Originally published May 4, 2011
Who hasn’t had the frustrating experience of regretting having missed a big game that everyone talks about the next day? Actually, The Name Inspector hasn’t–for a reasonably sporty fellow he’s oddly immune to the normal enthusiasms of sports spectatorship. Don’t get him wrong, he can appreciate a well caught ball, an impressive defensive maneuver, or even a good pummeling as much as the next guy. He’s just happy to take these things as they insert themselves into his zone of attention. But more to the point: The Name Inspector knows there are lots of people out there who do have that frustrating experience, and that’s why he can appreciate the ingenuity of Thuuz.
Thuuz is a startup that assigns an “excitement score” in real time to sporting events, notifies fans when things get especially thrilling, and even tells them how they can tune in to share the excitement. Pretty great idea, right? (If it really works. But let’s face it, the users of this are going to be big sports fans. They’re just looking for more excuses to watch sporting events.)
But then we have the name Thuuz. The Name Inspector is not a fan. Clearly it’s built on the bones of the words enthused, enthusiasm, and enthusiastic. So far so good–apt, if a bit pedestrian. But that syllable is pretty weird sounding. It’s really the first consonant and the vowel together that sound odd. The Name Inspector talked about this in connection with the name Thoof a while back. He quite reasonably declared that the “Thoo-” part was a bit counterintuitive in English, and then this smartypants named John commented that it was an accident of history that there is no word thoof, and The Name Inspector held his ground, and John was all “what about enthusiasm“, and The Name Inspector was like “good point but what about at the beginning of a word”, and John was all “historical linguistics blah blah”. So clearly The Name Inspector won that round.
The real problem with Thuuz is the spelling, which uses not one but two cheesy alterations: the double vowel and the z at the end. Thuze would be more straightforward–the founders were probably unable to acquire the domain thuze.com. In Thuuz the “uu” performs an odd function of sorts, because if the name were spelled Thuz people might think it rhymes with fuzz. But the “uu” is just weird. (And now John is going to say “What about the word vacuum“, and The Name Inspector will be all “It’s still unusual”, and the disagreement will escalate until there’s a fistfight followed by an exhausted moment of bonding, just like in a bromance movie, and an unbeatable linguistic duo is formed.)
This is one of those names that will have to be spelled for anyone who hears it without seeing it.
Fans are really great about jumping and shouting and being noticed and painting their chests purple. The Name Inspector thinks that non-fans need to stand up and get noticed sometimes, too. So here he is. He wishes the founders of Thuuz the best of luck with their startup, but he’s got to say, “Let’s not hear it for the name Thuuz!”
Update 2/3/2024: Since writing this The Name Inspector has, largely under the influence of his sons, become a big fan of both the Seattle Sounders and the Seattle Seahawks, and does get disappointed about missing their games. Please keep this in mind when evaluating him as a potential friend or employee.