Nominations, Please! What Was the Name of the Year for 2017?

Nov 14th 2017


As the end of 2017 approaches, I invite you to look back over the year and grasp its essence, in a name. What name was unique to the events, the style, the experience of our times? What was the Name of the Year?

The Baby Name Wizard Name of the Year isn't necessarily the most popular baby name, or even a baby name at all. It's a personal name (or at least something in the form of a personal name) that changed in usage or significance during the year, and points to more changes around us. It highlights the way names connect to our world, shaping the meaning and texture of events.

Looking back over past NOTYs is like browsing through a time capsule. We've seen the political elevation of the mythical everyman in Joe, the introduction of AI to daily life in Siri, the fishbowl pressure of modern celebrity in Blue Ivy, and societal grappling with the complex legacy of history in Atticus. Each name was chosen from your nominations.

In the comments section below, please share your Name of the Year nominations and reasoning, and feel free to second and respond to other reader's suggestions. You can cast your net wide, from silly to serious, but please keep in mind that the target is a name of the year, not a person or story of the year. The name itself should be at the heart of the story.

As you're thinking about the year in names, keep a lookout for these criteria:

- A dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning

- A reflection of a broader cultural theme, or influence on broader style trends

- The "naminess" of a story or issue. How essential is the name to the event? Is it clearly a name, reflecting something about names and how they're used and perceived, and not a "term"?

And remember that your comments themselves count, too! The number of nominations factors into in the NOTY choice, and compelling arguments in support of your candidate count most of all.

 

Comments

1
November 14, 2017 1:01 PM

Eleven "Elle" because of Stranger Things popularity

2
November 14, 2017 3:52 PM

For a name to sum up 2017 it would have to be Harvey, for both the hurricane that hit Texas and the Hollywood scandal that won't go away.

3
November 14, 2017 4:30 PM

I'll nominate "Offred," the main character of The Handmaid's Tale. This was a year that started with the women's march, and is ending with a number of stories about how men abuse women.

The Handmaid's Tale, with its distinctive red cloaks, has become a symbol of that abuse, and resistance to it. Within the show (and book), the handmaids' loss of power is exemplified by the stripping of their names, to be replaced with a possessive indicating the name of the man they serve. The name "Offred" tells a story about sexism, control, and identity.

4
November 14, 2017 5:18 PM

The problem with Harvey is that really, the name has absolutely nothing to do with it. Yes, there's a coincidence between the hurricane and the person, but this hasn't affected either story, nor has it created a story of its own.

(No, I don't have anything better to offer. I've been deliberately avoiding news and media.)

5
November 14, 2017 6:22 PM

Probably not the NOTY, but I would like your thoughts on "Ivanka." It's a matrilineal "junior", a diminuative/nick name, and personal name she's turned inot a brand/tried to trademark, three phenomena you've written about in 2017. Plus, I don't think people realize it's not her given name.

6
November 14, 2017 8:27 PM

On the political front, I'd go for 'Drumpf' from the left and MAGA from the right.  I'm not entirely clear if this is 2016 (the election) or 2017 (the inauguration).

The words that really come to mind for me for 2017 are 'Fake News', which is not a name at all.

Politics so dominated my news-reading this year; BNW is my escape.  I am loathe to combine the two.

7
November 14, 2017 11:29 PM

I'll second Eleven, as well as add Millie Bobby (Brown).

I'm fascinated with all of the Stranger Things names because they accurately reflect the time period the show is set in, so much so that it's jarring to me. Eleven in particular is very noteworthy--it wasn't considered a name at all prior to the show, but now that it's associated with a popular character, everyone knows it's from Stranger Things.

The young actress who plays Eleven could be a candidate for NOTY in her own right--Millie Bobby Brown has a classic example of the "new nicknames" that are already common across the pond but are gaining popularity in the US. The fact that she's gained such ubiquity brings attention to the idea that there's a generation beyond the Midcentury Normative Child: Susie is now Sadie, Johnny is Jack, Billy has given way to Millie... 

And I just realized Stranger Things came out in summer 2016. I still think enough of the real name game-changing has happened in 2017 to keep these in the running, though. :)

8
November 14, 2017 11:32 PM

Second nomination: Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., for all the reasons Laura discusses in her blog post.

9
November 15, 2017 12:57 AM

While I agree that Harvey's image has completely changed in 2017 with the hurricane and Weinstein scandal but my nomination is for "Spicey".

Tons of political figures are spoofed on SNL but none quite so memorably as Sean "Spicey" Spicer in the last few years. Giving him a dopey diminutive name along with an over-the-top portrayal really stripped away any credibility he might have been able to achieve (although, that probably would not have happened regardless). It wasn't "Spicer" or "Sean" or anything else. It was silly little boy Spicey. I can't help but think the name and SNL portrayal had a lot to do with his dismissal. 

10
November 15, 2017 7:52 AM

Oh, I like this nomination!

11
November 15, 2017 9:10 AM

I second Offred, and agree with the reasoning stated by Cebli. It's been a year of women really having to fight more actively again for our rights.

12
November 15, 2017 12:16 PM

The only name story I remember from this year, in the sense that the name was the story, is Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci.

"The Mooch" is a self-created "title" similar to past Name of the Year winner "The Situation", but with the added twist of being an in-your-face appropriation of an insult that essentially means "someone who requests or takes things they haven't earned". Which is either ironic or painfully unironic for a wealthy investment banker speaking on behalf of Donald Trump, depending on your point of view.

13
November 15, 2017 2:08 PM

I was coming here to suggest "The Mooch" as well. Especially since the nickname came out in the famous New Yorker interview that ultimately got him fired less than 2 weeks into his tenure. 

14
November 15, 2017 2:22 PM

I really like the nomination of Spicey. Part of the success of the sketch, which I agree helped to lead to Spicer's firing, was the fact that the character was played by a woman. SNL had a very name-like approach to calling the character Spicey: they took a "masculine" name (in the case Sean Spicer's surname) and added a -y to the end. Sean Spicer certainly did spice things up, but I think the choice to call the character Spicey was only partly a play on his name/the adjective spicy. It was also a deliberate poke at the hyper-masculine culture promoted by the White House. After all, a caricature of Spicer could have been called Spicer, but the writers made sure to emphasize the name in every sketch.

15
November 15, 2017 8:53 PM

I like the suggestion of Offred, although I'm not sure if it's NOTY quality given that The Handmaid's Tale was published well before 2017.

16
November 16, 2017 12:12 AM

I like the Spicey idea... It speaks to the general need to cope with the year's insanity, using humor when necessary. Offred speaks to the same idea of coping (with action rather than humor), but the name itself hasn't really been part of the story there.

17
November 16, 2017 1:05 AM

First time poster here!

What about Rocketman—the name given to the North Korean leader by the current US president that could potentially ignite a nuclear war? Or maybe Snowflake—the name used by some US right wingers to insult the left? Or perhaps Antifa—the name of the anti-fascist group that has come into media spotlight this year? I am clearly thinking politically...

18
November 16, 2017 1:28 PM

In this vein, I wanted to mention Alt-Left which seemed to appear out of nowhere and only as counterpoint to Alt-Right, a title some seem to embrace.

19
November 16, 2017 4:49 PM

Oh, I like both Drumpf and Spicey.  But even better might be covfefe. 

20
November 16, 2017 5:58 PM

I agree that this year has been so political that the NOTY must have a political tinge. I prefer Offred to honor the largely annonymous women who've spoken up en masse this year rather than honoring/highlighting one of the men whose actions have been so negative. Even though Offred is unlikely to become a popular name - it's "non-name" aspect honors protestors & speaker-up-ers. Maria could also hit the "every woman" theme while taking into account the impact of hurricanes and natural disasters this year. I think I prefer Maria to Offred as rasicsm/classism has been so much of the conversation this year as well and Maria touches on those themes...

21
November 16, 2017 6:03 PM

I could also totally get behind Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. 

23
November 17, 2017 7:08 PM

Oooh Nambia.  That's the first option that has made me think "yes, there's a real contender."  The specific story was all about the name (non-name), while actually reflecting the bigger picture of Trump's incompetence and cluelessness.  It's the namey version of the aforementioned covfefe.

 

The Mooch was sufficiently namey as well, but a flash in the pan.

24
By Aiea
November 17, 2017 8:51 PM

Didn't Stranger Things come out in 2016?

25
November 17, 2017 11:07 PM

I've got a dark horse candidate here, and one hot off the presses to boot: Paul Dochney. Or, as he was known before his real name was posted online six hours ago, @dril. Certainly, his vulgar, typo-ridden tweets wouldn't have achieved the same level of notoriety had they come from the mouth of @PaulDochneyOfficial.

But what makes this NOTY-worthy is the Twitterverse's reaction to this revelation, namely, loudly refusing to acknowledge this fact. Some people even suggested starting an active disinformation campaign so that no one can figure out who @dril really is! That's a name story that's very 2017, and this is just within the past 24 hours: who knows where this could go by the end of the month?

26
November 18, 2017 12:24 AM

I had to look it up (he really did that? in a prepared speech?), but Nambia definitely gets my vote.

(Looking it up, I had to put it in quotes: it felt like Google didn't want to allow me to make the mistake.)

27
November 18, 2017 5:02 AM

I can make my own case? Yes it debuted on stage in 2015 but we are now seeing the effect with staying power so I would like to nominate Hamilton for the name of the year: 

As a president it rises from relative obscurity- let's face it- he's not the elementary school top five and now everyone is hearing about it. As an art form it rises from relative obscurity- which is nearly impossible in the entertainment world with ALL the social media, apps, games, binge watching, online streaming and original content like self published Youtube channels etc.- that we could be once again rapt at the footlights of live theatre and creating an old fashioned stir. It's done with "Hamilton" in a seemingly new way and thus all have the same reference in mind when the name is spoken aloud. It's achieved status. 

The hit Broadway play Hamilton retelling of heroic influence and the ten dollar bill the general population forgot about opens a door... Hearing, seeing, or saying "Hamilton" feels like a live action, viral phenomenon with a twist. Because art imitates life (or something like that) it's influence will be lasting too as it raises points regarding people like Lin Manuel Miranda achieving the American Dream, as well as using people who "don't look like" the characters being portrayed (race identifiers) for actors. It's also an old turned new way to take the massive library of learning done from an online video to watching history in the mode of non-traditionally infused musicale. 

The name is the story for 2017. Loaded with so much glitz and impact Hamilton achieves the one name moniker usually referred to that of a female music artist (on par with Cher, Madonna, Beyonce, Rianna, Adele)! If it were not "Hamilton" that has proven itself this year, would the play have been better to have been called something else? Would it have or have not influenced the arguable line opinions are grappling with over historic monuments in the US currently and nasty polarizing behavior? What of the appeal of using surnames as firsts for babies and what it reflects for the circular judgement parents experience about their own success and intelligence or maybe helping their little girls "have a better chance" as a minority within the working world and politics (Madison, Mackenzie)? It's hard to tell... but it sure feels like there are more twists in the plot to come, whether we are looking behind us at the past or standing in line to buy a ticket for the future.  This progress I think is just part of our constitution. 

28
November 18, 2017 5:35 PM

I'm agreeing with those who say Elle or Eleven, for the same reasons. It's a name that's been everywhere, and Eleven is adorable as a name, who would have thought? :)

29
November 19, 2017 2:01 AM

The first name that came to mind for me was Harvey. I also like the Offred suggestion. Also, it’s not out yet, but Coco might also be a name to consider. 

31
November 19, 2017 2:20 AM

Kylie. Because I don't even have to explain it.

32
November 19, 2017 12:57 PM

@Maria Maria: actually, you do have to explain it. :) Which Kylie? And why now?

33
November 19, 2017 9:45 PM

I second the nomination of Offred. It represents so much happening in 2017, and was a winner at the Emmys.

34
November 19, 2017 11:06 PM

I definitely agree with Offred and Maria as nominations.

35
November 19, 2017 11:26 PM

My first thought was the hashtag Metoo but since I could think of no argument for that to be a name, I like the suggestion of Offred for all the symbolism in our current climate to bring womens' struggles to the open forum. 

A second suggestion is Xennials, the new micro classification of a generation that grew up playing in the streets without cell phones. It gives an identifier to people who were often unable to identify with their generation. It is a new name given for the sole purpose of explaining a societal shift and a bridge between two very different generations.  The problem with this nomination is unless you fit into this new classification you probably missed the announcement...