My wife and I have a good-natured debate whenever we buy paint at the home-improvement store. I question how they decide the esoteric names for colors that border on primary. She, on the other hand, assures me that taupe really is a different shade than tan. At that point I usually shut up and wander over to the power tool aisles.

Car manufacturers have teams who brainstorm months before coming up with monikers for the latest model. The finalists are tested and re-tested before focus groups, I’m sure. But if that’s the case, they must also spend a lot of time hanging around the zoo or on African safari junkets. How else do you explain Impala or Thunderbird? The Probe? Let’s not even go there.

Boat company names make a little more sense, thank goodness. For example, many are named after their founders like Stamas, Spencer or Freeman. Others borrow geographically, such as Boston Whaler or Cabo. Some capture a desired lifestyle. Invincible and Viking fall into this category.

Fish species make popular names, too. Mako and Yellowfin are two prime examples. Permit and Wahoo went fins-up, however. Survival of the fittest, aquatic version. Dorado is still hanging around, but Mahi-Mahi just doesn’t quite cut it. Too trendy or regional, I suppose. Besides, having a boat confused with Flipper is definitely bad karma.

Environmental tie-ins are big these days and so are boat names reflecting the green movement. Off the top of my head, I can quickly count more than a dozen current or past brands with Sea or Ocean as part of their title. Craft and Sport are a couple other popular compound labels.

I really don’t expect to see Wet & Wild Performance Boats or Submariner Yachts hitting the showroom floors anytime soon. That marketing ploy might be a little difficult to peddle in today’s economy. And I don’t imagine Sailcats or Killifish will be splashing, either. They lack that all-important ring quality for some odd reason.

But I’m not going to be shocked to open my email and find a press release announcing the launch of Crème Brulee Craft or Midship Blue Boats. Especially if my wife is a member of the latest focus group.