Thoroughly modern eMillie

In the land of e-everything, parents practice the e-naming of Gen E babies: eLiza, eThan -- anything with an e-prefix.

Penny Perkins
March 13, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

As the Internet continues to recast the economic and social landscape of the United States, a new dot-com fad has arisen: the e-naming of babies.

As is well documented in William Safire's bestselling "On E-Language" (available exclusively by digital download on, the whole e-naming craze began with the term e-mail -- Al Gore's time-saving contraction for electronic mail, a widely used application of the Internet he invented.


Gore's convention quickly gained popularity, becoming, as some cybercommentators have noted, an e-clichi. As Alan Greenspan grappled with the shift from retail to e-tail, companies, products and Web sites sporting the e-convention became legion (and insufferable): not just and, but and and on and e-on. In no time, the trend spiraled off the Net and into "real life" with the e-naming of babies.

Yes, dot-com millionaires and ordinary folks alike caught up in Internet fever have begun e-christening the so-called "Generation E," born in the first decade of this new century. A recent survey of hospitals in Silicon Valley shows the emerging popularity of eJennifer, eMichael, iMichael, the thoroughly retro eEthel, and, a favorite among "Frasier" fans, iClaudius. The craze has also surfaced in the re-spelling of conventional names, notably eThan, iLene, and eLaine. Wait a generation and we'll surely see the "Mini Me" effect, in which those bearing a once trendy name usher in the likes of eBrittany, iTyler and iBrandon.

In Kansas, meanwhile, the old-fashioned girl's name Dot is in the midst of a popular resurgence (invariably followed, of course, by the middle name Com). "There's no place like homepage!" were reportedly the first words uttered by a 6-day-old Dot Com Baum from Lawrence, whose mother read children's classics aloud to the iNfant while Dot was still in the SEC-sanctioned quiet period of the womb.

Not to be outdone, the parents of boys have upped the e-ante: In some hip corners of the baby appellation world, IPO -- Initial Parental Offspring -- is gaining popularity as a first name, but only for the first biological son of a couple's first marriage.

This e-naming trend seems to have confounded pundits and medical experts alike: A spokesbot from had no, and I quote, dot comment.

It seems the trend was anticipated by no one -- except lawyers. The first e-naming suit was filed by the Apple design team against a group of California parents, who have championed the name iMack for their sons. "Clearly, this is copyright infringement. We've already received a temporary restraining order from the Ninth Circuit -- friends and family must call these children i-boy or e-son until a final decision has been reached," noted Apple attorney Thomas Penfield Jackson, on temporary leave from his new position as Microsoft West corporate counsel.


E-naming has also provoked a furious response from the Jaded Organization of Habitual Namers (JOHN), headed by Jennifer and Michael Jones. In a recent press release, posted on their Web site, the childless couple notes: "JOHN advises parents not to engage in any type of baby-naming trend. History has proven that such trends only serve to damage children's self esteem and embarrass the nation. As a cautionary tale, we need only remind you of the unfortunate spate of 'place names' that infected the entertainment industry in the last century -- Tennessee Williams, Minnesota Fats, River Phoenix.

"You and your children will surely live to regret e-names," say the Joneses. "Frankly, we find the whole practice e-gregious."

Penny Perkins

Penny Perkins is the author of the humorous novel "Bob Bridges: An Apocalyptic Fable," and is the alternative media guide for

MORE FROM Penny Perkins


Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address


Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •