Nominations, Please! What Was the Name of the Year for 2018?

Nov 21st 2018

Ready to make a time capsule of the year, in name form? It's time to choose the 2018 Name of the Year—together.

Our annual Name of the Year honors the way that names change with the times, and the way they capture the times. Looking back at past NOTY choices, you can feel the movement of culture and history: Barack in 2007; Siri in 2011; even Boaty McBoatface in 2016. The honorees have included names of babies and adults, of real people and fictional, of idealized concepts and viral jokes. But they've all had one thing in common. They were nominated by readers.

As you think back over the past year, what name leaps out? It doesn't have to be a baby name per se. The NOTY can be any personal name (or, like "Boaty," something in the form of a personal name) that emerged during the year, or changed in usage or significance in a way that resonates with the times around is.

Please share your Name of the Year nominations and reasoning, and feel free to second and respond to other reader's suggestions. You can respond in comments below, or on Twitter (hashtag: #NOTY). 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, or a brand-new name or trend

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

- The "naminess" of the story or issue. How essential is the name to the event? (Keep in mind that the target is a name of the year, not a person, story, or even term of the year.)

And remember that your comments themselves count, too! Multiple nominations make an impact, and compelling arguments in support of your candidate count most of all.



November 23, 2018 10:54 AM

From national politics:




Royal births and marriages:

Louis, Meghan

Movie associations:

Wakanda seems like a more plausible US name than T'Challa

Wade of the Deadpool franchise

Sports associations:

2018 World Cup standouts Harry (Maguire) and Kieran (Tripper)

NFL rookie phenoms Patrick (Mahomes), Baker (Mayfield), and Saquon (Barkley)

From television:


Westworld's Dolores, Bernard, Arnold and Teddy

The Good Place's Chidi

General celebrity news:

Elon (Musk)

Aretha (Franklin)



November 23, 2018 1:11 PM

Seconding Beto. Being an Irish-American with a traditionally Latinx nickname is unexpected and illustrative of the Texan culture that shaped him -- while also adding fuel to the cultural-appropriation conversation.

Stormy/Stormi was prominent in both political gossip and celebrity gossip - the former's story kind of surreal and out of control and the latter's very tightly controlled.

As for Meghan: Agree that the divorced, biracial, American Duchess of Sussex is an incredibly rich symbol of progress for the royal family, and her name does illustrate parts of what makes her different. The Duchess of Cambridge was universally known as Kate before her marriage, but now officially goes by Catherine -- and though she was a commoner, her name still has traditional English royal cred (there were three Queen Katherines in the Tudor period alone). Meghan, on the other hand, is a Celtic-inspired spelling of a very American-sounding name. She is officially Duchess Meghan, rather than Duchess Rachel, though Rachel was her legal first name. We all hope that this signifies that she won't be changing who she is to fit the Crown's expectations. Okay, I think I just talked myself into this being my top pick!

November 24, 2018 8:08 PM

I second the vote for Meghan! She certainly has been the talk of the year, with her wedding and now the baby. I love the reasons listed above. She is so different from the "stereotypical" British royal and her name is part of that difference.

November 26, 2018 7:31 PM

I propose BBQ Becky (and the various spinoffs like Permit Patty, Pool Patrol Paula, etc) for NOTY 2018. These names were made up and given to white women who called the police on African Americans who were living their lives in public. The use of alliteration in the names helped make the stories go viral. “Becky” was used deliberately for its meaning of “a white woman who is ignorant of both her privilege and her prejudice” (per Merriam-Webster blog post on the subject of BBQ Becky). The name Becky alone is probably more reminiscent of Beyoncé’s 2016 “Lemonade” but has made a comeback this year. In this age of racial violence where “Say his/her name” is an oft repeated chant to remember victims of police violence, this is the first time I can think of where a name (made up or not) has been used against people and their racist actions In order to draw attention to the issue. 

November 27, 2018 12:59 AM

Beto is an inspired suggestion - and lucindajane made a convincing case for Meghan, too, even though I was initially dubious about that one.

BBQ Becky also makes sense - although I have to say that I watched the entire video of that incident, and I truly don't think she was acting out of racist motives. 

Her complaint was that charcoal barbecues were no longer allowed in that area of the park, because BBQers had been leaving behind a ton of trash ($200K worth of trash pickup in one weekend alone).  Not surprising that she would be invested in that, since she's an environmental scientist.

I think she was perhaps being rather officious, but she was technically in the right, and then felt torn between letting herself be harassed into backing down, or stubbornly persisting in being right.  The woman filming her, on the other hand, was being an incredibly cruel bully.  BBQ Becky did not deserve to be publicly shamed as a racist just for being anal about park rules.

I know this veers off-topic, but ever since I saw that video I've been horrified at what one mean person with a smartphone can do to another person's life.

...It is, however, a great example of the power of a catchy nickname.

November 27, 2018 12:29 PM

I really like Beto.  Politics has so dominated our news; Beto seems like the coming of a new era, even if he didn't win.  (And also all of the above reasons).

Meghan is an interesting choice, I like the reasoning behind it, but the name invokes popular baby name of the '90s to me more than the Duchess.  Time may change that.

BBQ Becky does show the (fleeting) power of a nickname, but for some reason doesn't 'grab' me.

Wakanda is the name I'd give for runner-up.  It grabbed a certain segment of the population.  It is the word on my children's list from the block buster movie that showed that black people can be superheros too.  It speaks to a growing American Diversity in a similar way to Beto, but to a different demographic.

November 28, 2018 7:14 PM

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest gun related names like Remington, Beretta etc. It's a category not a single name and it's tied to a general overall view not a specific story, but hear me out. 

This year, in the US and world wide, has been dominated with stories of hate, violence and division. Gun violence has been an important topic with the increased of hate crimes involving guns in the US and the Parkland teens activism around gun safety. 

We have also seen an increase in polarisation in politics and society where more and more people don't listen to the same news sources or participate in shared culture really at all. We know there is a big cultural divide in baby names between the coasts and the middle and western states, and in economic and racial demographics.  I feel that naming an infant deliberately after a gun really speaks to that divide. For some people, myself included, it is impossible to imagine looking at your sweet new baby and thinking "you know what really speaks to my hopes and dreams for this child? A handgun." However there are clearly hundreds of people in this country who see it very differently. 


Anyway, I think the cluster of names I mentioned above plus the other related gun homage names speak to the factors of fear, anger and division we are currently facing. It's depressing I know, and not as fun as a Royal wedding, but it's what came to mind for representing 2018. 

November 30, 2018 12:14 PM

I second (third?) the nomination of BBQ Betty and her ilk as the 2018 NOTY. I don't remember previous such busybodies being given names like this, but in 2018 they've been rampant. The addition of the name makes the stories larger than a simple news item, and groups them together into this depressing aura of, I dunno, lack of civility.

November 30, 2018 12:22 PM

I like a lot of the suggestions above, and I'd like to add another contender from a recent story that is all about a name.  In the last week, the name Abcde (pronounced AB-si-dee) has been making the headlines. This story is much more than simple outrage that a gate agent would mock a five-year-old for her name.  It touches that cultural nerve where modern creative naming traditions collide with traditional expectations. The name Abcde has featured in blog posts here in the past (e.g., January 2012 and January 2015), but it was still unknown to most of the rest of the world until this week.

November 30, 2018 3:09 PM

Oof. For purely selfish reasons, I'm hoping this isn't the winner. I'm not keen on my name becoming a synonym for ignorance and privilege in the first place, but it seems that ship has sailed (Thanks, Sir-Mix-A-Lot!) and sailed again (Thanks, Beyonce!).

- A Becky (who doesn't drink PSLs *or* call the police on POCs)

December 3, 2018 12:55 PM

I nominate Yanny — I mean Laurel! Okay, I nominate BOTH Yanny and Laurel, perhaps even as one name: Yanmy/Laurel (whoa!).

December 3, 2018 3:42 PM

I dunno, that Abcde story just reeks of being fake. I know it's been reproduced all over the place at supposedly-reputable sites, but it still sounds like a story made up specifically to incite outrage.

(If it's a real story, well: Mom, when you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.)

December 3, 2018 9:17 PM

Oooh, I actually have more to add about Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: The only previous Duke of Sussex was known for his liberal views including abolition of the slave trade; though he was twice married, neither of his wives was ever styled 'Duchess of Sussex' as he insisted on choosing his own spouses without permission of the crown; and his mother, Queen Charlotte, is thought to have had some African ancestry. So the choice of 'Sussex' for Harry's & Meghan's title is also incredibly symbolic of the New Progressive Royals. ("Progressive", anyway. It's still the royal family, after all!)


However! I *also* support the nomination of BBQ Becky (and Patty, and Paula) -- I wasn't familiar with any of them, but all three names are such specific signifiers of an older, white, middle-class milieu -- it gets its point across beautifully.

December 4, 2018 12:52 PM

Except that the other popular cultural uses of Becky (from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Beyonce) don't match with that "older, white, middle-class category" -- one of the articles referenced in that Merriam-Webster post (Damon Young, The Root) describe the term as "ultimately a reaction to a certain type of privileged young White woman who exists in a state of racial obliviousness that shifts from intentionally clueless to intentionally condescending." (with a side of Becky=BJ)

By JayF
December 4, 2018 2:07 PM

I agree with the nominations for Stormy.

It seems like it's the kind of name that both repels and intrigues. I mean, it's a cool name in itself, especially in an era with climate change on everyone's minds when the weather seems more intense than ever in recent memory.

So, I can see parents being intrigued to revisit this name and attempt to ignore the Trump scandal, in favor of a name that seems cozy and cute since it ends in an -e sound but also seems somewhat powerful since storms can be literal or figurative. And that makes it really neat as a name choice in the early decades of the 21st century. It's sweet and a little naughty but when you shorten it to Storm, it seems powerful. (Or like a character out of The Bold and the Beautiful, but I digress...)

This could be my next cat's name since I'm done having kids!

By JayF
December 4, 2018 2:26 PM

I noticed this on an episode of Outdaughtered. They were helping a family that had two kids: Justus and Gattlin (not sure I'm spelling that right). I thought it was interesting that one kid was named after Justice and the other kid sounded like a gun!

December 9, 2018 5:16 PM

I vote for Yanny/Laurel: a viral Internet meme that calls into question whether we’re all even working with the same set of facts as we arrive at vastly different conclusions from one another. The arguments that I heard about this meme (“how could you possibly hear laurel?? It’s very clearly yanny!”), unfortunately, mirrored those that I heard later in the year during the Kavanaugh hearings (“he’s very clearly guilty/innocent/lying/telling the truth,” depending on who you asked), and continue to hear about politics in general. This was the year, for me, that made me seriously question whether it will be possible for us to ever find any space of common ground in our political discourse.

i realize that the meme itself was not particularly “name-y,” which may count against this nomination. But, I think the nature of the meme is also echoed in one common concern of expectant parents: will this name be mispronounced/misheard/misspelled? And the yanny/laurel dilemma reminds us that the answer is, inevitably, yes, because we can never control the world around us as much as we wish we could! The real (and metaphorical) question then becomes: how will you respond to others‘ misperceptions and judgment errors.....with vitriol and irritation, or with grace, open mindedness, and the willingness to begin a conversation???

December 10, 2018 11:35 AM

Callibee makes a very compelling argument for Yanny/Laurel. We do seem to be living in hyphenated times, with most of the attention focused on the two sides of the hyphen and not enough attention paid to the hyphen itself.

I also like the nomination of Wakanda. Both the names of the characters and actors seem au courant (Nakia and Shuri; Lupita, Sterling, Danai, and Florence). The prevalence of the Marvel super heroes seems to reflect a certain amount of nervousness in the zeitgeist--we have a longing for someone to come in and make sense of the chaos. T'Challa and the rest of the Marvel pantheon do just that (up until Infinity War, at least!). So why Wakanda and not, say Ant Man, as the NOTY? I think Wakanda ties together all the themes mentioned in the other nominations: the racial tension anxiety reflected in the BBQ story, diversity and style among the royals (Meghan), and the gun culture names (the villain is named Killmonger). If only Black Panther had characters named Beto and Stormi! 

December 10, 2018 1:47 PM

I'm suggestin Gwendolyn, Genecieve or Gretchen. These old names are coming back in popularity!

December 12, 2018 7:29 PM

Seconding the nomination of Roseanne because it is such a clear representation of how world culture is more and more accepting of huge groups of people who have been marginalized for centuries. “Roseanne“ was a very widely supported show, and Roseanne Barr an iconic actress because of it, yet she was immediately fired for one racist comment. Most of the time, that’s not the case, as we’ve seen with so many sexual assault allegations, racial discrimination allegations, sexuality-based discrimination allegations, etc. Her name symbolizes the progress we are making in society. 

December 13, 2018 11:47 PM

fillefantome: You're absolutely right - thanks for the correction. I was thinking more of Patty & Paula when I said 'older'.

December 14, 2018 4:24 PM

I'd like to nominate the name Neve, daughter of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, born earlier this year.

As a name Neve is representative of her generation, being a modern spelling of a traditional name (Niamh).

Her middle name, Te Aroha, has huge significance in her home country.  It is a Maori word/name, considered a gift to her family from the many different tribes who wished her family well, and means "love". It also shows the respect New Zealand politicians have for Maori culture.

As a family, Neve and her parents represent the changing of the generational guard in Parliament.  Her mother, Jacinda Ardern, was just 37 when she became Prime Minister last year and is just the second elected head of government world wide to give birth while in office.  Her mum joined the leagues of working mothers around the world when she returned to work just six weeks after Neve was born (despite being entitled to 26? weeks), and her father took time of work to be a stay-at-home dad.  Her parents have never married.

For these reasons I nominate the name Neve as a symbol of the changing of the generations, changing attitudes in society and empowering of women.

December 17, 2018 5:33 PM

Changing my vote to Neve. Neve or Te Aroha was my first choice for NOTY, because while her birth wasn’t as hyped as some other celebrity babies’, it was far more significant. I didn’t nominate it only because I didn’t think it met the criteria for “naminess,” but Marelle makes a good case.

February 26, 2019 7:20 AM

I'm suggestin Gwendolyn, Genecieve or Gretchen. These old names are coming back in popularity!

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