Could Apple really name OS X 10.9 “Cougar” with no problem?

Sections: Features, Mac OS X, Opinions and Editorials, Originals

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I have to disagree with my friend, The Mac Observer’s John Martellaro, who contends that there would be no problem in Apple naming OX 10.9 “Cougar,” an as yet unused OS X version nomenclature wild cat. John argues that cougars are relatively big, strong cats, and that the name connotes power and ferocity—more so than the other favored OS X 10.9 naming contender “Lynx.”

Apple trademarked both names back in 2003 under the common category of “computers; computer software; computer operating system software,” so there’s no impediment to naming OS X 10.9 “Cougar.”

Cougar TownHowever, there is the delicate matter of the name’s association in the colloquial vernacular referencing the behavior of some women of a certain age. John doesn’t think it’s really an issue for Apple. I’m not so sure about that. While it would be great if Apple actually could rehabilitate and restore the prestige of the cougar name (which I rather like) from prurient connotations and reclaim the higher ground, as John puts it, I think the association might well prove more tenacious than he contends. Ford Motor Company used Cougar for its Mercury variant of the original game-changing Ford Mustang ponycar back in 1964, and the original 1964-’69 Mercury Cougar remains my favorite example of the genré.

1970 Cougar

Cougar is also a synonym for puma, already used for OS X 10.1, but then so are panther (OS X 10.3) and mountain lion (OS X 10.8) in its North American context. The largest wild cat species on this continent is variously known as cougar, puma, mountain lion, panther, painter, and catamount plus reportedly several dozen other less-widely used names that have been recorded across North and South America. By using Cougar, Apple would be returning to the same well species-wise for a fourth time. If they wanted a particularly exotic variant, they might consider Eastern Cougar, referencing cats some contend still range in small numbers east of the Mississippi River in the U.S., and Canada—an assertion that remains to be scientifically verified.

Lynx, on the other hand, has no problematical issues I can think of as an OS X name other than that some folks might think the lynx too small a cat to name an OS X version for. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I think Lynx would be an excellent and appropriate name choice. Known to the Ojibwa as “the vigilant protector of the people,” lynx may be small, but they’re formidable predators. And while their prey of choice is the snowshoe hare, reportedly lynx will bring down animals as large as caribou when hare are scarce. The reclusive Lynx is also one handsome cat in my estimation, perhaps the best-looking wild cat species of all.

To review, here are the cat names Apple has applied to OS X versions and their introduction dates:

  • 10.0 Cheetah – March 24, 2001
  • 10.1 Puma – September 25, 2001
  • 10.2 Jaguar – August 24, 2002
  • 10.3 Panther – October 24, 2003
  • 10.4 Tiger – April 29, 2005
  • 10.5 Leopard – October 26, 2007
  • 10.6 Snow Leopard – August 28, 2009
  • 10.7 Lion – July 20, 2011
  • 10.8 Mountain Lion – July 25, 2012

You can read John Martellaro’s argument in favor of naming OS X 10.9 “Cougar” at The Mac Observer.

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  • Joseph Singer

    Just for your future information genré is not a word in either English or French. I know you were trying to be “suavé” but you unfortunately failed.

  • Charles W. Moore

    According to the Free Online Dictionary referencing The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, genre is a noun denoting a type or class or a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content, and is of French origin deriving from Old French for from Old French gendre (gender or kind), in turn from the Latin genus, gener


    • Joseph Singer

      There still is no such word “genré” in either French or English. The reason it was used here is to make it look like you knew some special word to impress and that you know how to make diacritical marks on your computer.

  • Charles W. Moore

    I beg to differ. Genre is commonly used (do a Google or Bing search), and I don’t consider it at all special. It’s in dictionaries. Just a good descriptive term for a class or category.


  • Joseph Singer There is a word genre but there is no word genré. Use a dictionary.



  • Charles W. Moore

    You mean this is over a misplaced diacritical accent? OK, I now see that genre has no such accent. Honest error. I stand corrected. But to contend that there is no such word because of an erroneously placed accent? Seems like carrying hair-splitting a bit over-the-top.

    Far be it from me to disparage striving for grammatical accuracy, but you went overboard in jumping to the conclusion that I was just trying to impress. I wasn’t. it was a good faith spelling mistake.


  • Steve Brookman

    In the UK Lynx is the name of a body deodorant aimed at pre-pubescent boys. It’s strong and overpowering (perhaps akin to the eponymous animal) but also somewhat choking and naff!