MINNEAPOLIS — What names of 2013 do you think were most memorable — or just the most fun?
At the annual meeting of the American Name Society on Friday, the group chose winners in four categories: trade names, place names, fictional names and personal names, as well as the overall Name of the Year.
Trade names included any governmental or organizational name in addition to commercial names. Nominated names were Obamacare; Healthcare.gov, the problematic government website set up to allow people to buy insurance; National Security Agency (NSA); Tealiban, a pejorative term used for the Tea Party; Google Glass; and Keystone XL, the name of the proposed pipeline to transport Canadian crude oil to the Gulf Coast.
The three nominees for Place Name were all associated with tragedy: Sandy Hook, the Connecticut school where a deadly mass shooting in December 2012 remained in the news throughout 2013; Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November; and Syria, the Middle Eastern country whose civil war and the government’s alleged use of chemical weapons kept it in the news.
Fictional names nominated were “Duck Dynasty,” the A&E reality show featuring a Louisiana family who built a successful business around duck hunting; Arya Stark, a character in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the “Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin; and Ender Wiggin, title character of the film “Ender’s Game,” based on a novel by Orson Scott Card.
As usual the Personal Name category had the most nominees. They included Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto whose cocaine use was fodder for many comedians; Edward Snowden, who leaked classified NSA documents and then went on the lam; Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who is touted as a presidential contender in 2016; and Lorde, stage name of New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O’Connor, who had a mega-hit song in the fall.
Every year a celebrity baby name gets a nod. This year it was George Alexander Louis, son of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge who was born in July.
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, recently heard as the voice of Smaug the dragon in “The Hobbit” films, was nominated in part because of the online “Benedict Cumberbatch name generator,” where random silly alternatives, like “Danglerack Custardbath” and “Budapest Humperdinck,” are created.
Francis was nominated after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name upon his election as pope in March. Naming himself after St. Francis of Assissi, he is the first pope to ever pick that name.
The final nominee was Haiyan, used by the World Meteorological association for the typhoon which devastated the central Philippines in November. Killing over 6,000, Haiyan was the strongest recorded tropical typhoon to make landfall.
The results: The four category winners were Obamacare, Syria, Ender Wiggin and Francis.
The overall name of the year for 2013, in a close contest with Obamacare, was Francis. Voters said they were swayed by arguments that Francis has greater international significance.
Which would you have voted for?