You see, Nicole Polizzi, better known as Snooki on the reality TV show “Jersey Shore,” recently faced rejection of the semantic kind. The United States Patent and Trademark Office denied her request to trademark “Snooki” because a 2004 trademark for a book about a cat named Snooky is too similar.
The ubiquity of Ms. Polizzi’s nickname prompted a search for both the personal meaning of her name and its possible roots or branches in the surrounding language. The results are amusing and potentially the centerpiece of a perfect dinner (assuming the proper balance of ginger and onions.)
The nickname Snooki was apparently inspired by a character in the film “Save the Last Dance” based on Ms. Polizzi’s enthusiasm for amorous activities. Ho-hum. Thankfully, the dictionary gives us the following definition for snook: ”any basslike fish of the genus Centropomus, esp. C. undecimalis, inhabiting waters off Florida and the West Indies and south to Brazil, valued as food and game.” A secondary sense of the word is “a gesture of defiance, disrespect, or derision.”
Snooker is “a variety of pool played with 15 red balls and 6 balls of colors other than red.” The rules sound tricky, but probably more fun than watching “Jersey Shore.” To be snookered, however, is “to deceive, cheat, or dupe.” We would never snooker someone we call snookums, a “sweetheart.”