What’s In A Name

From the beginning of time humans have named all people, places, and things.  Nothing that exists is without a name.  The history of names might be an interesting search some day, but I’m more interested right now in why things are named as they are.

Like street names, or town names.  I once came across a book that was called, something to the effect of “Odd Towns of Kentucky.”  My two favorite names were Hell Creek, KY and it’s more fate-cementing, ominous brother town of Hell For Certain Creek, KY (LOL).  I would love to hear the story behind that!

Maybe a list of strange and bizarre town and city names would make for a hilarious writing prompt (hint hint wink wink).

What about nicknames – the shortened, the quirky, the endearing and enduring.  I wonder who came up with Mickey D’s for McDonalds, or Wally World for Wal-Mart? These have spread like wildfire and are probably used all over the U.S. from Likely, CA to Lovely, KY.

Nicknames, however, are generally terms of endearment used to express affection and love towards people rather than places.  There are two forms of nicknames, my favorite being the ones we call “pet names” 😉

A “pet name” is technically called a hypocorism.  It is a name used between people in love or sharing a close emotional bond.  I’m quite glad the word “hypocorism” has been nicknamed “pet names”.  I can’t imagine flattering my loved ones with something that sounds like a tumorous-growth-in-the-neck condition.

Another form of nicknames is called a “diminutive”, which is the shortened version of a longer name, again mostly used with people (Dave from David, Susan from Susannah, Mike from Michael, Dick from Richard …)

Say what?

Those poor Richards 😦

I use both diminutive and pet names for my beloved babies. Toby is actually Tobias and Timba is Timbavati.  My pages above discuss how I came to name them in greater depth. However, as time goes by I seem to be coming up with new nicknames to call my pets.

One day Toby Tuesday popped out of my mouth.  Obviously it was a Tuesday.  But it sounded cute and fun, and was the start of a short stint of Toby Tuesdays (celebration of Toby on his own special day of the week).

Mostly though I call Toby “Toby Bear” because he was like a teddy bear snuggled in my arms every night for bedtime.  The other nickname that’s evolved for Toby is Mr. Question Mark.  He always has his tail postured like a question mark, which according to animal behaviorists is suggestive of a playful mood. He greets me this way every day after work, hopping on my bed for his daily “me and mom” time.

Being number two in line of adoption, Timba’s nicknames  are somewhat offshoots of Toby’s.  One day I found myself calling him Honey Bear, due to his coloration and the whole teddy bear ‘sleep with me at night’ concept.  I love love love to call him Honey Bear, so much that he probably thinks it’s his real name by now.

Like Toby, Timba’s other main nickname came from a quirky aspect of his body.  I sometimes call him Mr. Whisker.  According to an article I once read on www.catster.com, whiskers not only function as spacial detectors for cats, but they also convey certain emotional states.

If a cat’s whiskers are smoothed back, they are perhaps submissive, fearful, or even relaxed.  If the whiskers are pointing forward, they are indicative of interest and curiosity.  After reading the article, I watched Timba’s whiskers, and sure enough, they stand out and forward when he is psyched and interested in something.  Those long white curiosities move all the time now that I’m in tune with it.

And last but not least, both of my boys get called the ever popular Boo Boo.  It’s just too fun not to use.  My heart swells stupidly thinking about using these names.  It makes me wish I were home with my little gifts from God calling them silly affectionate names rather than writing about them.

As names and nicknames are so interesting, please feel free to leave a comment describing your favorite “pet names” for your animals.  Also, here’s a link to odd names not just from Kentucky, but all states.  Very amusing as well 🙂



One thought on “What’s In A Name

  1. Pennsylvania has some of the weirdest town names I’ve ever seen such as Nanty Glo, Jim Thorpe and Intercourse. My torti’s full name is Geneveive but I call her Jenny; also JennyJen, and “pretty girl.” Rameses is the 2 year old ginger; he doesn’t respond to that name but to “handsome.” I also call him “mellow yellow” when he gets all mellow on me. I love the names and nicknames for your kitties. 🙂


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