Stroll through the hipper districts of any American city in 2014 and you may experience the sense of time being slightly out of joint. On shop signs and menus, words that last flourished a couple of centuries ago—or earlier—have been making a comeback. But no word from the distant past is as antique, or as popular in commerce in so many disparate ways, as apothecary.  Continue reading...
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In the world of branding, coined and contorted names often hog all the attention. Less commented-on are the successful contemporary brand names with long pedigrees: "real" dictionary words that have been used by English speakers for centuries.  Continue reading...
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Long before the advent of air conditioning, ice cream, sherbet, and their frozen cousins provided edible relief for summer heat — if you were rich enough to afford them. Today, these icy treats are democratic and diverse, and their names, both generic and trademarked, tell rich stories about language and history. Here are some of the tastiest.  Continue reading...
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Easter, which this year falls on April 20, is an important religious holiday for millions of Christians. It's also a major candy holiday, now second only to Halloween in the United States. But there's more to Easter candy than sugar and food dye: there's also some fascinating linguistic and brand history.  Continue reading...
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In February, Nokia announced a new hybrid device called Nokia X. No, the name is not a generic placeholder until something catchier comes along. It's the official name of the phone. Mysterious and austere, simple yet highly symbolic, the name is representative of a dominant branding trend of our era. In nearly every category of commerce, X marks the spot.  Continue reading...
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During Hollywood movie-awards season — which culminates this year on March 2 with the Academy Awards show — honors are handed out for acting, editing, visual effects, music, makeup, and costumes. One category, however, has never had a chance to shine: the often creative, sometimes wacky names of film production companies.  Continue reading...
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How to choose the most important brand names of a year? Some lists emphasize companies' value, others sales volume, and still others ad spending. I look for brands that are newly prominent or notable in the last year. Then I factor in the brand names' linguistic significance and the degree to which they represent naming trends or breakthroughs.  Continue reading...
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