I just adopted a new dog, and I’ve named him Quagmire, because he seems to be getting me out of an emotional one. In fact, he’s filled my life with joy, so you’d think I’d be kind enough not to saddle him with a ridiculous name. But no.
This made me think about the act of naming something. It’s a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once something has a name, it’s pretty much stuck with it for all eternity. It becomes part of how we perceive that thing. It influences our ability to take that thing seriously.
For example, the Rocky Mountain pussytoes is a pretty little flower, but it invariably makes me giggle. Seeing a yellow-bellied sapsucker produces the same result. And who would want to live in a town called Two Egg?
Some names are so weird that they’re rarely used, thus defeating their purpose. These include nacarat, which is the name of a bright orange-red color; linsey-woolsey, which is a type of inferior wool; and bangtail, which is a mustang or wild horse.
I won’t even get into the strange names we give to places, except to say that I once almost went off the pavement in the Florida panhandle when I came across Choke Chicken Road.
And some parents shouldn’t be allowed to name their own children. One child in New Zealand was able to have her name legally changed after being stuck with “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii.”
But there is a word that I’d love to see make a comeback in this current political climate: trumpery. It means deception, trickery or showy nonsense. How apropos.