Business Naming Tools Under the Tree

When you’ve been in the company naming business as long as I have, my family knows what to give me for Christmas.

12-27-books Books about words.

I love words – their meanings, their origins, their attributes.

So this Christmas, as in days past, I was delighted to find books under the tree. This year my wife found three really unique ones. All are enjoyable in themselves, and are also welcome additions to my naming resources library.

First was Hunter Davies’ Book of Lists: An Intriguing Collection of Facts and Figures. I own at least a dozen “books of lists”. This one comes from England and is a real olio of topics; everything from “Burial places of the famous” to “Favorite car colors”. And in between I found several lists that promised to be fruitful in naming a business or a product. For instance, under “American mountain biking slang” were these gems: acro-brat (a kid “jumping” his bike) and endo (flying over the handlebars end-over-end). Oh, I’ll spend some time during TV commercials of Lost enjoying this one.

Speaking of enjoyment, the kind that comes from an “aha” experience, Bloom’s Bouquet of Imaginary Words is an absolute prize. This small volume takes real words and with a deletion or addition of a character, or a combining of two words, or the switching of phonemes create new words the authors then define cleverly. Examples:

cabooze – bar car
bamboom – explosion in a rattan furniture factory
Lincoin – a penny
sermoan – a dull Sunday speech
martiny – a small cocktail
pugeon – chubby bird

I’ll use this book for naming ideas, and I’ll find it a source of instruction about how some of the words on my list of name candidates can be manipulated into new name possibilities.

Third is another England-originated reference: How Not To Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms (Oxford Paperback Reference). The majority of euphemisms have negative connotations – that’s the reason we use them in the first place. However, leafing through this 450-plus page, and using its thematic index, I found some fascinating words and terms that might lend themselves to name development. Problem is, the euphemisms are of English, not American, origin so there meanings are sometimes obscure.

I would like to see a compilation of only-positive  euphemisms, slang, idioms and colloquialisms published one day. It sometimes gets tiresome browsing the existing specialized dictionaries because of the raft of negative words that need to be culled.

Anyway, if you didn’t receive any good books for Christmas, you can check these three out by clicking on their titles above. And if you did, why not share them in the comments section below?

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2 thoughts on “Business Naming Tools Under the Tree

  1. As a fellow brand namer, I share your adoration of lists. I recently found a book descriptively titled All Known Metal Bands. It features over 50,000 heavy metal band names. Pure heaven.

    A wonderful list book I no longer have is the directory of Registered Thoroughbred Names. It has hundreds of thousands of horse names. The analog version is out of print, but it can be searched online:

    My favorite list book is American Slogans 1952-1953 by William Sunners. It organizes over 13,000 slogans by the product category (e.g. corsets, dentifrices, tobacco, etc.). It’s a wide-open window to another era.

    It’s true that many specialized dictionaries have a lot of pejoratives. But negative words, especially in the consumer space, can make for some of the most compelling names: Dirty Potato Chips, Lush, Banana Republic, Chrysler Crossfire. People will always assume that a company picked a name for some positive reason, so even a negative word can become a positive brand name.

    Thanks for your site. It’s always good to connect with a fellow namer.

    – Anth

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