The 2019 Deadspin Name of the Year is down to the Elite Eight. Vote for your favorites in a field that includes Pope Thrower, Pretzel Monteclaro, and Jizyah Shorts. Yes, they’re all real names. (Deadspin) For background, see my 2018 Visual Thesaurus column about the tournament.
How great writing begins: an analysis of the opening paragraphs of “the 94 most compelling articles” in The Atlantic, Fast Company, and the New York Times op-ed section. (Better Humans)
In English, it’s “Once upon a time.” How do other cultures and languages begin their classic tales? (Chitra Soundar)
Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana—the youngest and gayest candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination (so far)—also has the coolest campaign logos. (Note: Not a political endorsement.) (Brand New)
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.)
You’re probably heard of babies named after brands: Porsche, Chanel, Armani, and, lest we forget, Tiffany. Now the Baby Name Wizard blog tells us about three baby names from the 1980s and 1990s that were inspired by TV advertising.
“An examination of today’s American skull logos shows a variety of businesses exhibiting crude expressions of menace, juvenile assertions of badassedness, and more than a little fascist iconography.” (Emblemetric)
This month we give thanks for WOTY, dictionaries, diet jargon, naming advice, and more.
Word-of-the-year season kicks off in traditional fashion with the Oxford Dictionaries selection. This year it’s toxic, as in toxic masculinity and toxic chemical. Interestingly, toxic derives from the Greek term for word for “poisoned arrow,” but only the “arrow” part. Toxic won out over other words on the shortlist, including incel, gaslighting,big dick energy, and gammon, the last of which was a Fritinancy word of the week in May. Oxford’s word of the year is “a word of expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.” Read more.
Mountain Dew, the neon-yellow-green soft drink brand owned by PepsiCo, evidently failed to consult anyone in Scotland before it introduced its new ad slogan, “Epic thrills start with a chug.” If it had, it would have learned that chug is Scottish slang for masturbate. (Jelisa Castrodale for Vice, via Language Log)
That word: It does not mean what you think it means. Not in Scotland, anyway. (Via @jaysebro)
Caterpillar, the heavy-equipment manufacturer, has had a registered trademark for CAT since 1949. Now it’s extending CAT to a footwear line. And not just steel-toed boots, either: these oxfords are women’s street fashion. (Duets Blog)
The method Google Maps uses to name city neighborhoods “is often mysterious. The company declined to detail how some place names came about, though some appear to have resulted from mistakes by researchers, rebrandings by real estate agents — or just outright fiction.” (New York Times)