About Names: From the Bible to ‘Family Guy,’ Seth’s had a long run

Actor Seth Rogan

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 26th column, he looks at the history of the name Seth.

Seth is the English form of Shet, Hebrew for “appointed.” In the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Seth is Adam and Eve’s third son, born after oldest brother Cain kills second brother Abel. That’s about all Genesis says. Later legends say Seth journeys to Paradise, where he sees a vision of the future newborn Jesus. Seth writes a book describing the star foretelling the baby’s birth. Centuries later, this guides the wise men to Bethlehem.

These legends were featured in “Cursor Mundi,” a poem written in northern England around 1300. Perhaps that’s why Seth was used by several prominent Yorkshire families by 1450, a century before the Reformation created a general fashion for Old Testament names.

When Social Security’s yearly baby name lists started in 1880, Seth ranked 349th. Like most Old Testament names, it then declined, bottoming out at 907th in 1930. Seth then rose, booming in the 1970s to a plateau at around No. 100 between 1979 and 1997. Pop culture doesn’t seem to have had a big influence, even though its first peak, at 89th in 1987, was helped by the 1986 horror film “The Fly,” in which scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) turns into an insect.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Seths in history!

Americans, we can name an exoplanet!


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) invites you to help name an exoplanet and its star.

A national committee for the US naming event has been specially created by the National Outreach Coordinators to carry out the campaign at the national level. The national committee strictly follows the methodology and guidelines set up by the IAU100 NameExoWorlds Steering Committee and is responsible for providing the conditions for public participation, disseminating the project in the country and establishing a voting system.

The US Exoplanet Naming Campaign collected names from September 15 – October 15, 2019. The US National Committee received hundreds of proposals. A group of 40 amateur and professional astronomers, teachers and students will identify 10 proposals that will be voted on by the US public. This list of 10 semi-finalists will be made public and available for public voting on November 1st, 2019. Public voting will be open until November 14, 2019. The top three selected by US voters will be submitted by November 15 to the IAU100 NameExoworlds Steering Committee for the final choice. The final result will be announced by the IAU the week of December 16 – 21, 2019.

Chicago Aldermen Propose New Name for Lake Shore Drive

Two City Council members want to rename Lake Shore Drive to honor Chicago’s founder, Jean Baptiste Point duSable.

DuSable, a black pioneer and fur trader, was the first non-indigenous person to live in what is now Chicago. The idea came to Ald. David Moore three years ago while taking a tour of the city. Moore and Ald. Sophia King introduced an ordinance to the Committee on Transportation and the Public Way to rename Lake Shore Drive. Moore also sees the name change as an opportunity to educate tourists and Chicago residents, both young and old, about the city’s founder.

DuSable was born in Haiti in 1745 to a French mariner and a mother who was a slave of African descent. He arrived in the 1770s and lived alongside the Chicago River near Lake Michigan. He farmed and traded fur and grain.

Call for Papers: SLA 2020, Future Imperfect: Language in Times of Crisis and Hope, Boulder, Colorado, April 2-5 2020,

The Society for Linguistic Anthropology, in partnership with graduate students in the Program in Culture, Language, and Social Practice (CLASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, is pleased to announce the SLA 2020 Conference, to be held April 2-5, 2020 in Boulder, Colorado. The theme is “Future Imperfect: Language in Times of Crisis and Hope”. Please see the conference website for more information on the theme.

It will take place at the Hilton on Canyon in Boulder, Colorado, on April 2-5, 2020. The SLA Conference Steering Committee welcomes all submissions advancing the study of language and society, but we are especially interested in work that engages the 2020 conference theme.

The SLA will prioritize submissions for organized panels, individual presentations, roundtables, posters, and installations that engage productively with our conference theme and involve creative and diverse participation across methods, disciplines, institutions, and professional levels. We especially welcome panels that involve graduate students, activists, and/or public figures in addition to faculty. We also encourage conference participants to consider presenting new or in-progress research in order to take full advantage of SLA’s interdisciplinary community of scholars. To that end, we encourage participants who have an innovative proposal that does not readily fit into the conference format to contact the conference organizers at slaboulder@gmail.com for independent consideration.

The submission portal will open on Tuesday, October 8.

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2019.

Call for papers: 14. International Conference on Cartographic Engineering and Mapping, London, UK, August 20-21 2020

The ICCEM 2020 aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Cartographic Engineering and Mapping. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Cartographic Engineering and Mapping.

Call for Contributions

Prospective authors are kindly encouraged to contribute to and help shape the conference through submissions of their research abstracts, papers and e-posters. Also, high quality research contributions describing original and unpublished results of conceptual, constructive, empirical, experimental, or theoretical work in all areas of Cartographic Engineering and toponymy are cordially invited for presentation at the conference.

Abstracts/Full-Text Paper Submission Deadline: October 31, 2019

Call for papers: Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland’s Spring Conference, Wales, April 17-20 2020

The SNSBI’s 29th Annual Spring Conference will be held in the Best Western Heronston Hotel (Bridgend, Wales, UK) on April 17-20, 2020.

Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers and short project reports on any aspect of name-studies in Britain and Ireland. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent by 31 October 2019. Informal enquiries are also welcomed.

Proposals for papers should be sent to:

Dr Rebecca Gregory
School of English
University of Nottingham NG7 2RD

ANS2020 Conference – Banquet Information

The American Name Society will hold its annual banquet during the conference in New Orleans at the Grand Isle Restaurant, 575 Convention Ctr. Blvd, New Orleans, LA, 70130. The banquet will be held Saturday evening, January 4, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. We will have a private room.


The Grand Isle has made a number of “best of” and “top ten” lists in the city for its fine New Orleans cuisine. The restaurant is two blocks from the conference hotel. If someone is not able to make the short walk, there are transoms that travel from the hotel to the restaurant for a reasonable fee.

The Barataria Pass Menu includes a choice of starters (seafood gumbo or house
salad), a choice of entrees (baked fish, roasted chicken, or vegetarian option), and lemon ice box pie for dessert; coffee is included.

Rather than prepaying, this year we ask that members pay onsite at the restaurant, either by cash or check. Each of the individual meals will be $50, which covers dinner, sales tax, and a 20% tip. Drink tabs for additional beverages will be separate for guests and paid separately.

We hope to see you at the banquet!

In Memoriam: John Algeo (1930-2019)

John Algeo

Long time ANS member, past ANS President (1984), and names scholar John Algeo passed away on Sun., Oct. 13th 2019, at the age of 88, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Over the years he published several important articles in Names. The American Name Society would like to express its sincere condolences to the Algeo family.

He served as president of the American Dialect Society in 1979 and was the editor for American Speech from 1969 to 1982, overseeing the journal’s transition to becoming the official organ of the ADS in 1970. He also served as chair of the society’s New Words Committee, and in that capacity edited “Among the New Words” for American Speech from 1987 to 1997, joined for most of that time by his wife Adele as co-editor. They commemorated the 50th anniversary of the feature in 1991 with the publication of the book 50 Years Among the New Words. He also wrote and edited many other valuable works on American English, including Cambridge History of the English Language: Vol. VI, English in North America (2001), British American Grammatical Differences (2004), The Origins and Development of the English Language (6th ed., 2005), and British or American English? A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns (2006).

His obituary in the Bowling Green Daily News can be found here.

About Names: Blake could mean black or white, could refer to a boy or a girl

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 27th column, he looks at the history of the name Blake.

lake’s an English surname. In Old English, blæc meant “black” while blac meant “pale.” Both became nicknames referring to hair color or complexion. By medieval times, the words were confused, so Blake families don’t know if their medieval ancestor was swarthy or fair. In Ireland, Blake was also an English form of Ó Bláthmhaic, derived from a personal name meaning “flower son.” There were 73,797 Americans with the surname Blake in 2010, ranking it 447th.

In the 19th century, parents began using surnames as given names. The 1850 United States Census found 266 men and boys called Blake. A few Southern girls were named Blake in the early 20th century. Then in 1988, daytime soap “Guiding Light” rapidly aged child character Christina Thorpe (born in 1975), reintroducing her as an adult going by her middle name, Blake. Blake Thorpe Marler (played 1989-92 by Sherry Stringfield and later by Elizabeth Kiefer) endured the birth of twins thought to have been fathered in a one-night fling who later turned out to be her husband’s after all. Enough “Guiding Light” fans named daughters Blake to just get the name into the top thousand between 1990 and 1997.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Blakes in history!

Call for Papers: CSSN: Joint Session, Canadian Society for the Study of Names and the Canadian Association of Hispanists (CAH), Ontario, Canada, May 30-31 2020

The Canadian Society for the Study of Names (CSSN) / Société canadienne d’onomastique (SCO) and the Canadian Association of Hispanists (CAH) will hold their annual meetings as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Canada, May 30-31, 2020, at Western University in London, Ontario.

They welcome abstract proposals on any onomastic theme in the Spanish-speaking world, including but not limited to:

  • Personal names (e.g. family names, nicknames, naming trends and systems, etc.)
  • Place names (e.g. streets, settlements, rural names, rivers, etc.)
  • Names in literature
  • Names in society (e.g. identity, power, perceptions, attitudes, forms of address, etc.)
  • Names and linguistic landscape (e.g. public road signs, advertising billboard signs, street signs, commercial shop signs, etc.)

Please see the official call for papers for more details.

DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by January 25, 2020.