What’s in a Name?

The appalling appellations of babies, brands, and backronyms. See sources <a href="/news/exhibit/2006/11/exhibit_sources.html" target="new">here</a>.

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THE NUMBER OF companies “re-branding” themselves has risen 15% since 2005.

AMONG 150 FICTITIOUS company names invented by a British satirical website in 2002, Ualeo, Ovisovis, and Bivium have since become the names of real companies.

ACCORDING TO a recent survey in Ad Week, consumers consider names starting with “B,” “C,” and “S” to be “traditional” while those starting with “Q,” “V,” “X,” and “Z” are thought to be “innovative.”

IN 2002, the holding company Axa changed its name to Xignux, because it “wanted to conserve the equity it held in the letter X.”

TO AVOID confusion, in 2003 drug companies put a moratorium on names for generics starting with “X” or “Z.”

ADOBE SYSTEMS is fighting the use of “photoshop” as a verb. Instead it recommends “the image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.”

TO AVOID A pronunciation that translates to “dog dog” in Mandarin, Google calls itself “goo-guh” in China, which means “harvesting song.”

THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY holds trademarks on “Hubbard,” “celebrity,” “flag,” “high winds,” “purification,” “key to life,” “the way of happiness,” and “truth revealed.”

MANY CHURCHES have dropped “Baptist” from their names. Says the pastor of one such church: “Some people mistakenly associate the Baptist name with an angry, judgmental kind of fundamentalism.”

SINCE 1961, the Southern Baptist Convention has considered dropping the word “Southern” 8 times.

MARGARET MITCHELL considered naming Gone With the Wind, which she began while bedridden with a broken ankle, Tote the Weary Load.

THANKS TO A $10 million gift, Columbus Children’s Hospital will soon break ground on the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center.

A $100 MILLION GIFT from a University of North Dakota alumnus is dependent on the school defying an NCAA ban against racist mascots and keeping the “Fighting Sioux.”

LAST WINTER, an Indiana elementary school changed its mascot from the Hurricanes to the Huskies. Said the principal, “We want to be something kinder and gentler, something that’s more, ‘Come and join us.'”

IN 1993, the Exxon Valdez was rechristened the SeaRiver Mediterranean.

LAST YEAR Clark, Texas, renamed itself DISH in exchange for a decade of free satellite television. And Agra, Oklahoma, became Viagra for 2 days in exchange for country music concert tickets for every resident.

AMONG THE 50 million registered .com Internet addresses are 550 that meet the 63-character limit, such as Thelongestdomainnameintheworldandthensomeandthensomemoreandmore.com.

THE THAI WORD for “Bangkok” is 164 letters long and tells the city’s history.

TO PROTEST a wind turbine, Llanfynydd, Wales, changed its name to a 66-letter Welsh word meaning “a quiet beautiful village, an historic place with a rare kite under threat from wretched blades.”

IN 1965, writers of the 1951 song “Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus” sued Disney over the Mary Poppins song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The songwriters lost.

IN 2002, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who was born William George Perks, threatened to sue American journalist Bill Wyman for using his name.

THIS YEAR, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America changed its name to the American Association for Justice, to “reflect whose side we’re on.”

IN SEPTEMBER, an Idaho gubernatorial candidate changed his name to “Pro-Life.” Last year, a candidate for U.S. Senate changed his middle name to “None of the Above” (but couldn’t put it on the ballot), and an aspiring Russian governor changed his name to “Harry Potter” (he lost).

TO ALTER the state’s wintry image, North Dakota legislators have considered dropping the word “North” four times. To reform its crime-ridden reputation, in 2003 South Central L.A. was renamed South L.A.

NEW YORK has 12 laws named after crime victims, including Buster’s Law, for a tabby cat doused with kerosene and set on fire.

BRAZIL OFFICIALLY recognizes only 5 racial categories, but a national survey found that Brazilians identify with 136, including “snow white” and “cinnamon.”

IN 2002, the German firm Siemens ditched plans to use the name Zyklon for a line of home appliances, including gas ovens.

IN JULY, the U.N. renamed Auschwitz “the former Nazi German Concentration Camp of Auschwitz” after Poland objected to it being called a “Polish concentration camp.”

PRINCE CHARLES may change his name to George when he is crowned king, due to the bloody associations with Charles I and II.

AFTER A CANADIAN ham company trademarked Parma, ham makers in Parma, Italy, were forced to rename their product sold in Canada “super ham.”

LAST YEAR, Australia held a worldwide contest to rename kangaroo meat. Finalists included marsu, kangasaurus, marsupan, jumpmeat, and MOM (meat of marsupials).

IN 2005, McDonald’s offered rappers $5 every time one of their songs mentioning a Big Mac was played on the radio.

TUPAC SHAKUR’S name appeared once on Rolling Stone‘s cover before his death and 4 times since.

IN 1992, MTV banned Sir Mix-A-Lot’s raunchy “Baby Got Back.” Last year, Target paid Sir Mix-A-Lot an undisclosed amount to change the chorus to “Baby got backpack” as part of its back-to-school marketing campaign.

since christian rocker Sonny Sandoval told MTV Cribs in 2000 that he’d named his daughter Nevaeh—heaven spelled backward—the name has become more popular than Mary.

JENNIFER was the most popular girl’s name in America from 1970—the year Love Story came out—until 1984.

the popularity of Aidan rose from No. 114 in 2000 when the Sex in the City character was introduced to No. 43 in 2005.

MALAYSIA prohibits naming a child after an insect, fruit, or vegetable, and bans “undesirable” names such as “Smelly Dog” and “Hitler.”

AT LEAST 3 Americans are named ESPN.

IN APRIL, Muhammad Ali sold all rights to his name for $50 million.

IN JULY, the president of Iran ordered that modified Persian words replace foreign words such as “chat,” “helicopter,” and “pizza”—which will now be known as “elastic loaves.”

ABDUCTED BY THE CIA, German citizen Khaled el-Masri was detained for 5 months even after the CIA knew it had confused him with Al Qaeda operative Khalid al-Masri.

IN JULY 2005, the Global War on Terror officially became the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, or GSAVE, to emphasize that it’s an “ideological battle.” Since then the Bush administration has also test-driven the Global Struggle Against Enemies of Freedom and the Long War Against a Determined Enemy.

“BACKRONYM” BILLS recently debated by Congress include CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) and ENRON (Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now).

WHEN REP. DON YOUNG (R-Alaska) wanted a bill named for his wife, Lu, six staffers spent an afternoon formulating SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—;A Legacy for Users).

IN MARCH, Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) said, “I think people are starting to spend more time coming up with a clever acronym than they are worrying about the substance and the impact of the legislation they write.”


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