World Wide Mesh (and 49 Other Famous Things that Almost Had Other Names)

March 11, 2019 by John Harrington

Source: imaginima / Getty Images (World Map Credits To NASA)
Many famous books, movies, literary characters, sports teams, and musical groups began life called something else. Which begs the question — would they have been as successful had they retained their original name?

Would the book “1984” be any less compelling if it went by its original title, “The Last Man in Europe”? Would the New York Yankees have become baseball’s greatest juggernaut under their first name after moving to New York, the Highlanders? Can you possibly picture Scarlett O’Hara of “Gone With the Wind” named Pansy instead?

24/7 Wall St. has assembled a list of famous things that were titled something else before gaining immortality under a different name. We used online sources pertaining to music, politics, sports, products, companies, films, and books to create the list.

Click here to see the famous things almost named something else.

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1. Queen
> Almost named: Smile
> Category: Music

The original name of the British chartbusting band was the cringeworthy Smile, derived from a college project of the band’s first lead singer and bassist, Tim Staffell. The name changed in the early 1970s, after frontman Freddie Mercury joined the group. He advocated for the name “Queen” because he wanted the band to sound regal.

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Source: Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images

2. Hannah Montana
> Almost named: Alexis Texas
> Category: TV show

“Hannah Montana,” the Disney television show that launched Miley Cyrus into stardom, was nearly called “Alexis Texas.” But Disney changed the title when a porn star took the name in 2006, just as the TV show was about to debut.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

3. Hermione Granger
> Almost named: Puckle
> Category: Character name

The last name of the quick-thinking heroine in the Harry Potter books was originally Puckle. But author J.K. Rowling, who conceived of the idea for writing the Harry Potter books in 1990, didn’t think it was appropriate for the seriousness of the character and changed it to Granger. She got the name Hermione from a character in the William Shakespeare play “A Winter’s Tale.”

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

4. Friends
> Almost named: Six of One
> Category: TV show

NBC’s blockbuster sitcom about the anxieties and aspirations of six people in New York City spoke for a generation and ran for 10 seasons, ending in 2004. The show received 62 Emmy nominations and made stars out of the six lead actors. “Friends” was originally titled “Six of One,” a somewhat confusing title that was replaced by “Friends Like Us,” which was ultimately shortened to “Friends.”

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Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

5. Led Zeppelin
> Almost named: The New Yardbirds
> Category: Music

Baby boomers might remember the original Yardbirds, who included rock royalty Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton, originally performed in the early to mid-1960s. Page was the only holdover from the original Yardbirds to be in the new band that called itself The New Yardbirds. The story goes that Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest bands of all time, was named by Who drummer Keith Moon, who said the new band would go over like a lead zeppelin.

Source: Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images

6. The Great Gatsby
> Almost named: Trimalchio in West Egg, Under the Red, White, and Blue
> Category: Book

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece went by other titles, among them “Trimalchio in West Egg” and “Under the Red, White and Blue.” Fitzgerald liked the latter title because it stressed the book’s symbolism. In the end, he gave the go-ahead for “The Great Gatsby.”

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

7. Annie Hall
> Almost named: Anhedonia
> Category: Movie

Woody Allen’s original suggestion for the film title was “Anhedonia,” a term that refers to a person’s inability to experience pleasure. But “Anhedonia” was considered unmarketable, and it was jettisoned for other movie titles such as “Rollercoaster Named Desire” and “Anxiety.” “Annie Hall” would win four Academy Awards in 1978, including Best Director for Allen.

Source: Carla216 / Flickr

8. Nancy Drew
> Almost named: Stella Strong, Diana Drew, Diana Dare, Nan Nelson, Helen Hale and Nan Drew
> Category: Character name

Nancy Drew, the sleuthing counterpart of the Hardy Boys, was nearly called Stella Strong, Diana Drew, Diana Dare, Nan Nelson, Helen Hale, and Nan Drew. More than 500 Nancy Drew books have been published since 1930, written by various ghostwriters using the pen name Carolyn Keene.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

9. Titanic
> Almost named: The Ship of Dreams
> Category: Movie

James Cameron’s 1997 epic about the doomed ocean liner hauled in a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including for Best Picture and Best Director. “Titanic” was almost titled “The Ship of Dreams” and “Planet Ice.”

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Source: Carl Court / Getty Images

10. Snapchat
> Almost named: Picaboo or Pictaboo
> Category: Company

Snapchat, the messaging app for ephemeral photos, was originally called either Picaboo or Pictaboo after the game peekaboo. The company’s ghost logo represents the “boo” part. That name lasted until the creators of the app received a letter from a photography book publisher that had the same name. So they changed the name to Snapchat.

Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

11. The Good Wife
> Almost named: The Whole Truth, Leave the Bastard
> Category: TV show

Before naming the television show “The Good Wife,” the creators considered “The Whole Truth” and “Leave the Bastard.” The latter title apparently was a favorite of producer David Zucker. Eventually, “The Good Wife” won out, and the Emmy-honored show ran for seven seasons, ending in 2016.

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Source: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images

12. Oakland Raiders
> Almost named: Oakland Señors
> Category: Sports

Like so many things associated with the Raiders, even their name has a colorful history. After the franchise was established in Oakland, it held a contest to name the team. The winning name, Señors, was submitted by an Oakland policewoman who won a trip to the Bahamas. The name, however, was ridiculed by the media and the public. Worse, some people thought the contest was rigged. Another problem was the team didn’t have the typeface to put the tilde accent mark over the “n.” The team ended up changing the name to Raiders, which had been a finalist in the contest.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

13. Rocky
> Almost named: The Contender
> Category: Movie

“Rocky,” which won three Academy Awards including Best Picture, was originally called “The Contender.” However, the producers believed the prosaic title didn’t reflect the passion or color of the title character, so they changed the title to “Rocky.” The film would launch the most successful sports movie franchise ever, raking in almost $2 billion in box office gross.

Source: Will / Flickr

14. 1984
> Almost named: The Last Man in Europe
> Category: Book

George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, whose very title came to connote a bleak future, was first called “The Last Man in Europe.” The original name was a working title, but Orwell was unsure of it. His publisher, Fred Warburg, suggested “1984” because it was a more commercial-sounding title. The origin of the title “1984” is in dispute.

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15. Playboy
> Almost named: Stag Party
> Category: Company

Hugh Hefner, who helped shape the postwar culture in America, wanted to call his new men’s magazine “Stag Party” in 1953. Hefner said he was looking for a male figure of some kind and thought of an animal in a tuxedo that would set the magazine apart from the competition. A lawyer representing a magazine called “Stag” said “Stag Party” infringed on his client’s copyright. So Hefner changed the magazine’s name to “Playboy.”

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16. Google
> Almost named: BackRub
> Category: Company

Today’s ubiquitous search engine Google that has become one of the most valuable brands in the world was originally called BackRub — a reference to an algorithm — when the company was created in 1996. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin renamed the company Google in 1998, based on a play on the world “googol,” a math term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

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17. Sherlock Holmes
> Almost named: Sherrinford
> Category: Character name

Literature’s most famous detective, renowned also in film and television, might have been called something other than Sherlock Holmes. Apparently, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left written notes suggesting he had considered the name Sherrinford for the sleuth.

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18. Dallas Cowboys
> Almost named: Rangers, Steers
> Category: Sports

“America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, has become famous because of its on-field success as well as brilliance at marketing the franchise. The name Cowboys, however, wasn’t the first choice. After Dallas was awarded an NFL franchise in 1960, the team was known as the Rangers. But the team’s executives were concerned about being confused with a Dallas minor league baseball team by the same name. They changed the name to Steers, but the team’s general manager Tex Schramm objected to that name because “you don’t want your whole football team being castrated.” The owners selected Cowboys, and the rest is NFL history.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

19. Alien
> Almost named: Memory, Star Beast
> Category: Movie

The original script for “Alien” by screenwriter Dan O’Bannon was titled “Memory.” Then it became “Star Beast” before the final title of “Alien.” The movie would take its place among the most horrifying films of all time and would spawn seven sequels. The Alien franchise has grossed more than $1 billion when adjusted for inflation.

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Source: Paul dexxus / Wikimedia Commons

20. The Hawaiian Islands
> Almost named: Sandwich Islands
> Category: Location

The Hawaiian Islands were originally called the “Sandwich Islands.” Famed British explorer James Cook named the islands after the Earl of Sandwich, when Cook landed there in 1778. The islands began to become known as Hawaii from the native language around 1840.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

21. The World Wide Web
> Almost named: The Mesh
> Category: Communications

Software consultant Tim Berners-Lee is credited with creating the name world wide web. While working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, he wanted to create a system for scientists and universities from all around the world to share information. He originally called the system “The Mesh,” but the name sounded too much like mess. Other names considered were “The Information Mine” and “Mine of Information.” Berner-Lee eventually called the system the World Wide Web because it emphasized the “decentralized form allowing anything to link to anything.”

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22. Eggo
> Almost named: Froffles
> Category: Product

Breakfast favorite Eggo waffles, made by the Kellogg Company, were originally called Froffles — a word fusing “frozen” and “waffles.” The name was changed after customers started calling them Eggos because of their egg flavor, and the name was changed in 1955.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

23. Unforgiven
> Almost named: The Cut-Whore Killings
> Category: Movie

Clint Eastwood won the Best Director Oscar for “Unforgiven,” one of four Academy Awards the film won. His commentary on violence in society was almost called something else. The working title for the film was “The Cut-Whore Killings.” The title was from a screenplay by film editor David Webb Peoples, a title some people in the entertainment industry found off-putting.

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24. Green Day
> Almost named: Sweet Children
> Category: Music

The group was called Sweet Children when band member Billie Joe Armstrong was just 14 years old. The band changed its name to Green Day to avoid being confused with another group called Sweet Baby. The name Green Day refers to a day when people smoke marijuana all day.

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25. Blink 182
> Almost named: Duck Tape
> Category: Music

California rockers Blink 182 started out in 1992 as Duck Tape. Then they changed the name to Blink. But they had to change the name again because an Irish band was already called that. The American band added 182 to the name Blink. Why 182? Apparently, that’s how many times Al Pacino drops the f-bomb in the movie “Scarface,” at least according to band members, who are notorious jokesters.

Source: Courtesy of NBC Universal

26. Dracula
> Almost named: Count Wampyr
> Category: Character name

Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula,” at first referred to the infamous vampire as Count Wampyr. As he researched his story, Stoker read about a ruthless figure from the Middle Ages called Vlad III of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad III Dracula, prompting Stoker to change the name to Dracula.

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Source: Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images

27. Yelp
> Almost named: Yocal
> Category: Company

Company founder Jeremy Stoppelman was a fan of the name Yocal when Yelp was considered as the name for his company, which he started in 2004 as an efficient way to connect consumers with businesses. Stoppelman didn’t like Yelp because it sounded like a cry for help. Two other members of the PayPal business incubator that helped launch the company realized the value of the name Yelp and purchased it. Stoppelman was convinced and bought the name from them.

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28. New York Yankees
> Almost named: New York Highlanders
> Category: Sports

The Baltimore Orioles, managed by Hall of Fame manager John McGraw, moved to New York in 1903 and became known as the Highlanders. Though officially called the Highlanders, sportswriters called them Yankees or Yanks because the name fit more easily in headlines. The name Yankees is because they are an American League team, and the British called Americans Yanks. The team officially became the Yankees in 1913, but wouldn’t dominate the baseball world until the 1920s. The Yankees have won 27 world championships and have placed 26 people in the Hall of Fame.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

29. Pretty Woman
> Almost named: 3000
> Category: Movie

The movie “Pretty Woman” made Julia Roberts a star. But that’s not what the hit film was called at first. The original title was “3000,” the fee Roberts’ character charges Edward (Richard Gere) for being with her for a week. The producers tested the movie title with audiences, who found it too science-fiction sounding. “Pretty Woman” would gross more than $178 million.

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30. Ford Mustang
> Almost named: Cougar, Torino, Allegro, and Avventura
> Category: Product

The Ford Mustang, the automotive symbol of youthful independence in the 1960s, might have started out with a different name. Former Ford Motor Company executive Lee Iacocca said the car was named after an animal because that was the trend at the time, including the name Cougar. Other names considered were Torino, Allegro, and Avventura.

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31. The Beach Boys
> Almost named: The Pendletones
> Category: Music

Before their name became associated with California sun, fun, and girls, the Beach Boys were known as the Pendletones. The name was derived from the Pendleton shirts favored by the ’60s’ surfer set. They may have changed their name, but the Beach Boys didn’t change their apparel. The group continued to wear the surf uniform of Pendleton plaid shirts over T-shirts and khaki pants on their album covers.

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32. Memphis Grizzlies
> Almost named: Vancouver Mounties
> Category: Sports

The National Basketball Association came to Vancouver in 1995, and the new franchise wanted a nickname befitting its Canadian residence. The owners initially selected Mounties to salute the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Then they changed the name to Grizzlies since grizzly bears are native to British Columbia and are iconic in western Canada. After six seasons, the team moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where there are no grizzly bears.

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33. Van Halen
> Almost named: Genesis, Mammoth, Rat Salad
> Category: Music

The heavy-metal group named after the Van Halen brothers were called Genesis in the beginning, but dropped that name because of the British progressive rock band of the same name. Then they switched to Mammoth, but another band had that name, too. While still primarily a cover band, the group changed its name to Rat Salad, after a Black Sabbath song..After singer David Lee Roth joined the group, they became Van Halen. Roth claimed the idea was his because he thought the brothers’ last name “sounded cool.”

Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

34. Pepsi
> Almost named: Brad’s Drink
> Category: Product

Pepsi was originally called Brad’s Drink in 1893, named after a North Carolina drugstore owner named Caleb Bradham. He claimed the beverage was a healthful drink (a mix of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other natural additives) and renamed it Pepsi-Cola in 1898. Pepsi comes from the word dyspepsia, which means indigestion, and Bradham believed his refreshing beverage helped digestion. The drink was instantly popular and has become one of the most valuable brands in the world..

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Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

35. Simon & Garfunkel
> Almost named: Tom and Jerry
> Category: Music

America’s premier singing duo in the 1960s started out as a folk group in the late 1950s. In high school, they called themselves Tom and Jerry, after characters from a cartoon. They had a minor hit in 1957 called “Hey Schoolgirl” that got them on the TV show “American Bandstand.” The two started using their real names after they went to college. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel would go on to record the music that became part of the soundtrack of the 1960s.

Source: Leon Neal / Getty Images

36. Tinder
> Almost named: Matchbox
> Category: Company

The online dating app was first named Matchbox but was changed to Tinder to avoid confusion with Match.com, another dating site. Testing results also showed that women liked the sound of the word tinder, which suggests starting a romantic spark.

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37. The Beatles
> Almost named: The Quarrymen, Johnny & the Moondogs
> Category: Music

In 1957, John Lennon started the Quarrymen, named after the Quarry Bank High School for Boys that he attended in Liverpool. The Quarrymen played skiffle, an English music genre that’s a variant of American country and folk music. The lineup changed frequently and eventually would include Paul McCartney and George Harrison by February of 1958. A year later, they were named Johnny & the Moondogs. Then they became a quintet called the Silver Beetles, later changing the spelling to Silver Beatles. By August 1960, they were named the Beatles.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

38. Yahoo!
> Almost named: Jerry’s guide to the World Wide Web
> Category: Company

Web services provider Yahoo! was originally called Jerry’s guide to the World Wide Web. Jerry is Jerry Yang, and along with David Filo, another Stanford University engineer, the two founded the company in 1994. The site wasn’t intended to include searchable pages; it was just a directory of Jerry’s favorite websites. The title was too cumbersome, so they settled on Yahoo! (They added an exclamation point to the name to avoid conflict with a barbecue sauce maker that trademarked Yahoo.) In case you were wondering, Yahoo is an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

Source: MN Chan / Getty Images

39. Mickey Mouse
> Almost named: Mortimer.
> Category: Character name

It’s hard to picture Mickey Mouse, one of the most famous cartoon characters of all time, called something else, yet he was. Walt Disney, the most honored person in Academy Award history, named him Mortimer, but Disney’s wife Lillian detested the name, saying it sounded too arrogant. They settled on Mickey because it sounded more humble and fun. Mickey Mouse debuted on Nov. 18, 1928. The name Mortimer never disappeared from the Disney culture. A character named Mortimer was created in 1936 as a rival to Mickey.

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40. Nike
> Almost named: Blue Ribbon Sports
> Category: Company

Nike was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports and was a distributor for a Japanese shoemaker. The company with the world-famous swoosh symbol later took the name Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory, from a suggestion by employee Jeff Johnson. Founder Phil Knight told CBS News during an interview that his original idea for the company name was Dimension Six, but Knight joked that it would be too hard to fit the name on the heel of a shoe. Nike has become one of the most valuable brands in the world.

Source: dfoster / Flickr

41. Nirvana
> Almost named: Fecal Matter
> Category: Music

The Seattle band that helped introduce grunge to the world was called Fecal Matter in the late 1980s, with singer Kurt Cobain putting out a demo tape under that band’s name around that time. The band went through other name changes such as Skid Row and Ted Ed Fredy before they became Nirvana at the end of 1988 when they cut their first single.

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Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

42. To Kill a Mockingbird
> Almost named: Atticus
> Category: Book

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” one of great works of American literature, and a highly regarded film as well, was almost named “Atticus” by author Harper Lee after the main character in the book. Lee chose “To Kill a Mockingbird” as a metaphor for killing something innocent like a songbird as an evil deed. The last name of Lee’s hero Atticus is Finch, which is also the name of a songbird.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

43. eBay
> Almost named: AuctionWeb
> Category: Company

The auction website eBay was first called AuctionWeb in 1995 and was one of four sites hosted by the company eBay Internet that was founded by Pierre Omidyar. The media is cited as the reason for the name change since they kept referring to the auction site as eBay, and the company made the official name change in 1997.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

44. Candy corn
> Almost named: Chicken Feed
> Category: Product

No one knows for certain who created the waxy faux corn confection, which first appeared in the 1880s during Halloween and has become ubiquitous at Halloween as well as other holidays today. The Goelitz Candy Company popularized the candy in the late 19th century and called it Chicken Feed. By 1898, an advertisement for the treat called it Goelitz Butter Sweet Candy Corn. The treat was aimed to appeal to rural America, since about half of the country’s labor force lived on farms. Confectioners made candy with harvest themes.

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45. Buzz Lightyear
> Almost named: Lunar Larry
> Category: Character name

One of the animated heroes of Pixar’s first feature film “Toy Story” started out as something else. Originally, the character was a mechanical drummer, but that idea was scrapped for a more space-themed toy named Lunar Larry. The character was eventually named Buzz Lightyear, to honor astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. Scarlett O’Hara
> Almost named: Pansy
> Category: Character name

Scarlett O’Hara, one of American literature’s most famous characters, was almost named Pansy by author Margaret Mitchell in the book “Gone With the Wind.” Mitchell called her heroine Pansy for the entire time she was writing the book. Just before “Gone With the Wind” went into print, Mitchell’s publisher prevailed on her to change the name. The book was turned into one of the most successful movies of all time and the first color film to win the Best Picture Oscar.

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

47. Back to the Future
> Almost named: Spaceman from Pluto
> Category: Movie

Writer Robert Zemeckis drafted the script under the title “Back to the Future” that would become a blockbuster. However, Universal Pictures executive Sidney Sheinberg balked at the title, saying any film with the word future in the title would hurt its chances. Sheinberg suggested changing it to “Spaceman from Pluto” to connect with the film’s joke that Michael J. Fox’s character was an alien. Director Steven Spielberg sent a memo to Sheinberg, thanking him for the joke suggestion but rejected it, thus preventing a disastrous name change.

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

48. Subway
> Almost named: Pete’s Super Submarines, Doctor’s Associates Inc.
> Category: Company

Subway, one of America’s biggest food franchises, started out in 1965 as Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The next year, the company changed its name to Doctor’s Associates Inc. because co-founder Peter Buck, who held a doctorate, wanted to earn money to pay off his college tuition. Eventually, Buck and co-founder Fred DeLuca settled on the name Subway, which has grown beyond its Connecticut roots to more than 40,000 franchises worldwide, the most of any fast-food chain.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

49. The White House
> Almost named: President’s Palace, Executive Mansion.
> Category: Landmark

The White House, located on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., was called the President’s Palace on maps in the early 19th century. It was officially called the Executive Mansion in 1810 to avoid suggestions of royalty. President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the residence of the nation’s commander in chief The White House in 1901.

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50. Catch-22
> Almost named: Catch-18
> Category: Book

“Catch-22” was the name of Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel about military incoherence. Following the book’s publication, the term was adopted to mean any unresolvable situation because of contradictory rules. The title was originally “Catch-18,” but Heller’s editor Robert Gottlieb didn’t like it. Novelist Leon Uris had published a book titled “Mila 18” earlier in the year, and Gottlieb feared there might be confusion between the two books. “Catch-11” wasn’t considered because of the film “Ocean’s 11.” Gottlieb settled on 22 because he thought 22 was a funnier number than 18.