Naming Woes

By Summer Rak

Names identify us. Label us. They have their own meanings. They can be sentimental, or the bane of one’s existence. In naming my phage, I would opt for the latter. I tried to be symbolic and sentimental, but I could only come up with corny names like “Snowflake” or “Clothespin” (trust me those were the good ones). None of them were particularly inspiring. So I figured I would try to be ironic and name it “Rambo” after my favorite movie character of all time. It’s ironic because my plaques and phage are quite tiny and not particularly interesting, which is the complete opposite of Rambo. Although they did seem to have some hidden aesthetic similarities…

But there are some rules associated with phage naming that I only found out after I had chosen the name and after I had dressed up the phage. Now I was really in a dilemma. I had to go back to square one. I tried to think up some more worthy names and I got as far as “Burrito” and “Diablo”. (I was eating Mexican food that day). I had nothing; I was empty of ideas. I was almost considering giving it a people name—the epitome of rock-bottom (no offense to the people who give their phages people names). But it’s like naming a cat “Paul”, it’s not as fun as “Buck-a-Roo” or “Hip-Hop” (my cat’s names). If I couldn’t figure out a deep and meaningful name then I needed to have a funny one. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to think of something clever and ironic. So I sat down and gave it some serious thought. Once again I came up with cutting-edge names like “Catzilla” and “Catshup”…then I remembered I wasn’t naming a cat!

Then I entertained the idea of calling it “Smeg Devil” but I thought that broke the rules of phage naming. I was stuck. My next tactic was to close my eyes, spin a circle, and named it the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes: for a while it appeared “Chifferobe” would be my new phage. Until one morning I glanced over one of my plates and I could have sworn that the plaques made a shape of a face, but when I tried to focus on it more clearly I couldn’t see it anymore. Just like that a name hit me, almost like it was meant to be. Although not very glamorous, that one moment on a random Tuesday morning I was able to achieve the sentiment aspect at least. From then on I called my phage “Mosaic”. When I look back on my ridiculous naming process and the time I spent wondering and worrying, I can’t believe it. After I finally decided on Mosaic and was 110% confident in my decision I realized I would have probably just as happy naming it Snowflake.

Then I went on phagesdb to see if my beloved name had already been taken. It had, 3 years ago, but SmegDevil hadn’t. Let’s see if it gets approved!

Gotta love Phage Lab.

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