll have to subscribe—or wait for the three-month paywall to lift and risk being way behind the times.
There’s a little bit of overlap with my Words of the Year list, published yesterday, but plenty of new stuff, too. Here’s a free excerpt from the Entertainment section:
Games were on our minds in 2021. In January, a struggling chain of brick-and-mortar video-game stores called GameStop became famous when a group of mischievous day traders, noticing that big Wall Street hedge funds had shorted the chain’s stock, began buying it and driving up its price, from $4 a share to $150. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk got in on the fun, punnily tweeting about “Gamestonk.” (What’s a stonk? Read my explanation.)
A grimmer game caught our attention in November, when Netflix debuted the dystopian Korean drama series “Squid Game.” The title refers to a real-life children’s game popular in South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, in which the playing field resembles the body of a squid. By November, the show had become the streaming network’s most-watched series. The Korean title, “Ojing-eo Geim,” imports geim directly from English; the Japanese translation, Ika gēmu—a candidate for Japanese word of the year for 2021—also borrows the English word.