Each year at its annual meeting, held in early January, the American Name Society announces the most notable names of the previous year. I’ve already picked my brands of the year, but names of the year are selected by different criteria. So here’s my ANS-qualified list, which uses ANS categories and criteria: linguistic innovation, potential to influence language use, and ability to capture national attention. “Popularity or notoriety is not deemed important,” says the ANS.
Before I present my own list, I want to recommend the Namerology blog’s recent post, “The 2019 Name of the Year Is Karen.” In case you hadn’t heard, Karen is being used as a mocking slur against a certain type of Generation X white woman—insensitive, self-absorbed, even racist and/or homophobic. “The use of a given name as a slur for a demographic group is simultaneously more general and more personal,” writes Namerology author Laura Wattenberg. “It invalidates people wholly and indiscriminately.” Curiously, Karen peaked in popularity not during Gen X but years earlier, during the peak Baby Boom years. As Wattenberg notes, “Gen X can’t seem to step free of the baby boom’s shadow, even to be insulted.”
Here’s my own NotY list: