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I'm trying to think of a name for my new Animal Crossing town. I'm going for a city with grime and grit that isn't as gilded as some would think. There's a game with a town called Pyrite Town which works really well, and I'm trying to capture that vibe. Pyrite symbolizes something that is easily and commonly confused for something more valuable or precious, hence the nickname "Fool's gold".

I'm struggling to think of something that occupies a similar symbolic connotation. I thought of maybe a morel mushroom because they can be easily confused with poisonous variants or Morpho butterflies because they use refraction to fake their blue appearance without any blue pigment. Zirconium is similar because it can be confused with diamond, but none of these have the same instant association and history as pyrite.

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  • (Not sure that the head honchos around here would consider literary names a kosher question). You have not really told us why pyrite is "symbolic".
    – Lambie
    Sep 21 at 17:33
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    This seems like a better fit for a sister site like worldbuilding.stackexchange.com
    – Davo
    Sep 21 at 18:24
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    Frank Sinatra - At Long Last Love, has a nice set of contrasting expressions. m.youtube.com/watch?v=rBvyBWnSTzQ Sep 22 at 0:51
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    Side Note: Zirconium is highly unlikely to be confused with diamond. You are thinking of cubic zirconia, which is a zirconium-containing mineral. Sep 22 at 14:09
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    I think "Fool's Gold" would be a fine name for a town, but this is an option you are already aware of. Sep 22 at 14:12

5 Answers 5

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Tinsel is a more common word which is symbolically equivalent to pyrite with its figurative usage; and it symbolizes something that appears valuable but is actually worthless. It comes from the fact that it is something glittering but cheap.

OED definition of the figurative sense of tinsel:

figurative. Anything showy or attractive with little or no intrinsic worth; something that gives a deceptively fine or glittering appearance.

Even Tinseltown is used as a nickname for Hollywood because of the superficially glamorous world it represents.

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    Tinsel was originally made using silver, but a variety of metals have been used over the centuries, including gold and lead. Modern tinsel uses aluminium.
    – PM 2Ring
    Sep 22 at 4:30
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    The association with Hollywood seems like it might undermine the OP's intended use.
    – Barmar
    Sep 22 at 14:34
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    @Barmar It is just an example how tinsel was already used to modify "town" as a nickname; as exactly how the OP wanted in a way the word can be used. However, the OP can use it with the meaning closer to the OED definition, calling it "Tinsel City" for example.
    – ermanen
    Sep 22 at 14:49
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Ersatz means

being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation

MW

or

​artificial and not as good as the real thing or product

OLD

Ersatz City has a nice ring to it, if that works.

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Building off of some of the words at Word for the “fakeness” of extravagant places

Tawdrytown

Giltberg

Glitzburg

Beaufaçade

Fauxville

Tackytown

Potemkinville

Veneer Village

Meretricity

Sham City

Painter's Folly

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    I like Fauxville!
    – nigel222
    Sep 22 at 15:36
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    @nigel222 It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
    – Kirt
    Sep 22 at 16:49
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    You suggest Glitzburg; that calls to mind Glitzville, which was used as the name of a city in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
    – Hearth
    Sep 23 at 5:13
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I was thinking about Talmi, but misremembered it being an English word, not a German one. But while looking up Talmi I came across two actual English words that might fit:

Pinchbeck

(...) is a form of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles gold in appearance. (...) Later dishonest jewellers passed pinchbeck off as gold; over the years the name came to mean a cheap and tawdry imitation of gold.

Brummagem is one of the old local names of Birmingham (England).

"Brummagem" and "Brummagem ware" are also terms for cheap and shoddy imitations, in particular when referring to mass-produced goods. This use is archaic in the UK, but persists in some specialist areas in the US and Australia.

(By the way, for those interested, Talmi is an alloy of copper and zinc. The idea is similar to pinchbeck).

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A Potemkin village is (per Wikipedia)

Any construction (literal or figurative) whose sole purpose is to provide an external façade to a country that is faring poorly, making people believe that the country is faring better. The term comes from stories of a fake portable village built by Grigory Potemkin, former lover of Empress Catherine II, solely to impress the Empress during her journey to Crimea in 1787.

Modern historians believe this story is exaggerated, but the idea of a town that is "dressed up" to hide a shabbier reality fits somewhat with your description. If you wanted a name that evoked this idea, you could call it "Potemkin City" or (sticking with the same linguistic roots) "Potemkingrad".

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  • Very good find. 👍🏼 I knew about the movie "Battleship Potemkin" but didn't know about this usage.
    – ermanen
    Sep 23 at 15:24

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