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What's in a Name?

The appalling appellations of babies, brands, and backronyms. See sources <a href="/news/exhibit/2006/11/exhibit_sources.html" target="new">here</a>.

THE NUMBER OF companies "re-branding" themselves has risen 15% since 2005.

AMONG 150 FICTITIOUS company names invented by a British satirical website in 2002, Ualeo, Ovisovis, and Bivium have since become the names of real companies.

ACCORDING TO a recent survey in Ad Week, consumers consider names starting with "B," "C," and "S" to be "traditional" while those starting with "Q," "V," "X," and "Z" are thought to be "innovative."

IN 2002, the holding company Axa changed its name to Xignux, because it "wanted to conserve the equity it held in the letter X."

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TO AVOID confusion, in 2003 drug companies put a moratorium on names for generics starting with "X" or "Z."

ADOBE SYSTEMS is fighting the use of "photoshop" as a verb. Instead it recommends "the image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software."

TO AVOID A pronunciation that translates to "dog dog" in Mandarin, Google calls itself "goo-guh" in China, which means "harvesting song."

THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY holds trademarks on "Hubbard," "celebrity," "flag," "high winds," "purification," "key to life," "the way of happiness," and "truth revealed."

MANY CHURCHES have dropped "Baptist" from their names. Says the pastor of one such church: "Some people mistakenly associate the Baptist name with an angry, judgmental kind of fundamentalism."

SINCE 1961, the Southern Baptist Convention has considered dropping the word "Southern" 8 times.

MARGARET MITCHELL considered naming Gone With the Wind, which she began while bedridden with a broken ankle, Tote the Weary Load.

THANKS TO A $10 million gift, Columbus Children's Hospital will soon break ground on the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center.

A $100 MILLION GIFT from a University of North Dakota alumnus is dependent on the school defying an NCAA ban against racist mascots and keeping the "Fighting Sioux."

LAST WINTER, an Indiana elementary school changed its mascot from the Hurricanes to the Huskies. Said the principal, "We want to be something kinder and gentler, something that's more, 'Come and join us.'"

IN 1993, the Exxon Valdez was rechristened the SeaRiver Mediterranean.

LAST YEAR Clark, Texas, renamed itself DISH in exchange for a decade of free satellite television. And Agra, Oklahoma, became Viagra for 2 days in exchange for country music concert tickets for every resident.

AMONG THE 50 million registered .com Internet addresses are 550 that meet the 63-character limit, such as

THE THAI WORD for "Bangkok" is 164 letters long and tells the city's history.

TO PROTEST a wind turbine, Llanfynydd, Wales, changed its name to a 66-letter Welsh word meaning "a quiet beautiful village, an historic place with a rare kite under threat from wretched blades."

IN 1965, writers of the 1951 song "Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus" sued Disney over the Mary Poppins song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." The songwriters lost.

IN 2002, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who was born William George Perks, threatened to sue American journalist Bill Wyman for using his name.

THIS YEAR, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America changed its name to the American Association for Justice, to "reflect whose side we're on."

IN SEPTEMBER, an Idaho gubernatorial candidate changed his name to "Pro-Life." Last year, a candidate for U.S. Senate changed his middle name to "None of the Above" (but couldn't put it on the ballot), and an aspiring Russian governor changed his name to "Harry Potter" (he lost).

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