Attention-grabbing Pet Names

(Photo by Nhandler, CC-BY-2.5)

An article in The Washington Post notes an interesting phenomenon at animal shelters: animals with unordinary names get adopted quicker. While adopting “pandemic pets” was a national trend in 2020, this year shelters are overcrowded as more animals are brought in. Included are “ones named after random objects, like Lawn Mower or Chainsaw, but others verge into the more abstract, such as a pit bull terrier mix named Knowledge or a guinea pig named Constructive Criticism.” Read more at The Washington Post.

About Names: “Television fueled the Meredith comeback”

While Meredith was not his first name, James Meredith was the first African-American man admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi

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

What new crises will Meredith have this fall?

“Grey’s Anatomy” begins its 18th season Sept. 30. The medical drama, set in a large Seattle hospital, revolves around the professional and personal lives of surgeon Meredith Grey and her colleagues. An immensely talented doctor with a messy emotional life, Meredith almost died from COVID-19 last season. “Anatomy” maintains high ratings; Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith, is one of television’s highest-paid actresses.

Meredith is the modern form of medieval Welsh Maredudd, combining words meaning “great, splendid” and “lord.” Maredudd, son of King Owain of Deheubarth in southwestern Wales, seized the northern kingdom of Gwynedd for his father in 986. When Owain died in 988, Maredudd became king of most of Wales until his death in 999. The name stayed popular in Wales and English counties bordering it for centuries, spawning the surname Meredith.

In 1851, the British census found 264 men with the first name Meredith. The 1850, the United States census found 776, though the total population was about equal. Some American Merediths may have been named after Jonathan Meredith (1772-1805), a Marine killed in the First Barbary War after saving an officer’s life. Four U.S. Navy ships have been named “Meredith” in his honor.

Though more used in America than Britain, Meredith was never common for boys. Its highest rank on Social Security’s yearly lists was 582nd in 1941, while actor Burgess Meredith (1907-1997) was at the top of his Hollywood fame.

Iowa-born Meredith Willson (1902-1984), who wrote hit Broadway musicals “The Music Man” (1957) and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1960) and the song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (1951), is probably the most famous American male Meredith.

Eponyms in College Football and Black Pioneers in Sports

A photo of George Jewett, an American athlete who became the first African-American player on the University of Michigan football team

A piece in the Chicago Tribune explores the legacy of Black sports pioneers. Only recently was a trophy named for George Jewett, the first African-American football player at the University of Michigan. Andrew Golden concludes: “We must demand that schools and programs do more to honor Black players and coaches. This is about more than just awards. It’s about the stories that need to be told and the figures who need to be recognized — because too many Black athletes have proved themselves worthy but haven’t gotten their proper respect.”


Read more at The Chicago Tribune.

Does your Password Contain the Name of a Division 1 Sports Team? It Might be Time to Change your Password…

(Image by Santeri Viinamäki, CC-BY-4.0)

Georgia Tech, University of Kansas, and University of Florida are at the top on a list of Division 1 sports team names in passwords. In a report from Specops, a research team presents its findings after combing through 800 million leaked passwords. It turns out, sports fans frequently use the names of their favorite sports teams and mascots in their passwords. Read more over at Specops.

On “Sign Names” in the Deaf Community

A recent article in the New York Times explores “Sign Names” and Deaf culture.The article cites another that recounts how Vice President Kamala Harris received her name sign. Journalist Sarah Bahr writes “Name signs are an important component of “capital D Deaf” culture, a term used by some deaf people to indicate that they embrace deafness as a cultural identity. The signs consist of gestures that can reflect facets of an individual’s personality, physical features or background.”

Read more at The New York Times.

On the Epithet “Karen”

A photo of Kate Gosselin, a bearer of the prototypical “Karen haircut” (Photo by Kathy, CC-BY-2.0)

A recent expose in The New York Times Style Magazine explores the name “Karen” as it came to represent “an entitled and belligerent white woman”. The history of this epithet—and the inherent racism and sexism to the greater concept of “a Karen”—are explored in great detail. Read more about the history and possible utility of the epithet in The New York Times.

A Dog Named “Fauci”

An image of a dog (unlikely a Fauci—as the photo was taken in 2017) in the public domain

Forget Fido, Fifi for furry friends: “Fauci” finds favor following famous facemask facilitator. All alliteration aside, an article in The Washington Post explores recent trends in dog names and naming practices. The author provides anecdotal evidence of a rise in the name “Fauci”, though it remains to be seen if the name will end up on the 2021 top K-9 name lists.

Nike Renames “Alberto Salazar Building” the “Next%” Building

A Nike Outlet Store (Photo by Michael Rivera, CC-BY-4.0)

The New York Times reports that Nike has renamed a building after coach Alberto Salazar was permanently banned from distance running. This is the third time Nike has renamed a building following revelations of serious abuse or wrongdoing—Salazar joins Joe Paterno and Lance Armstrong as former eponyms for the Nike corporation. Read more about the new name “Next%” at The New York Times.

About Names: “Are you reading ‘What happened to Lacey’?”

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 29th column, he looks at the history of the name Lacey.

‘You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey,” by Omahan Lacey Lamar and her sister, comedian Amber Ruffin, is the Omaha Public Library’s 2021 Omaha Reads selection. They humorously present the serious subject of how racism has impacted their lives as Black Omahans. The library will hold an online discussion with the authors Sept. 2.

Lacey is an English surname from the town of Lassy in Normandy. Lassy is 42 miles south of D-Day landing site Omaha Beach.

The first Laceys came to England in 1066 with William the Conqueror. One branch included John de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln (1192-1240), a leader of those who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.

An Irish branch was founded by Hugh de Lacy, who King Henry II appointed Lord of Meath when he invaded Ireland in 1172. Most Irish Laceys are Hugh’s descendants, though some get the name from Gaelic Ó Laitheasa, “grandson of the prince.”

When the custom of turning surnames into given names became established around 1700, men named Lacy appeared. The 1850 U.S. Census reported 603.

The spelling Lacy was commoner for boys. In 1880, when yearly baby name data starts, Lacy ranked 662nd. It peaked at 392nd in 1900, leaving the male top thousand in 1969.