Sunday Summary 10.15.23We need to talk about Lewis.

If you’ve been to Target this Halloween season … or been a human being anywhere near the internet … there’s a good chance you’ve seen this festive, eight-foot talking jack o’ lantern in a shroud.

Except if you see it on display in a store, he’ll tell you “I am NOT a Jack O’ Lantern. My name is LEWIS!”

It’s been one of those viral smash hits of the season, and yes, it’s sold out everywhere. There’s still one standing proud near all the candy in my local Target, but the voice activation has either been worn out or disabled by Target employees who decided that hearing Lewis introduce himself eleventy-billion times a day was just. too. much.

So why do we need to talk about Lewis?

It’s one of those moments where something succeeds because it has a name, especially an implausible name.

Lewis sounds like my accountant. A bona fide grown-up, the kind who removes carpet stains and remembers to weatherize his hose bib. Not a ghoulish Halloween delight, presiding over mayhem. Or, y’know, 200-piece bags of fun size Snickers and racks of princess costumes.

Along the same lines: this viral teacher hack. Naming your glue sticks, apparently, will make your students more likely to return them.

Naming matters.

In the most recent Star Wars trilogy, John Boyega played a stormtrooper who becomes disillusioned with his role as a perfect soldier. He takes off his helmet, and adopts a name: Finn.

Names matter.

At a moment when the world is filled with horror and pain and worry, the act of naming – of learning others’ names and acknowledging those names – is a way of acknowledging each others’ humanity. Of our intrinsic value and worth.

Proof? Apply a name to even the most fleeting of things – a holiday decoration, a classroom supply – and we suddenly care about it, lots.


Canada’s data is out! Here’s what’s big for the boys. Find the list of the most popular girls’ names here. Two takeaways: first, yes, Yellowstone is an influence north of the border, too. And Halston, from their girls’ list, is one I fully expect to be big in the US for our daughters any day now.

Swistle weighs in on an impossible situation. They’d love to honor grandpa, but his name doesn’t quite work for their family. Except … I think I’d push harder for James in this situation. It’s not perfect, but it’s closer to the spirit of what they intend. (And I have never believed that honor names have to be Exactly The Same Name. Reinventing names is part of what makes it possible to keep them in use across generations.)

Oh wow … I’d never have thought Samantha Hart was a problematic name. But default email structures mean that her work address almost always ends up being … Which is not great. But, to give her parents a break, I’m pretty sure that idiom didn’t exist until the early 2000s, and she was a 90s kid. So … yeah. But it’s a good reminder to check our child’s first initial/last name combination just in case.

Grandpa names for girls have SO much potential. Totally agree with Kate on this one. I’ve met a baby Bernadette, called Bernie, and I love the name so much. Frederica called Freddie is another one that makes my heart skip a beat.

I’m curious to see The Persian Version. The movie has nothing do with names, except I noticed that the main character is played by an actor named Layla … but the character’s name is Leila. I suspect it’s a very obvious distinction if this is your culture and linguistic tradition, but it’s not one that I understand.

That’s all for today! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

Boy Names 10.15.23 Girl Names 10.15.23


About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. This post on naming matters is so powerful. Names create connections. Relationships are connections. Naming matters.

    Anyone who has ever felt like “just a number” felt the loss of their identity… therefore, some loss of their humanity.

    Names give us distinction, sometimes roots to our hereditary, and define us.

    Often times, if I ask a little kid, “What are you?”, they interpret the question as “WHO are you?” and answer with their name.

    I love, love, love this, Abby. You have encapsulated the core of us onomasticians.

  2. Ok, the shart email is hilarious. I know someone whose email is ballwang, which is equally fantastic.

    1. Ohmygoodness – yes! I completely understand the need for uniformity, but SURELY someone in the IT department can see that it doesn’t *always* work!!