Name of the Year 2015: Caitlyn Jenner


Fictional Names: Rey, Finn, and Poe … Names from the new Star Wars movie, which all have onomastic and cultural significance in how they (1) were created, (2) represent a character, and (3) will impact baby names

Personal Name: Caitlyn Jenner … representing many LGBT onomastic issues

Place Name: Denali … Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali and the onomastic debate surrounding that change

Trade Name: Charlie Hebdo … French satirical magazine attacked by terrorists, whose name gave raise to the hash tag #jesuischarlie

Name of the Year: Caitlyn Jenner


Caitlyn Jenner was chosen the Name of the Year for 2015 by the American Name Society at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 8, 2016.

The name of the athlete and reality television celebrity who was formerly known as Bruce Jenner became known throughout the world during 2015. “Caitlyn Jenner is an example of how people in modern times are asserting their own identities by choosing their own names,” said Iman Nick, President of ANS. “Many cultures have allowed people to choose their own names after important life changes, and this right is being revived today in a positive ways by those like Caitlyn Jenner.”

Caitlyn Jenner was also voted Personal Name of the Year for 2015.

Charlie Hebdo was ANS’s Trade Name of the Year. The name of this French satirical magazine whose Paris headquarters was attacked in January 2015 by terrorists has become a symbol of free speech around the world. Its iconic status was only reinforced by the more recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Denali was voted Place Name of the Year. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell ordered the official national name of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, be changed to Denali last August. This put the federal designation in line with the official state of Alaska designation, but was criticized by many in Ohio, original home of President McKinley. The emotions aroused on both sides show the power of naming.

Rey, Finn, and Poe were voted Fictional Names of the Year. The names of three new characters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were cited for their expected impact on baby names in 2016. Rey is noteworthy for being a mostly male name given to a strong female character. Finn is significant as a name because it replaces the character’s impersonal designation, FN-2187, when he leaves the stormtroopers and joins the Resistance.

The American Name Society is a scholarly organization founded in 1951 devoted to studying all aspects of names and naming. The Name of the Year vote has been held since 2004. “Ferguson” was the 2014 Name of the Year, “Francis” for 2013, and “Sandy” for 2012.

For further information contact Dr. Cleveland Evans, chair of the Name of the Year committee, at or 402-210-7458.

Call for Nominations for the 2015 Name of the Year

The American Name Society requests nominations for the “Names of the Year for 2015”. The names selected will be ones 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.

Nominations are called for in the four following categories:

Personal Names: Names or nicknames of individual real people, animals, or hurricanes.

Place Names: Names or nicknames of any real geographical location, including all natural features, political subdivisions, streets, and buildings. Names of national or ethnic groups would be included here.

Trade Names: Names of real commercial products, as well as names of both for-profit and non-profit companies and organizations, including businesses, universities, and political parties.

Fictional/Literary Names: Names of fictional persons, places, or institutions, in any written, oral, or visual medium, as well as titles of art works, books, plays, television programs, or movies.

Winners will be chosen in each category, and then a final vote will determine the overall Name of the Year for 2015. Anyone may nominate a name. All members of the American Name Society attending the annual meeting will select the winner from among the nominees at the annual ANS meeting in Washington, D. C. on January 8, 2016. The winner will be announced that evening at a joint celebration with the American Dialect Society.

Advance nominations must be received before January 5, 2016, though nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the annual meeting. Please send your nominations, along with a brief rationale, to Dr. Cleveland K. Evans at cevans[@]


Name of the Year Nominations

To nominate a name, send:
  • nomination name
  • short justification of the nomination

to Prof. Evans at cevans[@]

Nominations are judged based on their

  • linguistic innovation
  • ability to capture national attention
  • demonstrated potential to influence language use.

REMEMBER: Popularity or notoriety of the person, place, or thing named isn’t important.

The ANS also selects sub-categories winners:

Read More

Name of the Year 2014: Ferguson

Fictional Name: Elsa (character in “Frozen”)

Personal Name: Malala (Yousufzai, Nobel Peace prize winner)

Place Name: Ferguson (Missouri town famed for protests over police violence)

Trade Name: Uber (smartphone app-based transportation network)

Name of the Year: Ferguson… Read More

Name of the Year 2013: Francis

Pope_FrancisFictional Name: Ender Wiggin (character in “Ender’s Game”)

Personal Name: Francis (Roman Catholic Pope)

Place Name: Syria

Trade Name: Obamacare (nickname of Affordable Care Act)

Name of the Year: Francis

Name of the Year 2012: Sandy

Fictional Name: Downton Abbey (television program title)

Personal Name: Malala (Yousafzai, Pakistani advocate for girls’ education)

Place Name: Gangnam (Seoul, Korea district made famous in video)

Trade Name: Fiscal Cliff (political event)

Name of the Year: Sandy (hurricane)

 … Read More

Name of the Year 2011: Arab Spring

Special Recognition: Arab Spring (international political event)

Fictional Name: Lisbeth Salander (character in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”)

Personal Name: Qaddafi, Kathafi, Khadafy, etc. (multispelled name of Libyan dictator)

Place Name: Fukushima (Japanese nuclear powerplant)

Trade Name: Siri (voice activated digital assistant for IPhone)

Name of the Year: Arab Spring… Read More

Name of the Year 2010: Eyjafjallajökull

volcanoFictional Names: Quinn and Finn (characters in “Glee”)

Personal Name: Lady Gaga

Place Name: Eyjafjallajökull (Icelandic volcano)

Trade Name: Tea Party (political movement)

Name of the Year: Eyjafjallajökull