Names We Loved – and Loved to Hate – in 2010


This item was originally published on January 9th, 2010 at Fast Company.

Ah, 2010. Seems like a million years ago, when in fact we’re only two weeks into the new year. Like all good bloggers, I have a professional obligation to look back at the year that was and summarize the highs and lows of my particular area of expertise–that is, naming. So, for your enjoyment, my colleagues at Catchword and I put together a rundown of names that made the headlines in 2010.

Bad Ideas, Bad Names (adding insult to injury)

Vuvuzela: The world’s population learns this word simply so they can talk about how much they hate it. Surprisingly, no one confuses it with a Venezuelan pudendum.

The Double-Down: KFC introduces its heart-attack-in-a-sandwich. Might as well call it Double Infarction. Or better yet, ClusterCluck.

Eyjafjallajökull: A name that would live on in infamy … if only we could pronounce it. (We suggest calling it “Jeff.”)

Top Kill: Yet another BP tactic that couldn’t cap America’s worst oil spill. Deepwater indeed. More like deep sh*t.

Crotchal Area: TSA’s genital pat downs and nude imaging technology give new meaning to flying the friendly skies. We think TSA means Totally Screwed Anyhow.

Double-Dip: Oddly cheery term for rollercoaster recession ride. Rumor has it the new rollercoaster at Six Flags will be called the Great ReDepression.

Congressman John Boehner: That’s BANE-er, not BONER. The tanorexic congressman and soon-to-be butt of a thousand SNL jokes.

Refudiate: It ain’t a word, and it blurs the distinction between two perfectly good ones. Score another one for the mama bear.

Four Loko: Apt name for caffeine-and-alcohol concoction causing blackouts and worse. Why not just call it liquid crack?

Bad idea, good name (but a good name won’t save a terrible concept!)

Hoarders: Documentary series spawns collective fascination, and “hoarder” becomes buzzword for every even remotely possessive person.

Auto-Tune: Just what we need: technology that makes the world a friendly place for really crappy singers.

Bieberize: The boy with the bulletproof hairdo inspires a wave of copycat fashions among identity-challenged males. Note: studies have shown that J-Beeb is more popular with mothers of 16-year old girls than the girls themselves, thus dooming this trend forever.

Gleek: Original TV show gives rise to slick name–and scary new breed of fanatics. Eek!

Tea Party: Deft marketing ploy confounds Constitution’s forefathers with fear-mongering naysayers. But it was fun to see the movement “embrace” the term teabagging. Paging Urban Dictionary!

Good idea, bad names (close but no cigar–but thanks for playing)

WikiLeaks: Sounds like an incontinent Wikipedia in need of Depends. But this is one leak that won’t be contained. Maybe it ought to be called WikiFloods.

The Situation: Sorry, Sitch, this name’s a bitch. But props for branding yourself before the tabloids did!

Kinect: Super-cool tech for Xbox 360 video game platform gets dreary name tied to ill-fated old brand. Does anyone actually own a Kin?

Silly Bandz: Crazy-popular kids’ fashion accessory for under $3. Although if these Bandz aren’t bannedz at your kid’s school already, they will be soon.

PPACA: Government-speak for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Or Piss Poor Acronym Can’t Assist an otherwise important idea. (Why does the Pentagon get all the cool names?)

Good ideas, good names (hooray! namers everywhere rejoice)

iPad: Forget the menstrual spoofs. Nothing’s gonna stop this baby. Pod, phone, pad–any bets on the next p-word from Apple?

Inception: A movie title as cold and precise as its sci-fi premise. And bonus points for giving high school kids a leg up on their verbal SATs.

Lady Gaga: The name, the persona, the phenom: we’re Gaga for all of it. We draw the line at Gaga-branded meat dresses, though.

Jeggings: What you get when you smush jeans and leggings together (besides skinnier thighs). Fun to say, fun to wear–although Clinton and Stacy may disapprove.

Coco: Leno/Conan furor inspires “I’m with Coco” movement. As names go, it’s more fun than Conan, and minus those Arnold-the-Barbarian overtones. Yep, we’re with Coco.

Groupon: We can’t wait to see them adopt a cute grouper fish as their mascot. (Note: grouper fish are not cute.)

Droid: Whatever they paid to license the name from Lucasfilm, it was worth it. Now if only it could make us a latte and walk the dog, it would be the perfect little robot pal.


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