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The Avatar Last Name is an avatar name chosen from a predetermined list assigned by Linden Lab. Since the last name list is compiled by Linden Lab (as opposed to the first name being chosen by the resident), the names can reveal much about the mindset of the Lindens. Last names often refer to significant people, places, or events, either in history or in popular culture and literature.
Registration limits per last name
Up until sometime in 2006, when 150 new members chose the same last name, the name was permanently retired from the list, (although there was a lot of discussion between residents and Linden Lab to change this policy for certain names). This limit is based upon a social theory presented in The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by journalist Malcolm Gladwell. According to Gladwell, 150 is the maximum number of people a person can remember and remain familiar with.
From some unspecified point in 2006, this was changed. Names are cycled manually by Linden Staffers who aim for an average of about 1000 first names per last name. Some popular last names may get many more registrants before they can be changed over. This policy change was not discovered until 30 November 2006.
The most significant Last Names
- Babka is a reference to a sweet spongy yeast cake traditionally baked for Easter Sunday.
- Baker likely refers to British actor Tom Baker (Jan. 20, 1934 - ), who is most famous as being the fourth actor to play Doctor Who on the science fiction program of the same name.
- Bessie is taken from American screenwriter Alvah Bessie (Jun. 4, 1904 - Jul. 21, 1985), who was also one of the Hollywood Ten, the film professionals who refused to testify before the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee regarding involvement in American Communist Party and were blacklisted as a result. Bessie is just one of many references to the Hollywood Ten in the Linden's last name list.
- Biberman is taken from American screenwriter and director Herbert Biberman (Mar. 4, 1900 - Jun. 30, 1971), who was also one of the Hollywood Ten.
- Bogart refers to the American actor Humphrey Bogart (Dec. 25, 1899 - Jan. 14, 1957).
- Cinquetti is likely a reference to Italian singer Gigliola Cinquetti (December 20, 1947 - ).
- Cole is likely a reference to American screenwriter Lester Cole (Jun. 19, 1904 - Aug. 15, 1985), another member of the Hollywood Ten.
- Dalek is a reference to the Daleks, the war-like aliens from the Doctor Who science fiction series.
- Debs is a reference to Eugene Debs (Nov. 5, 1855 - Oct. 20, 1926), an early 20th-century American political activist, labor leader, and five-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.
- Deckard likely comes from the name of the main character out of the 1982 film Blade Runner, Deckard.
- Doctorow is the surname of novelist and Creative Commons activist Cory Doctorow (Jul. 17, 1971 - ), who was the first person offered the name when he gave an interview and virtual book signing for his book Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. The name has since been opened to new users.
- Dmytryk is another reference to Hollywood Ten, namely American film director Edward Dmytryk (Sept. 4, 1908 - Jul. 1, 1999).
- EarlyCreator was perhaps the first ever Resident last name to be usable by the public. Used for Alpha or Beta residents to mark their status as early creators of the world.
- Ebisu is a god of Japanese mythology and is the god of fishermen, workingmen and good luck, as well as the guardian of health of small children. Ebisu is also a fictional character from the manga and anime Naruto. There are also several other potential meanings from Japanese culture.
- Eccleston is another reference to the British science fiction show Doctor Who, as British actor Christopher Eccleston played the ninth role as the Doctor.
- Eichel is German for "acorn", slang for gland.
- Electricteeth is a person who has cybernetic dental enhancements or implants.
- Huckleberry is probably a reference to Mark Twain's eponymous character in the classic book, Huckleberry Finn.
- Lardner likely refers to American journalist and screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. (Aug. 19, 1915 - Oct. 31, 2000), another blacklisted as part of the Hollywood Ten.
- Lawson likely refers to John Howard Lawson (Sept. 25, 1894 - Aug. 14, 1977), American writer who was also part of the Hollywood Ten.
- Lefebvre likely refers to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a Roman Catholic bishop who took the lead in opposing the reforms within the Catholic Church associated with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
- Fassbinder is a reference to Rainer Werner Fassbinder (May 31, 1945 - Jun. 10, 1982), a German film director and actor who was part of the New German Cinema movement in the 1960s to 1980s.
- Hutchence likely refers to Michael Hutchence (Jan. 22, 1960 - Nov. 22, 1997), frontman for the Australian rock band, INXS.
- Ludd refers to the mythical character Ned Ludd or King Ludd, who was supposedly the founder of the Luddite social movement, which protested the changes of the Industrial Revolution by destroying textile machines.
- Maltz refers to Albert Maltz (Oct. 28, 1908 - Apr. 26, 1985), author and screenwriter, another member of the Hollywood Ten and blacklisted in Hollywood as a result of his refusal to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947.
- Maginot makes reference to the Maginot Line, the defensive line of static concrete fortifications that the French emplaced on the border of Germany and Italy following World War I and was neutralized by the Germans by their invasion of Belgium and the Netherlands early in World War II.
- McLuhan comes from Marshall McLuhan (Jul. 21, 1911 - Dec. 31, 1980), a Canadian philospher, professor, and communications theorist. He is most famous for saying that "The medium is the message".
- Melville takes its name from American writer Herman Melville (Aug. 1, 1819 - Sept. 28, 1891).
- Milosz likely comes from Nobel Prize-winning Polish-born poet and essayist Czesław Miłosz (Jun. 30, 1911 - Aug. 14, 2004).
- Minogue likely refers to Australian pop singer and actress Kylie Minogue (May 28, 1968 - ).
- Mondrian refers to the Dutch painter Mondrian|Piet Mondrian (Mar. 7, 1872 - Feb. 1, 1944).
- Mostel is a reference to stage actor Zero Mostel (Feb. 25, 1915 – Sept. 8, 1977), who is famous for his film role as Max Bialystock in the Mel Brooks' 1968 film, The Producers.
- Nico is taken from the stage name of Christa Päffgen, commonly known as Nico (Mar. 15, 1938 - Jul. 18, 1988), a German-born model, actress, and female vocalist for the American rock band, the Velvet Underground.
- Nilsson is taken from the name of Harry Nilsson (Jun. 15, 1941 - Jan. 15, 1994), American singer-songwriter, who penned such songs as "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Coconut".
- Odets comes from Clifford Odets (Jul. 18, 1906 - Aug. 18, 1963), an American socialist playwright, screenwriter, and social protestor.
- Ornitz comes from the last name of Samuel Ornitz (Nov. 15, 1890 - Mar. 10, 1957), an American screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood Ten and blacklisted by Hollywood studio bosses at the end of McCarthyism.
- Pascal is a reference to the French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662), who was most well known for his work with mechanical calculators, pressure and vacuum, projective geometry, and probability theory. The programming language Pascal was named after him.
- Pasteur is, of course, a reference to the French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895), credited with the discovery of the vaccine against rabies.
- Pertwee likely refers to British actor Jon Pertwee (July 7, 1919 – May 20, 1996), who is most famous as being the third actor to play Doctor Who on the science fiction program of the same name.
- Protagonist is not only the central character in a story, according to classical narrative theory, but most likely in reference to the main character in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist. Protagonist was one of the names that came from the original Beta test.
- Rand likely comes from Russian-born, American novelist and founder of the philosophy of Objectivism, Ayn Rand (Feb. 2, 1905 - Mar. 6, 1982). Rand was one of the last names that could be chosen in the original Beta test.
- Reitveld is a corruption of the name of Gerrit Rietveld (Jun. 24, 1888 - Jun. 26, 1964), Dutch designer, architect and furniture maker.
- Roark is the last name of the architect main character, Howard Roark, from Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.
- Rosebud is the name of Charles Foster Kane's boyhood keepsake, a sled, in the Orson Welles' 1941 film, Citizen Kane.
- Saramago is highly likely a reference to José Saramago (November 16, 1922 - ), a leading Portuguese novelist who won the Nobel prize in 1998. Curiously enough, he wrote several "political" science fiction stories in his youth, similar to Ursula Le Guin, although since becoming famous, he disregards his own previous work and refuses to be seen as an SF author.
- Sachertorte is a chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher in 1832.
- Scott likely comes from Adrian Scott (Feb. 6, 1912 - Dec. 25, 1975), an American screenwriter and film producer who was one of the Hollywood Ten.
- Sempati is a mythological bird, a sibling of Garuda. Also the name of an airline from Indonesia, which has since closed its operation.
- Shatner is a reference to William Shatner (Mar. 22, 1931 - ), a television actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James Tiberius Kirk on the TV program Star Trek.
- Suavage is quite possibly a misspelling of Sauvage and probably refering to the Olympic and Paralympic Champion Louise Sauvage, where her name is also misspelled in the web page title :)
- Szondi likely refers to the surname of a lead character in the novel "Jerusalem Poker" by Edward Whittemore (1933-1995), whose works are obscure but critically acclaimed.
- Szymborska is refering to Wislawa Szymborska (July 2, 1923 - ) a Polish poet.
- Trudeau is possibly a reference to former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Oct. 18, 1919 - Sept. 28, 2000).
- Trumbo is taken from American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo (Dec. 9, 1905 - Sept. 10, 1976), who was also one of the Hollywood Ten, the film professionals who refused to testify before the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee regarding involvement in American Communist Party and were blacklisted as a result. Trumbo also wrote the novel Johnny Got His Gun and directed the film adaptation.
- Ullman was a one-shot last name given to Ellen Ullman, the author of The Bug, when she made a guest appearance in Second Life on November 19th, 2003.
- Welesa likely comes, with a common misspelling, from the surname of Polish politician Lech Wałęsa (Sept. 29, 1943 - ), the founder of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc countries, and later, President of Poland.
- Wijaya is a common Indonesian name of distant Indian origin. It means "victory" and is pronounced "we - jah - yah"
- Zaius is likely from the lead antagonist in the Planet of the Apes stories, Doctor Zaius.
- Zugzwang is a German phrase meaning "compulsion to move". It describes a situation in the game of chess when one player is put at a disadvantage and is forced to move, putting them into a weaker position.