I’ll get to the regularly scheduled links in a bit, but I wanted to lead off with some recommendations from my 2019 media diet (a term I’ve borrowed from Jason Kottke, whose blog always makes for tasty consumption).
The Namerology blog picks the defining baby names of the last decade—“The names that were not just hugely popular from 2010-19, but vastly more popular than in decades past…and future. They’re flying high, yet as the ’10s draw to a close they’re already starting to decline from their dizzying popularity peaks.”
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn combed his newspaper’s archives for the first mentions of products, technologies, ideas, and terms that have become part of life since late 2009. His chronological list goes from A (Angry Birds) to Y (YOLO), and includes a bunch of words and brands you read about here first, including showrooming, FOMO, trigger warning, and antifa.
The wildfires have barely been extinguished here in California, but it’s already word-of-the-year season across the pond, where three prominent dictionaries chose words or phrases with a common theme: climate change, or preventing it. Cambridge Dictionary went first, with upcycling: “the activity of making new furniture, objects, etc. out of old or used things or waste material.” Collins Dictionary chose climate strike: “a protest demanding action on climate change.” And Oxford Dictionaries picked climate emergency from an all-environmental shortlist that included “climate action,” “climate denial,” “eco-anxiety,” “extinction” and “flight shame.”
Let the record show that lexicographer Jane Solomon, recently of Dictionary.com, spotted the trend back in September.
Here in the U.S. we’re headed into a long holiday weekend—a friend of mine calls it Interdependence Day, which I like a lot. If your dog hates fireworks and you’re not thrilled with the tinpot-dictator-y look of tanks at the Lincoln Memorial, perhaps you’ll enjoy spending some of your leisure time reading my newest post on Medium. It’s about how I’ve always hated my own name, and how that antipathy led to a career creating names for companies and products. It’s also a love letter to a dictionary.
It’s been almost five years since I wrote about a branding trend I’d noticed: names that began with Ever. There were the classics: Eveready batteries, Everlast sporting goods, Everclear knockout alcohol. There were the new Evers on the block: Everlane for fashion, Evercharge for EV charging (get it?), Everplans for death planning, Evernote for note-taking, Eversnap for photos, Evergage and Everspin for … something else.
Half a decade later, the trend is still trundling along. Exhibit Umpteen is a new restaurant, or restaurant concept—it won’t open till 2020—called simply Ever. Or, more precisely, “Curtis Duffy’s Ever,” Duffy being the Chicago chef who’s opening the joint with general manager Michael Muser. The New York Times food section published a breathless preview this week that included this tidbit about the name:
It would have the best china, they said, the best furniture ever. They’d use ingredients that were fresher, more seasonal than they ever had before. They’d make a meal more elaborate than anyone had ever seen.
Ever: That word just kept coming up. So, they decided, that would be the name.
“It’s this little word, this little four-letter thing that we pack into the most epic experiences of our lives,” Mr. Muser said in a phone interview. “This experience, that we’re going to put in front of everybody, this is our Ever.”
The Ever wordmark, which could be recycled into a drugstore perfume label if the whole $300-to-$500-tasting-menu thing doesn’t work out.
NASA has renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson, the mathematician whose story was told in the book and and subsequent film Hidden Figures. Johnson, who was born in West Virginia, will turn 101 in August.
You can help name some newly discovered moons of Jupiter, but only you follow some restrictive rules. The name “must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word. It can’t be offensive, too commercial, or closely tied to any political, military or religious activities of the past 100 years.” And that’s just the beginning. (Hat tip: Chris Labarthe.)