Current Name Game

Microbial Maladies and Misnomers: Renaming antimicrobial resistance

As discussed recently in Psychology Todaya disease’s name can have a significant impact on how people react to it, sometimes with deadly result. The early name for HIV/AIDS, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, along with the informal names gay plague and gay cancer, not only stigmatized gay men, but contributed to the slow response by the medical establishment and society in general. The much more specific, pronounceable, and brief COVID-19 replaced Wuhan novel coronavirus, helping efforts to communicate about the pandemic.


A current health threat hampered by a problematic name is antimicrobial resistance. Mutations in microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses have rendered them unresponsive to medical treatment, which means common infections such as pneumonia have become more difficult or even impossible to treat. It’s projected that by 2050, more people will die from antimicrobial resistance than currently die from cancer, yet this dire health crisis is flying under the radar, in part because of an unwieldy name.


PopNamers, for this game we’re shifting from our usual punny fun to a serious naming effort. Help us bring attention to this emerging public health emergency with a memorable, succinct, accurate designation. What would you name antimicrobial resistance?


Photo from World Health Organization 
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