Names of the Year 2020


On January 24, 2021, the American Name Society held its 14th annual Name of the Year vote.  For the very first time in ANS history, this deliberation was held as a part of the virtual conference.  Twenty-three scholars from around the world took part in the discussions to select the winners for each of the onomastic categories as well as in the selection of the overall name of the year.  Here are the results of this year’s vote:


This anthroponym was the name of the African-American man who was killed on May 25, 2020 while being placed under arrest by four police officers.  To the horror of onlookers, during the arrest, one of the officers knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, resulting in his death from asphyxiation.  In swell of protest against this and other gruesome acts of police brutality, the name George Floyd changed from a personal name to an international civil rights anthem to call against systemic racism and for the protection of minorities. 


This toponym gained international prominence as the name of the geographic location where the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 was recorded.  The place name became the basis for many new formations that referenced the corona virus isolated in 2019 and the infectious deadly disease associated with it, COVID19 (Corona Virus Disease -2019).


As the most of the globe found itself in various stage of lockdown, people increasing turned to the virtual means to keep in contact with one another. Within the world of work, this trend resulted in the meteoric rise of internet services that allowed for group meetings large and small.  One of the most commonly used services was Zoom.  The popularity of Zoom is reflected in the many inventive words that were coined from this tradename (e.g. zoombombing and zoom fatigue).



Although health restrictions have resulted in many of us being prohibited from our favorite outdoor entertainment pass times.  From going to the movies to watch the latest blockbuster to spending hours browsing the titles of the newest publications in our favorite bookstore.  This does not mean that entertainment has stopped in the age of COVID19.  It has simply gone indoors.  This movement was reflected in the choice for this onomastic category: Schitt’s Creek.  This onomastic gem is the name of the Emmy award-winning sitcom that won waves as homebound audiences tuned into Netflix to watch the adventures of Daniel and Eugene Levy.  The ingenious literary word play on the idiom “to be up *sh-t’s creek” as well as the media’s fight to find novel ways of making reference to the show without causing their audiences offense were lauded as primary reasons for selecting this name as the winner of this category


According to popular lore, in an effort to conceal his/her/their, the leader(s) of this movement, does by the simple initial “Q” which is short for the full clandestine name, Q Clearance Patriot.  The element “anon” is taken from the abbreviation for the word “anonymous”.  Originally, the term was used to refer to people who anonymously posted information, often considered classified, on the internet. In combination with the initialized personal name “Q”, “anon(s)” means “follower(s) of”.  Once primarily an online phenomenon, this net organization has branched out to become an international extremist movement with far-right paramilitary branches. 


On January 4, 2020, the World Health Organization reported on social media that a cluster of pneumonia cases had been identified in Hubei province of China.  A day later, the WHO published an official report warning that based on the experience gathered during the deadly SARS contagion just a few years before, governments should take stringent precaution to guard against the spread of this newly identified corona virus should be taken to control its spread.  By the end of the month, the organization reported that more than seven thousand cases of the virus had been confirmed worldwide.  Since then, SARS-CoV-2 has become a deadly pandemic, with millions of people suffering from the short and long-term impact of COVID19 (Corona Virus Disease -2019). In countries around the world, the acronym COVID19 has become one of the fastest spreading English loans in international vocabularies.   


For the first time in many years, a tie was reached in the vote for the overall winner in 2020.   After much discussion, it was decided that two names deserved this special honor.  The first was COVID19 (Corona Virus Disease -2019).  The second winner was the anthroponym Kamala, the first name of the first woman to be voted into the office of Vice President of the United States of America.  Meaning ‘lotus flower’ or ‘garden’, this beautiful moniker reflects the beauty and grace of its namesake, Vice President Kamala Devi Harris.  The Hindi origin of this personal name also represents the diversity of the elected official and the nation she has been elected to serve. 



OVERALL NAME OF THE YEAR: Arrokoth (newly discovered minor planet)

ARTISTIC/LITERARY NAME: Baby Yoda (unnamed Star Wars character in The Mandalorian)

E-NAME: #Fridaysforfuture (hashtag for climate protests)

PERSONAL NAME: Greta Thunberg (Swedish climate activist)

PLACE NAME: Arrokoth (newly discovered minor planet)

MISCELLANEOUS NAME: Antivax(x)er (people opposed to vaccination)

TRADE/PRODUCT/BRAND NAME: TikTok (Chinese app for making short videos)



OVERALL NAME OF THE YEAR: Jamal Khashoggi (assassinated Washington post journalist)

ARTISTIC/LITERARY NAME: Wakanda (fictional African country in the Marvel “Black Panther” comic and movie)

PERSONAL NAME: Jamal Khashoggi (assassinated Washington post journalist)

PLACE NAME: Paradise (California city largely leveled in the devastating “Camp Fire”)

TRADE/BRAND/PRODUCT NAME: Gritty (new mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers)

MISC. NAME: #MeToo (Twitter hashtag for the movement to speak out about sexual abuse)



OVERALL NAME OF THE YEAR: Rohingya (Islamic group targeted for genocide by the Myanmar government)

ARTISTIC/LITERARY NAME: Nambia (non-existent country cited by American President Trump in a speech)

PERSONAL NAME: Maria (name of the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in September 2017)

PLACE NAME: Charlottesville (Virginia, site of a violent neo-Nazi rally)

MISC: NAME: #MeToo (Twitter hashtag for the movement to speak out about sexual abuse)



OVERALL NAME OF THE YEAR: Aleppo (the name of the largest city in Syria, which has endured over four years of war, and has become a symbol for the horrors of modern warfare)

ARTISTIC/LITERARY NAME: Hamilton (the name of an enormously popular Broadway musical in which a cast  member stepped out of character during a November 18th showing and made the famous statement: “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”)

PERSONAL NAME: Drumpf (the original German form of President Donald Trump’s family name)

TRADE/PRODUCT/BRAND NAME: Brexit (a word blend of Britain and Exit, this name was given to the referendum in which UK voters decided to leave the European Union); and Uber (the name of an international online transportation network that has now become a verb)