Schedule available for the 2023 ANS Conference, Online, January 20-22, 2023

The schedule is now available for the 2023 ANS Conference!

Registration is now open. The ANS conference will take place online, on Zoom, from January 20-22, 2023. The meeting will require a passcode, which will be sent via email to all registrants and presenters by January 16th.

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.

On Racist Mascot Naming, New York’s Effort to Quell the Practice, and “Land Acknowledgements”

A map showing the early localizations of Native American populations in the State of New York. (Public Domain)

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Kate Cohen argues that educational institutions are making incremental steps toward creating a more inclusive and diverse environment for students, citing the State of New York’s recent decision to prohibit schools’ use of Native American mascots by the end of the year. Cohen points out, however, that “land acknowledgements” can result in the same ends as the mascot:

“Land acknowledgments risk doing — albeit in a far less offensive way — what mascots do: relegate Native people to a hazy past, while relieving us of the responsibility to do anything to know or help Native Americans in the present. No institution should get to make a land acknowledgment unless it is also backing it up with action, whether financial, political or educational. A university, for instance, could offer courses in Indigenous languages, grant free tuition to Native students, repatriate tribal artifacts and even return land.”

Read more over at The Washington Post.

Publication announcement: Names: A Journal of Onomastics 70, no. 4 is now available

The latest issue of Names: A Journal of Onomastics is now available online! Click here to read the latest in onomastics scholarship in volume 70, number 4 of Names. A table of contents appears below. This is a special issue on Names in Children’s Literature.

Names is published as an open access journal available to all via the Journal’s new home at the University of Pittsburgh. All journal content, including the content found in previous volumes, is now available for free online as downloadable PDF files.

Subscribers to the print version of the journal will receive their copies within the next few weeks.


Table of Contents

Editorial by I. M. Nick


Planting Seeds in Literary Narrative: Onomastic Concepts and Questions in Yangsook Choi’s The Name Jar by Anne W. Anderson

“My Name Is…”: Picturebooks Exploring Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Names by Carrie Anne Thomas and Blessy Samjose

The Psammead or It: The Re-naming/Re-gendering of E. Nesbit’s Mythical Creature in French Translation by Mary Bardet

Nazis, Lies, and Lullabies: A Case Study of Charactonyms in the National Socialist Children’s Book Trau keinem Fuchs auf grüner Heid by I. M. Nick

Book Reviews

Mayflies by Susan Behrens

Great British Family Names and Their History by T. K. Alphey


American Name Society Conference Call by I. M. Nick

View All Issues 

Continuity and Innovation in Naming Sons and Daughters

“Hello my name is Cait” (Photo by Nick Gray, CC-BY-2.0)

A recent article in The Huffington Post by Caroline Bologna asks why parents are more creative when naming girls than boys. The article includes quotations from ANS members Dr. Sharon Obasi, associate professor and program chair of family science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Dr. Cleveland Evans, professor emeritus of psychology at Bellevue University and former president of the ANS.

Read more over at The Huffington Post!

About Names: “Cleveland Evans: Dude, call him Jeff, Jeffrey or Jefferson, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing”

Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges at Lebowskifest 2011 (Photo by Joe Poletta, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 4th column, he looks at the name Jeff.

Happy birthday to Lightfoot, Starman, Rooster Cogburn and Otis “Bad” Blake!

Actor Jeff Bridges was born Jeffrey Leon Bridges on Dec. 4, 1949. Nominated for Best Actor for “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” (1974), “Starman” (1984), and “True Grit” (2010), he won playing alcoholic country singer Blake in “Crazy Heart” (2009). He’s had three Best Supporting nods, including “The Last Picture Show” (1971) and “Hell or High Water” (2016), making him among the youngest and oldest actors nominated.

Jeffrey’s a respelling of Geoffrey, a medieval French name that merged three ancient Germanic ones. The final syllable is from “frid” (“peace”). The first could be “gawia” (“territory”), “walha” (“foreign”) or “gisil” (“hostage”).

Geoffrey was common among the Plantagenets, Counts of Anjou in northern France. The fifth Count Geoffrey (1113-1151) married Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England. Henry proclaimed her his heir, but when he died in 1135 the English weren’t ready for a reigning queen. A civil war ended by making her cousin Stephen king, and her son Henry his heir.

Though Count Geoffrey died before his son became King Henry II, the Plantagenets popularized his name in England. In 1379, Geoffrey ranked 12th for English men, leading to surnames like Geffen, Jeffries and Jefferson.

After 1500, Geoffrey became rare. The 1851 British census found only 1,041 men named Jeffery, Jeffrey or Geoffrey. The 1850 United States census, when the countries had about the same population, had only 475.

That doesn’t mean Jeff was an uncommon nickname in the United States. Veneration of third President Thomas Jefferson made Jefferson a popular first name. Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) reinforced that in the South. The 1870 census found 21,630 men with Jefferson as a first name and 8,076 Jeffs, compared to 1,083 Jeffreys.

In 1930, there were 12,431 Jeffersons, 20,904 Jeffs, and 2,719 Jeffreys. By then Geoffrey was booming for babies in England. In the 1930s Hollywood began promoting Jeffrey to Americans.