Well, the very first locomotives seem mostly to have been named as marketing exercises: for instance, those at the Rainhill Trials were called Rocket, Sans Pareil, Cycloped, Novelty and Perseverance.
Marketing remained important for locomotive names over many years, and this has given us the famous Cannonball Express (there are still lots of express trains) and The Flying Scotsman.
But what was being marketed wasn't always speed, but prestige. In Britain, for instance, we had trains named The Black Prince and (less showily) William Wordsworth. Contemporary celebrities weren't ignored either, and it was possible in the twentieth century to hitch a ride on both George V and Dwight D Eisenhower.
But what of nowadays?
The Swedish Railway Company MTR Express, together with the Metro newspaper, are naming a new fleet of locomotives to travel between Sweden's two largest cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg. Some of the fleet will have names in the traditional mould. There will be a royal name, Estelle, after Sweden's five-year-old princess, and an Ingvar, named after a celebrity, the TV personality Ingvar Oldsberg.
But then things diverge from tradition.
This divergence seems has been caused by some names having been selected, not by the owners of the locomotives, but by public vote. So a third locomotive, with 43% of the vote, is called Glenn (it's a joke: everyone in Gothenburg has been said to be named Glenn ever since the 1980s, when the football team IFK Göteborg had as many as four Glenns in its line-up.)
And the fourth locomotive? Suggestions received from the public included Hakan, Miriam and Poseidon, but the run-away winner, with 49% of the vote was...
'news that will be received with joy by many, not just in Sweden,' said MTR Express.
And how right they are.
Words To Use Today: Something Mcsomethingface. Mc or Mac, as found in Scottish or Irish Gaelic surnames, means son of. It comes from the Goidelic language.
More about this meme can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.