Given names, often known as first names or forenames, are an essential part of human identity. Forenames form the basis of our identity, imbue a sense of self, and differentiate us from others in our family and social circles.
Any parent-to-be who’s spent hours poring over a baby name book will tell you that naming a child is a serious business. That’s because names have the power to define an individual. Names can represent the spirit of an era or a moment of creativity. They can hold hopes for the future or serve as a dedication to the past. A name can set a precedent or proudly declare itself an anomaly. From classic names that have existed for hundreds of years to new brand new monikers, one thing is for certain—a name can be anything and can mean everything.
Humans aren’t the only entities that carry names. If the earliest stories are to be believed, we’ve been naming other things for longer than we’ve been naming ourselves. Pets, brands, places, and cultural phenomenons all carry unique signifiers that set them apart from the pack.
Names can also signal authority. The Guinness World Records are the ultimate authority on recording the world’s most amazing accomplishments, and the name is synonymous with incredible feats. Within their large catalog of records, they have also memorialized the most unique qualities of names, from the tongue-twisting longest name on a birth certificate to the shortest, one-letter company names. These records highlight a variety of superlative moments in popular culture, such as the most names credited in a TV broadcast. They also commemorate moments in history, such as the very first documented personal name. Each of these world records is united in a sense of time, place, and achievement.
In celebration of the many dynamics encompassed in a name, Stacker compiled 21 Guinness World Records about names. These records were compiled by consulting the 2019 Guinness World Records database. Do you share a name with a world record holder? Click through to find out.
You may also like: Do you know your state nicknames?
- Record: 203 mentions of "Brett Favre"
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre’s name is the record-holder in this category. Set on Oct. 5, 2009, ESPN’s Michelle Beadle and Colin Cowherd said Favre’s name 203 times on the show “SportsNation.”
- Record: 3,710,044 mentions of "Pocky"
As a unique way to gain exposure, Japanese snack company Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd. set the record in 2003 for the most mentions of a brand name on Twitter in 24 hours by mentioning its frosting-coated crispy stick biscuit brand Pocky 3,710,044 times. The promotion occurred in Japanese in an effort to promote their Pocky Day celebrations that occur annually on Nov. 11.
- Record: (1479 BC)
This record documents the most regal of felines: the first cat to carry its own forename. The worthy holder of this record is a cat dating back to 1479 B.C. under the reign of Thutmose III, bearing the name Nedjem, meaning sweet or pleasant. This cat set the precedent for all pets thereafter.
- Record: Sekhen (3050 BC)
The first surviving personal name was first identified as a hieroglyphic sign of the scorpion in 3050 B.C. Turns out, this record holder was a predynastic king living and reigning in Upper Egypt. Experts have suggested that his name was pronounced Sekhen.
- Record: Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams
A name can say a lot about a person...or maybe it says more about their parents. It’s tough to conclude where the name Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth comes from, but the longest name in the world was given to a baby girl born to Mr. and Mrs. James Williams in Beaumont, Texas, on Sept. 12, 1984. The uniqueness of her name was enough to land the child on "Oprah" in 1997. Since then, no other parents have had the creativity to rival this 57-letter name.
You may also like: 50 ways America is projected to change by 2050
- Record: 2,325 in Kupres, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sometimes a name can bring people together. In this case, the name Ivan united 2,325 people who shared it as their first name in Kupres, Bosnia and Herzegovina. On July 30, 2017, all the Ivans gathered in a stadium with their friends and family to ring in the monumental same first name gathering world record.
- Record: Symbolics.com
In 1983, researchers were in the beginning stages in developing what would eventually become the internet. Once it was up and running and domain registration was open to the world, Symbolics.com was the first domain to be registered. The website of a small investor group in Irvine, California, the site would go down in history as the first and oldest website in existence. Today, the page still exists as a tribute to the internet’s humble origins.
- Record: DNA (207,000 letters long)
While we refer to deoxyribonucleic acid simply as DNA, the systematic name for the DNA of the human mitochondria contains 16,569 nucleotide residues, making it 207,000 letters long. Published in a key form in “Nature” magazine on April 9, 1981, this makes it the world record holder for the longest scientific name.
- Record: 16 children
Giving siblings names that start with the same letter is a cute tradition that also contributes to easily transferable monogrammed hand-me-downs. Canadian parents Eliza and Michel LeBlanc took that tradition to the next level when gave each of their 16 children names starting with the letter E. The names of their 10 boys and six girls are Edith Marie (b. Dec. 22, 1941), Edouard Joseph (b. Feb. 2, 1943), Edgar Joseph (b. May 12, 1944), Everard Joseph (b. May 22, 1945), Edna Marie (b. Jan. 19, 1947), Emery Joseph (b. Aug. 5, 1948), Eymard Joseph (b. Oct. 25, 1949), Eva Marie (b. July 14, 1951), Edouina Marie (b. Feb. 17, 1953), Emeline Marie (June 22, 1954), Emile Joseph (b. Aug. 10, 1955), Eldon Joseph (b. July 19, 1957), Ezard Joseph (b. Oct. 21, 1958), Elie Joseph (b. May 16, 1960), Eliane Estelle Marie (b. July 18, 1962), and Etienne Joseph (b. June 19, 1965).
- Record: 11,091 names (Globo 50 Anos)
Let’s face it, executing a TV broadcast calls for a lot of hands on deck. The show that earns the record for the most names credited for a single broadcast is the special “Globo 50 Anos,” crediting a total of 11,091 names. The show was in celebration of the Brazillian station TV Globo’s 50th anniversary on April 25, 2015. The show paid tribute to its employees by featuring them all in three columns for a 3-minute and 57-second sequence.
You may also like: States with the best and worst animal protection laws
- Record: Harry S. Truman (General)
As communication technology became more advanced, the threat of others listening in on private calls became an increasing concern for presidential security. During Harry S. Truman’s presidency from 1945 to 1953, the president’s security detail required that he have a code name for the Secret Service to use. This was intended to confuse anyone who might be listening in on any communications illicitly. He was given the code name “General.”
- Record: 187 names
Repeat a person’s name after meeting them. Create a mnemonic device. That’s just a few ways people memorize the names of others upon meeting them. At the Hong Kong Open Memory Championship, however, contestants have a much more strategic technique. On Aug. 23, 2015, memory athlete Yanjindulam Altansuh correctly recalled 187 names to faces. Impressive, considering she had just 15 minutes to memorize the names to faces and another 15 to recall them.
- Record: 2 (Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!)
It’s not often that geography incites a lot of excitement, but a few towns do. The one that is arguably the most exciting is the town of Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! In Canada. This town received its name full of gusto in 1874 and holds the world record for the most exclamation marks in a town name.
- Record: C Ltd., E Ltd., H Ltd., I Ltd., K Ltd., L Ltd., P Ltd., Q Ltd., R Ltd., W Ltd., X Ltd., Y Ltd., and Z Ltd.
When choosing a company name, you must take into account many things. The name must be memorable, specific, and sometimes, it must be concise. That’s surely the case with the 13 companies that hold the world record for the shortest company name: C Ltd., E Ltd., H Ltd., I Ltd., K Ltd., L Ltd., P Ltd., Q Ltd., R Ltd., W Ltd., X Ltd., Y Ltd., and Z Ltd.
- Record: 267 tattoos of "Lucy"
Tattoos are a way to memorialize a life event, capture a great work of art, or celebrate the ones you love. Mark Evans of Wrexham, U.K., took it upon himself to create a tattoo tribute to his newborn daughter named Lucy. Her name repeats on his back 267 times and was verified on Jan. 25, 2017.
You may also like: The most obedient dog breeds
- Record: "Pikachurin"
In July 2008, biologists from the Osaka Bioscience Institute in Suita, Osaka Prefecture discovered a vital protein that transmits visual information to the brain. When thinking of a name to call this newly discovered protein, they looked to the fact that the protein is essential for kinetic vision, or being able to detect fast-moving objects, therefore naming it pikachurin after the most famous “Pokemon,” Pikachu, who’s known for his lightning speed.
- Record: France
The country of France takes the world record for the largest number of surnames, with around 1 million patronymics. While some 200,000 surnames have disappeared over the last century, 520,000 surnames have been born.
- Record: 27
You’ve probably never asked yourself, “How many capital cities can I name whilst on a rollercoaster in one minute?” There is, however, an exception in Artjom Pusch, who, at Germany’s Wir Holen Den Rekord Nach Deutschland in Europa Park in Rust on July 18, 2012, named 27 capital cities in one minute while on a rollercoaster.
- Record: 2,250,535 (Chinese Singles Day)
As an effort to promote China’s Singles Day, Chinese social media companies Weibo and Tmall teamed up to set the record for the most mentions of an event name on Weibo in 24 hours with a total of 2,250,535 mentions on Nov. 4, 2016. Users were naming Alibaba’s Singles Day, a shopping event that was to be hosted on Nov. 11.
- Record: The Garrick Theatre (1889)
The world of the theater would be nothing without its treasured actors. Some actors have achieved the honor of having a theater named after them. However, there’s something to be said about the first person to carry that honor. In 1889, David Garrick received such a distinction with the naming of the Garrick Theatre in London, England.
You may also like: What the world was like when your grandparents were born
- Record: 164 Martha Stewarts
The last world record on this list is brought to you by the legend and lifestyle mogul herself, Martha Stewart. Her ubiquitous name is not lost on her. On Sept. 20, 2005, she gathered 164 Martha Stewarts on her TV show “Martha!” on-air in New York City. This gathering earned a world record for the largest gathering of people with the same first and last name ever recorded.
You may also like: Polar bears and 50 other species threatened by climate change