Award for Best Article in Names: A Journal of Onomastics 2019

The 2019 Award Winner is:

Dr. Sharon Obasi

Sharon N. Obasi, Richard Mocarski, Natalie Holt, Debra A. Hope, Nathan Woodruff, “Renaming Me: Assessing the Influence of Gender Identity on Name Selection” NAMES 67(4): 199-211.

Among the many accolades this piece of outstanding onomastic scholarship received, the NAMES Board Members praised this publication for its thematic originality, substantive methodology, and potential to draw attention to an area of onomastic research in need of further investigation. Moreover, the article was highly commended for its insightful yet sensitive exploration of an issue of great relevance for a segment of the world’s population that is often overlooked and denigrated. Consequently, as one Board member extolled, this article has the power to contribute to the protection of human rights, while championing the importance of diversity and self-determination. Indeed, as one Board Member stressed, given the high number of readers who have already downloaded this scholarship, it is clear that this work deeply “resonates with a wider community” and therefore promises to increase societal interest in the field of onomastics – one of the primary goals of the American Name Society.

Last chance to register for the 2021 ANS Conference, Online, January 22-24, 2021

Registration is open for the 2021 ANS Conference. The ANS conference will take place on the Crowdcast platform from January 22-24, 2021.

You can register online here, or download a PDF of the Conference Registration Form and mail it to ANS Treasurer Saundra Wright, as per the instructions on the form.

The schedule is available here!

For more information about the ANS Conference, please visit our Conference Page.

We look forward to seeing you there!

About Names: Country singing sensation momentarily revives Garth’s popularity

LOS ANGELES – MARCH 14: Garth Brooks arrives for the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 20th column, he looks at the history of the name Garth.

Garth is an English surname derived from Middle English “garth,” itself from Old Norse “garðr,” “enclosure,” indicating one’s ancestor lived by a garden or orchard. Only 402 people with Garth as a last name were listed in the 1940 United States census. However, actress Jennie Garth (Kelly Taylor on “Beverly Hills, 90210”) has made it well-known.

When the custom of turning last names into boys’ given names began around 1800, Garth became a first name. The 1850 census includes three Garths, all in Kentucky, with the oldest, Garth M. Kimbrough, born Jan. 1, 1820.

Garth left the top 1,000 names in 1983. Then in 1989 Garth Brooks became a country singing sensation. His second album, “No Fences” (1990), containing “Friends in Low Places,” the Country Music Award’s Single of the Year, sold 17 million copies. Boys named Garth skyrocketed 360% to rank 658th in 1992. The name then collapsed, leaving the top 1,000 again in 1994.

ANS Panel at Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference, Toronto, Canada, January 8, 2021

ANS Panel at the Modern Language Association Conference (online)

Toponyms and Literaryscapes
Moderator: Luisa Caiazzo, Univ. of Basilicata

We hope to see you there!

The complete program can be found here.

For more information about the MLA, check out the official website.


About Names: Maud’s best chance for a comeback lies with Hollywood

Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay in 1973

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 3rd column, he looks at the history of the name Maud.

Maud is a medieval form of Matilda, a Germanic name linking words for “power” and “battle.” Brought to England by Norman conquerors, it was best known through Empress Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of King Henry I, whose title came from her first marriage to Holy Roman Emperor Henry V.

When Henry I died in 1135, he wanted his daughter to be Queen. The English weren’t ready to accept a woman monarch, so a civil war between Matilda and her cousin Stephen ensued. This was settled in 1153 by declaring Stephen king, but making Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet his heir. Though official records called her Matilda, in everyday English she was Empress Maud. Around 1380, “Matilda” was the fourth commonest woman’s name in English records, but was still “Maud” in spoken English.

Tennyson and Whittier made Maud popular, though by 1875 Americans preferred the spelling “Maude.” The first nationwide baby name lists in 1880 showed Maude ranking 21st and Maud 70th. Combined they would have been 13th.

ANS Names: The Journal of Onomastics goes Open Access!

In 2021, we have moved online access to our journal NAMES to its new home at the University of Pittsbugh, as an Open Access journal. This means that online access to every issue of NAMES will be free to everyone! We are excited about sharing our work freely with scholars around the world. The print journal will continue to be published four times a year for those members who wish to receive it.

All back issues are available as PDFs in the archives, for online viewing or to download.

If you’d like to join the ANS, or renew your membership, please click here.

Call for Nominations for the 2020 Names of the Year

Image by DarkmoonArt_de from PixabayThe American Name Society requests nominations for the “Names of the Year for 2020”. 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 five 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 incorporated companies and organizations, including businesses and universities.
  • Artistic & 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. Such names are deliberately given by the creator of the work.
  • Miscellaneous Names: Any name which does fit in the above four categories, such as names created by linguistic errors, names of particular inanimate objects other than hurricanes, names of unorganized political movements, names of languages, etc. In general, to be considered a name such items would be capitalized in everyday English orthography.

Winners will be chosen in each category, and then a final vote will determine the overall Name of the Year for 2020. 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 on January 24, 2021

Advance nominations must be received before January 21, 2021.

You can submit your nominations via this form:

Alternately, you can download the form and email it to Deborah Walker:

Nominations will also be taken from the floor at the Annual Meeting.

Thank you for your nominations!