“Great Resignation” Chosen 2021 Name of the Year

“Great Resignation” was chosen as the winner of the Name of the Year for 2021 by the American Name Society at its virtual annual meeting on January 23, 2022. Also known as the Big Quit, the Great Resignation refers to an economic trend in 2021 where large numbers of people left their jobs with a record 4.3 million resigning in August 2021. The phrase was likely coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M.

“Karen” was chosen as Personal Name of the Year. “Karen” is a pejorative term used for a typically white woman who is perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what’s considered normal and civil. Although started years ago, the pejorative use has continued to gain momentum in memes and on social media.

“United States Capitol” was voted Place Name of the Year. On January 6, 2021, a mob of thousands of Trump supporters attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., and violently disrupted a joint session of Congress. Linguistically, this is significant because it underlined confusion between the uses of “capitol” and “capital.” Interestingly, “Insurrection” was selected as Word of the Year 2021 by the American Dialect Society.

“Cyber Ninjas” won the title Trade Name of the Year. Cyber Ninjas is the name of the firm that led the partisan 2020 election review in Arizona with the intention to overturn the 2020 Presidential election results. The company was plagued with legal battles and eventually dissolved.

“Squid Game” was chosen Artistic Name of the Year. Squid Game is a South Korean survival drama streaming on Netflix in 2021. It quickly became one of the most popular Netflix series worldwide. The name is taken from a Korean children’s game.

“#FreeBritney” was voted E-Name of the Year. Due to mental health issues, Britney Spears was placed in conservatorship in 2008 with her father controlling her estate and medical decisions. Out of concern for her situation, Spears’ fans created the hashtag in 2019 for the Free Britney movement in order to change her legal standing. The movement led to Spears’ release from conservatorship and to a bill reforming conserveratorships in California.

“CRT” was chosen Miscellaneous Name of the Year. Although more than 40 years old, CRT, or Critical Race Theory, examines the relationship between race and law in the United States. ANS chose the initialism over the full term because it highlights the misunderstanding of the theory and the latest controversies in education.

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.The 2020 Name of the Year was jointly held by “Kamala” and “COVID-19.” ”Brexit” was Name of the Decade and “Arrokoth” was the 2019 Name of the Year. “Jamal Khashoggi” was the 2018 Name of the Year. “Rohingya” was the 2017 Name of the Year. “Aleppo“ won for 2016 , “Caitlyn Jenner” for 2015, “Ferguson” for 2014, “Francis” for 2013, and “Sandy” for 2012.

For further information contact Deborah Walker, chair of the Name of the Year committee, at debwalk@gmail.com, 206-621-3543.

A PDF version of this press release can be found here.

Call for Papers: ANS panel at the 2023 Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention

The American Name Society is issuing its Call for Papers for the ANS panel at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention, which will be held 5–8 January 2023, in San Francisco, CA, USA. The theme of the panel is “Names and Identity in Literature: Contemporary Debates.”

The politics of names and naming has been brought into sharp relief by several influential scholars and studies during the 21st century. Recent work in this area is exemplified by the papers in edited collections including Luisa Caiazzo and I.M. Nick’s Shifting Toponymies: (Re)naming Places, (Re)shaping Identities (2020), and Guy Puzey and Laura Kostanski’s Names and Naming: People, Places, Perceptions and Power (2016). Debates about names may be symbolic of wider cultural questions about social change and ownership, from post-colonial naming practices to the rights of an individual to (re)name themselves. Papers for this panel will explore questions about names and identity and how they are reflected in contemporary literature. Examples of themes that can be addressed include: contested place-names; post-colonial place-names; transgender names; names and raciolinguistics; names and legal status; names as political statements.

Proposal Submission Process:

  1. Abstracts proposals (350 words) should be sent as an email attachment (PDF format) to Dr Maggie Scott (m.r.scott@salford.ac.uk);
  2. Proposals should include “MLA 2023 proposal” in the subject line of the email;
  3. All submissions must include an abstract, title, full name(s) of the author(s), the author(s) affiliation(s), and email address(s) in the body of the email and NOT with the abstract;
  4. DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by 8pm GMT on Friday 18 March 2022. Authors will be notified about the results of the blind review on or by 25 March 2022;
  5. Contributors selected for the thematic panel must be members of both MLA and ANS in order to present their papers, and members of MLA by 7 April 2022;
  6. For further information, please contact Dr Maggie Scott (m.r.scott@salford.ac.uk).

Download a PDF copy of the full call for papers here


Abstract book available for the 2022 ANS Conference, Online, January 21-23, 2022

The abstract book is now available for the 2022 ANS Conference! 

We’ve got an amazing array of topics and speakers this year. Click here for the full conference schedule.

Registration is still open. The ANS conference will take place online, on Zoom, from January 21-23, 2022. The meeting will require a passcode, which will be sent via email to all registrants and presenters by January 19th.

The book of abstracts will be available as soon as possible.

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.

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

Last Call for Nominations for the 2021 Names of the Year

Deadline is January 15th!

The American Name Society requests nominations for the “Names of the Year for 2021”. 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. It is not necessary, however, for a nominated name to have originated in the US. Any name can be nominated as long as it has been prominent in North American cultural discourse during the past year.

Nominations are called for in the following categories:

  • Personal Names: Names or nicknames of individual real people or individual animals.
  • 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 based on place names could 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.
  • E-Names: Names of persons, figures, places, products, businesses, institutions, operations, organizations, platforms, and movements that exist in the virtual world.
  • Miscellaneous Names: Any name which does not fit in the above five categories, such as names created by linguistic errors, names of particular inanimate objects, names of unorganized political movements, names of languages, etc. In most cases, 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 2021. 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 21-23, 2022.

Survey Link

Advance nominations must be received before January 15, 2022. Nominations will be accepted from the floor at the annual meeting. You can also send your nominations, along with a brief rationale, by email to Deborah Walker: debwalk@gmail.com.

Thank you for your nominations!


Confronting “Dixie” in Southern Utah

Dixie National Park in Utah (Photo by m01229, CC-BY-2.0)

A recent column in The Washington Post recounts efforts to confront the name “Dixie” in a small part of Utah. The author notes that there are an “unusually high numbers of Dixie names” in three different Utah Zip codes. Local businesses, and even cuisines, cary the “Dixie” name. While residents are ready for a name change, others are hesitant because the name is so ingrained in local culture.

Read more in The Washington Post.

About Names: “Sports, music, and works of fiction helped popularize Andre”

French author and poet André Breton (Attribution: public domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 2nd column, he looks at the history of the name Andre.

Andre starts the beginning of the end Tuesday.

“Black-ish,” the popular ABC sitcom about a wealthy African American family, premieres its final season Jan. 4. Anthony Anderson, starring as advertising executive Andre “Dre” Johnson, has been nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series all seven seasons.

André is the French form of Andreas, a Greek name derived from “andreios” (“manly”), known as Simon Peter’s brother, the first Apostle of Jesus. In English, he’s of course called St. Andrew.

Before the 19th century, it was normal to translate given names when moving from one culture to another. Men born André in France would naturally be called Andrew when visiting or immigrating to an English-speaking country. It’s only around 1800 that different forms of common saint’s names from other languages started being adopted into English.

The 1850 United States census, first listing all free residents by name, found 475 men called Andre. Eleven percent were born in France or Quebec, and 38% in French-influenced Louisiana.

The names of slaves weren’t listed in the census. The 1870 census included 670 Andres. Twenty-two percent of those were Black, mostly freed slaves and their sons. Forty-two percent of them were born in Louisiana.

Andre increased slowly over the next 70 years, though it didn’t maintain its popularity with Black parents. In the 1940 census, the latest with names available, only 5.4% of the 3,673 Andres were Black men, though Black men made up 9.8% of the population.

Meanwhile André had boomed back in France. Between 1910 and 1935, it was second only to Jean as a name for French boys.

Andre entered the top thousand baby names in the United States in 1924. Starting in the 1930s, it was helped by orchestra conductor Andre Kostelanetz (1901-1980). Born Abram Kostelyanetz in Russia, he’s credited with inventing “easy listening” light classical arrangements years before the term was created. Albums with him conducting the New York Philharmonic billed as “Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra” sold millions.

Schedule available for the 2022 ANS Conference, Online, January 21-23, 2022

The schedule is now available for the 2022 ANS Conference!

Registration is now open. The ANS conference will take place online, on Zoom, from January 21-23, 2022. The meeting will require a passcode, which will be sent via email to all registrants and presenters by January 18th.

The book of abstracts will be available as soon as possible.

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.

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

Vaccine Names and the Trademark Restrictions that Govern Them

A column in The Wall Street Journal discusses the difficulties involved with creating and marketing new trademarks in the pharmaceutical industry. COVID-19 vaccine shots are more popularly designated by the company that produced the vaccine rather than their proper names. “Moderna” and “Pfizer” are likely more recognizable than “Spikevax” or “Comirnaty”. While one executive from Moderna is quoted as favoring either “Spikevax” or “The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine”, she notes that a unique and catchy name is still necessary.

Read more about how pharmaceuticals navigate these tricky trademark-naming waters in The Wall Street Journal.