By Jess Goulart
Photo courtesy of Ken Lund.
Some nicknames are just the worst, and it’s always those we hate the most that stick.
But even if you’re called Dumpy or No Toes or Rabies, take comfort in knowing you don’t have to sign your emails like that. You don’t have to broadcast it at work, or introduce yourself with it at parties.
However, if you live in a place that’s name makes you blush, there’s not much you can do besides move.
Take, for example, the poor folk of Effin, Ireland. Their village caused a media frenzy in 2011 when Facebook blacklisted the name, disallowing Effin resident Ann Marie Kennedy from registering it as her hometown on the platform. In response, Kennedy launched a campaign to get Effin recognized.
“I’m a proud Effin woman,” she told Daily Mail, “and always will be an Effin woman.”
A far cry from its current connotations, the name Effin allegedly evolved from the patron saint Eimhin, who dates back to the sixth century. Though Kennedy asserted that Facebook informed her the name was offensive, they denied the allegations and insisted the oversight was due solely to the small size of the village–about 1,000 people.
Either way, now not only can travelers check into Effin, but the village even has its own Facebook group. Denis O’Dwyer, a member of the group and resident of Effin for years, tells BTR it is “a beautiful little village. Friendly, thriving, an active community with a wealth of history.”
In the greater UK there’s no shortage of “rude” names, and internet listicles of the dirtiest to boot. Dotting the rolling hills of the English countryside you can find Nob End, Scratchy Bottom, and Shitterton. The blog Now. Here. This. even wrote an article called “22 Naughty London Place Names.”
Back across the pond in Newfoundland, Canada, there exists a town with this choice moniker:
Photo courtesy of Pamela Dyer.
Conde Nast Traveler reports that the ties of the name to the sex toy are “uncertain at best,” pointing out that “dildo” was used as early as 1711 to describe any cylindrical object.
In the ‘80s, an electrician named Robert Elford fought to have Dildo’s name changed, circulating a petition to the residents. In 1995, he explained to The Independent, “things always got a bit sticky for my son when people asked him where he lived.”
In the end his efforts were unsuccessful. The town seemed to embrace the uniqueness of their home’s name and began an annual Dildo Days Festival, selling t-shirts and coffee mugs that read “I Survived Dildo Days.”
Obviously, we want one.
Like Dildo, other Canadian settlements began innocently enough but accrued new, giggle-worthy meanings over the years, like The Newfoundland Provincial Park of Blow Me Down which was named for a mountain with high winds on its peak.
That’s not to say some names weren’t given with an intentional wink. According to historians, the area’s settlers, Captain Cook and his surveyor Michael Lane, were not without a sense of humor. Thus, it’s littered with tongue and cheek eponyms, like Witless Bay or Cuckold’s Cove.
Photo courtesy of Doug Kerr.
Lest you think America immune, there’s a heap of ill-fated municipalities in the States too, perhaps the most well-known of which is Intercourse, PA.
No one is sure where the town got its name. Possibly it was in reference to the intersection of several main roads, which the real estate developer noted on his advertisement for new residents, or because when the town was established in 1814 “intercourse” implied “pleasant mutual friendship.”
But similar to those in Dildo, small business owners in Intercourse seem to appreciate rather than dislike the infamy.
“This is a big tourist area, and people from out of state are interested in the town names,” Steve Kelley, owner of a store called Spare Thyme in Intercourse, told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
So if you happen to be tagged with an unfortunate nickname, perhaps you should follow Effin, Dildo, and Intercourse’s lead: create a Facebook group, make up some t-shirts, and embrace the attention.