Ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs are so ubiquitous on cable-news channels that I rarely give them more than a glance. But a few months ago I saw an ad for an ED service whose name caught my attention: Roman. Nice, I thought: A classical allusion with man embedded in the name.
I no longer remember exactly which ad I saw, but this long-form spot should give you the idea of Roman’s cocky positioning. Yes, I said cocky.
I was interested enough to do some research. And then I was even more interested.
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.
“Companies change their slogans and catchphrases all the time to keep themselves fresh in customers’ minds. But DiGiorno might be the only one that has kept the same catchphrase, but changed the implication.” (Eater)
“Sometimes I look at license plates for new prefix ideas. Sometimes I borrow from the names of cats or dogs.” How two women in Chicago create all those names for generic prescription drugs. (David Lazarus for Los Angeles Times; via MJF)*
If you’re just a tiny bit aware of blockchain, it’s probably thanks to Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer virtual currency introduced in January 2009 and rising sensationally, if erratically, in value ever since. (On November 25 a single bitcoin was worth US$8,770.) Bitcoin was made possible through blockchain technology, which, put as simply as possible, is a linked and cryptographically secured list of transactions.
Blockchain – also known as advanced digital ledger technology, or ADLT – makes obvious sense for currency. But it’s much more than the core component of a quirky monetary system with an enigmatic inventor. “Simply put,” The Economistexplained in an October 31, 2015, article, “it is a machine for creating trust.” And that means blockchain’s potential for secure transactions of many kinds is seemingly limitless. In fact, “blockchain for X” is fast becoming the new “Uber for X.”
Interviewed on May 31 at a media and technology conference hosted by Recode, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “spoke at length about Russian involvement in the 201 [presidential] contest,” according to a New York Times report. “How did they know what messages to deliver?” Clinton asked. “Who told them? Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?”
By adding colluding to coordinating, Clinton wasn’t being merely alliterative: She was giving her speculation a sinister cast. To collude is to enter into “a secret agreement for purposes of trickery or fraud”; synonyms for collusion include chicanery, intrigue, and deceit.
And Clinton wasn’t the only person invoking collusion recently. Collusion has appeared in the New York Timesmore than 50 times in the last week alone – all in connection with the investigations into Russian influence on the Trump campaign and administration. And many participants in the March for Truth, which took place in many U.S. cities on June 3, carried signs asking for an independent commission to investigate collusion between the White House and Russia.
Why do so many robot names sound alike? FastCoDesign put the question to name developer Christopher Johnson, who explained that Kuri, Yui, Yobi, et al. “sound like the kind of names you might give your dog.”
And The Forward’s language columnist, Aviya Kushner, surveyed the whole megillah, observing parenthetically: “Many of us, even if we aren’t senators or linguists, can use a little bit of fun right now, and why not turn to insult-making as stress relief?”
Finally, we bid adieu to the zoo and consider the shit show. Or is it shitshow?
"Shit show" and "shitshow" are neck and neck in our data, and also in the world in general. https://t.co/nFAEvStqG1
“Now that a sneering, orange man-child is sinking his tiny fingers into every aspect of American life, [branding] experts believe activism will become nearly as ubiquitous in the brand world as it is on college campuses.” Let’s see what they have to say.
The American Name Society is accepting nominations for Names of the Year, with the winners to be announced at the society’s annual meeting in Washington, DC, on January 8, 2016. Anyone can play; submit your nominations before January 5.
Here are my own nominations in the categories established by ANS – names “that best illustrate, through their creation and/or use during the past 12 months, important trends in the culture of the United States and Canada.” My top picks are *starred.