Where Do Babies(' Names) Come From?
May 11, 2008 9:19 PM   Subscribe

What influences trends in baby names? And why have popular girls names changed more over the past 20+ years than boys names?

The list of popular baby names for 2007 was released, and I was surprised to see all sorts of girls names I never heard growing up in the 80s- Madison, Ava, Isabella. Where do popular baby names come from? Also, it appears there is little crossover between the top ten girl's names in 2007 and 1987- only one girls name, Elizabeth, is on both lists. Meanwhile, the boys lists have a six names that appear on both. Are girls names and boys names influenced by different factors?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Society & Culture (65 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
There was a very interesting chapter in Freakonomics about how rich people decide what to name their children, and the names trickle down to the poor over a period of 15 years or so.

I named my child Clementine, thinking it would be a nice old-fashioned name. However, her name is one of his top 20 names in 15 years, since a few celebrities have recently named their children the same. bah.
posted by bradth27 at 9:29 PM on May 11, 2008


More on the Freakonomics explanation here.
posted by blue mustard at 9:31 PM on May 11, 2008


One possible factor is that boys are more likely to be named after their father or grandfather, due to the patriarchal tradition.
posted by nomis at 9:33 PM on May 11, 2008


>I named my child Clementine, thinking it would be a nice old-fashioned name. However, her name is one of his top 20 names in 15 years, since a few celebrities have recently named their children the same.

Even if it was the celebrity factor, where did the celebrities get the idea?

I've long been fascinated by this. Was there one baby named Clementine which started the trend? Was there a character in a book, film or TV show which started it off?

And even more interesting, everyone who got the idea believed it was unusual and their child would be the only Clementine for a hundred miles.

The same thing is happening right now around me. I have three colleagues who decided that Ruby is a wonderful and original name for their little girl. These people all know each other and work in the same building, and I could name a couple of celebrities with daughters called Ruby too. So how is it that, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, they believe the idea to be their own? Maybe it's some chemical released during pregnancy?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:45 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think there's also this tendency among parents to give their sons a "strong, professional, solid" type of name, generally meaning a more traditional name. (i.e. "CEO TrendyName is harder to imagine than "CEO David/Michael/Steven".) On the other hand, parents might see non-traditional girls names as less of a 'lifestyle risk' since there is just generally more acceptance of more variety in girls names.
posted by Kololo at 9:46 PM on May 11, 2008


Speculation here, but I'd say it's because it's easier to be creative with girls' names. You can name a girl after all kinds of random things (China, Savannah, Mercedes, Diamond, Daisy), you can spell them weird ways (Ashlee, Ashleigh), and you can even name them boys' names (Aubrey, Taylor, Landon). It's harder to go the opposite way with boys. I mean, how many ways can you spell Patrick or Robert? And you don't see a lot of boys named Jessica.

Maybe the wider range of possibilities for girls' names keeps the popular ones ever-changing, and the boys' names remain fairly static simply because there are fewer of them.
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 PM on May 11, 2008




I keep reading about how celebrities influence naming trends. Also, there seems to be an increase in non-traditional spellings (Jessikah, Rebecka etc etc) which could also be influencing the perceived popularity of certain names.
posted by cholly at 9:53 PM on May 11, 2008


Even if it was the celebrity factor, where did the celebrities get the idea?

I've long been fascinated by this. Was there one baby named Clementine which started the trend? Was there a character in a book, film or TV show which started it off?


One celebrity names her child Clementine. Readers of the Star and Enquirer say, "oooohhh......"

In my case, it was a decision made after researching the family tree and finding out that many of my ancestors had great strong names - Clementine being one.
posted by bradth27 at 9:56 PM on May 11, 2008


The Baby Name Wizard blog discusses these issues in great depth.

Celebrities (who is currently popular and what they name their children), current events, and the zeitgeist of the day all influence baby naming trends. Particularly trendy names can tend to date people - think of Florence, Morton, Tiffany and Brad - so they tend to die out some time after a peak of popularity, and new names become popular. This process of turnover has become faster in the last couple of decades (and "creatively" spelled names have become more popular) because more parents are looking for names that are individually "unique" these days. This is particularly the case for girls.

Girls' and boys' baby names are indeed influenced by different factors. Generally, boys' names are more steeped in tradition, while girls' names are more influenced by trends, for similar reasons as why parents tend to be more adventurous with girls' clothing. Because of (hetero)sexist norms, what can be seen as "daring" for a girl can be seen as damaging for a boy.
posted by streetdreams at 10:01 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


My favorite blog on the topic is Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing. Much speculation and cultural analysis on naming trends. Also, a lot of strange names.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:01 PM on May 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


An interesting trend is that even boy's names have become more diverse over time. In 1987, 21% of boys born had a top 10 name while last year the top ten only covered 9% of boys.
posted by metahawk at 10:02 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


NPR's On Point had a pretty good show on this topic last year. Might be worth listening to.
posted by knave at 10:07 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


AmbroseChapel: Was there one baby named Clementine which started the trend? Was there a character in a book, film or TV show which started it off

With this particular example, Kate Winslet's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was named Clementine. The movie came out almost exactly 4 years ago and I know two 3-year-old Clementines.
posted by peep at 10:10 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


One little data point on boys' names and pop culture. From 1968-1970, there was a popular TV show called "Here Come the Brides." The 3 boys on the show were named Jason, Jeremy, and Joshua.

Check out the spikes for those names on the NameVoyager: Jason, Jeremy, Joshua.
posted by peep at 10:19 PM on May 11, 2008


Thanks peep, I'd forgotten that.

Your theory, that adults saw the film and named their children after the character, makes sense, but how did that work with "Madison" (Asparagirl's link)?

The film comes out in 1984 and the name peaks in popularity sixteen years later. Do we theorise that lots of girls around the age of ten or twelve saw the movie, resolved to name their daughter after the mermaid, and kept that resolution eight to ten years later? Or maybe it was re-released at just the right moment?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:30 PM on May 11, 2008


Something definitely happened in the 60s, when it became cool to color outside the lines. The flower-child trend evolved into resurrecting relatively obscure, old-fashioned names. Look at the recent spike in Luke and Zoe.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:40 PM on May 11, 2008


I have a whole list of speculations Jennifer was so popular in the late 60's/early 70's (everybody and their sister!): the book and the movie Love Story, the book and movie Valley of the Dolls, Cary Grant named his daughter this...if it had not been for Donovan's "Jennifer Juniper" I would have been Judith (Yehudit is my Hebrew name). My father spelled the diminutive "Jennie" for Winston Churchill's mother...I've continued to do so because with a "y" isn't me.
posted by brujita at 11:11 PM on May 11, 2008


The flower-child trend evolved into resurrecting relatively obscure, old-fashioned names.

And even that's been strangely inconsistent. Ruby is back, but Pearl isn't. Violet has had a resurgence, Rose less so, and Lily vastly more popular now than a century ago.
posted by scody at 11:13 PM on May 11, 2008


Brujita: what I find interesting about Jennifer/Jenny/Jennie is that historically, they have totally different origins. Jennie/Jenny was very popular in the 19th century as a diminutive of Jean or Jane, while Jennifer comes from a Welsh form of Guinevere, and was almost unheard of till the early 20th century (and still wasn't in common use till around the 1940s or '50s).
posted by scody at 11:24 PM on May 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


The downward trend towards the right of this chart, which starts about 1960, is interesting. It means all these names are becoming less common. I assume that is because unusual names (names that don't make this top 1000 list) are becoming more common. We are becoming more diverse--perhaps more tolerant.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:24 PM on May 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


AmbroseChapel, I think many young people saw the movie around age 13. It was the first movie to be released by Touchstone Pictures -- a PG 13 movie with the endorsement of Disney. THe VCR had also just become popular. Twenty years later -- as the movie was re-released -- those same people were in the prime age bracket to be the upper middle class parents who influence name trends. And that's when the name cracked the top 50. The adults who saw the movie in the 80s probably mostly already had kids and weren't looking to "save" a name for their future baby.
posted by acoutu at 11:26 PM on May 11, 2008


I would call this year's list romantic, and respectable, which leads me to think these trends, at least now in the media saturated era, move quickly to overcorrect for perceived faux-pas in recent years, in this case the overly brandy Dakota/Hunter/Harley trend of the past couple. I don't know why there's still such a sexist issue with male vs. female name creativity, but I think that is an interesting phenomenon. It's almost animal how men are apparently named things because they are supposed to blend in and women are supposed to be decorative. Tom, Dick and Harry vs. Paris, Violet and Amber. There are male names that are respectable and creative and unused. I like Taleisin, Grover, for example.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:49 PM on May 11, 2008


The causes of Luke's popularity are pretty obvious - the major spike occurred in 1978, after the release of Star Wars, and then there was another spike in 1991, which I'm attributing to the popularity of Luke Perry.

Hideous.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:58 PM on May 11, 2008


There are some weird things happening with initial letters. The "C"s drop off in the 1990s, but look at the recent spike in names starting with "I". Go figure.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:05 AM on May 12, 2008


There's some discussion in the book Freakonomics of how baby names change. Apparently they tend to start off in the upper classes as a means of showing ones status. For instance, if you holiday in Brittany you might name your child Brittany.

Gradually the middle classes catch on and start giving their kids aspirational names, and eventually the lower classes. At some point creative misspellings can also take hold.

Their predictions for 2015.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:07 AM on May 12, 2008


There's an interesting concept Dale Spender uses called "negative semantic space" used to explain how the names Beverly and Shirley both male names in early victorian England, became female names over time, and why it would be imprudent to say the least in modern England to call your male child Beverly or Shirley.

These were names handed down in wealthy families and in a few instances there were no male children to hand them on to. So they were granted to the female children who presumably went off to make wonderful marriages to enhance the family name further. But as soon as the names became associated with women they began to inhabit a negative semantic space, and were no longer suitable for males.

It may help explain the low change rate you notice in male names, TPS.
posted by Wilder at 12:27 AM on May 12, 2008


My Freakonomics desk calendar confirms phunnieme suspicion that girls can be given boy name. Apparently, names like "Shirley" and "Tracey" were originally boy names, but eventually became associated with girls. They reach the conclusion that boy names are frequently likely to become girl names but the opposite is extremely rare.

And surely I am serious.
posted by champthom at 4:02 AM on May 12, 2008


Re: Elizabeth, like my middle name Suzanne (variant: Susan), it's run in my family for over 300 years. I was born in the 80s, and any future children I have will be born in the next 5 years and should I have a girl, those names will be involved somewhere. If I have boys, I'll be naming them after my grandfather. So heritage/generational shift might explain certain traditional names reappearing at certain points in time.
posted by saturnine at 4:11 AM on May 12, 2008


ikkyu2 - I don't think you should blame Star Wars for Luke, but the alternative is worse. Soap Operas are always a source for baby names, and 1978 was the year that Luke Spencer was introduced on General Hospital.

T.V. shows always introduce or re-introduce names into the list. I probably picked Claire partly from watching Lost and Six Feet Under. Now it's also on Ugly Betty and Heroes, and the name has climbed twenty spaces up the list.
posted by saffry at 4:22 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I picked a name a long time ago that is now on the 2015 popular prediction list and is coming up in the charts. I don't know what to do about this.

Similarly, there is a name I like, but is #15 overall and #1, #2, #3 in states that I have lived in or may live in sometime in the future.

You don't want your kid to be one of 12 Jennifers, but you don't want your kid to have a weird name either.

My boyfriend suggested a name that I didn't like, Landon. I googled it and look at what states it is popular in. My boyfriend promptly shut up.
posted by k8t at 4:41 AM on May 12, 2008


We are picking baby names at the moment, and I looked at the 2015 list with some tredipation. Two names that we had on the short list (discarded last week) are on there. Luckily our current front-runner is not.
posted by gaspode at 5:17 AM on May 12, 2008


If you are not using a family name, I think there is a strong tendency to pick names that neither parent has a strong association with ("no, not Erica, all the Ericas in my junior high class were intolerable..."). Since there is more diversity in female names anyway (since fewer are passed down as family names), there are more female names to avoid, leading to even greater diversity with each generation.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2008


"Where Have All the Lisas Gone?" might interest you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:40 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Authors Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Satran wrote the baby name book Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana back in the late eighties and have periodically issued updated version. The book examines why people name their children the way they do and sorts names into categories like Volvo names, heroes, family names, place names, biblical names, "so far out they're in" names, etc, etc. That book was the first place I heard the theory that almost all U.S. Presidential last names make good first names (Clinton, Kennedy, Madison). This doesn't work in Canada (who the heck would name their kid Diefenbaker or Mulroney?).

Of my four children, one girl has a boy's name (that can still be used for boys), one girls has a very old-fashioned name that was very popular a hundred years ago (natch, a Canadian feminist from the turn of the century), my son's name is on that Freakanomics list (arrrghhh!) and my newborn has a foreign name that is not spelt how it sounds. My son was originally named Django, after Django Reinhart but when my husband told a co-worked what he had named him the co-worked immediately said "Oh, after Jango Fett?" We hadn't seen the recent Star Wars films and e was worried we had just given our son a name equivalent to Jabba the Hutt.

It is a lot easier to name a puppy.
posted by saucysault at 6:47 AM on May 12, 2008


I've never understood why people name their boys common names. I can't count the number of Daves I know. And they all turned out so.... Dave-y. Please, parents, think up something unique!

I have some friends who were recently considering the name Sawyer. I thought they were out of their minds and they didn't understand why. They hadn't a clue that at the time it was the name of one of the main characters on the #1 tv show--Lost. At the time the name was little used (top 500) but now it's cracked top 250. They ended up going with Cooper which is much more popular but at least people won't think they named their kid after a tv character. Ick.

I have a whole list of speculations Jennifer was so popular in the late 60's/early 70's

So true. I've dated 9 Jennifers in my life.
posted by dobbs at 7:11 AM on May 12, 2008


My son was originally named Django, after Django Reinhart but when my husband told a co-worked what he had named him the co-worked immediately said "Oh, after Jango Fett?"

This happened to me with my dog, who is named Satchel, after Satchel Page. People wanted to know why I named my kid after Woody Allen's kid. Seriously, I was asked this repeatedly. Turns out Allen also named his kid after Page--just happened to be around the same time I did.
posted by dobbs at 7:15 AM on May 12, 2008


In addition to the reasons all given so far name popularity can be cyclic. See the Baby Name Voyager for more name data.
posted by GuyZero at 7:23 AM on May 12, 2008


David Leavitt has a character point out in Equal Affections that many names associated with American Jewish men-- Sydney, Murray, Milton--are actually British last names.
posted by brujita at 7:36 AM on May 12, 2008


I want to know why everyone names their boys Cade, Caden, Kade, Kayde. I was looking for a boy's name in 2007 while pregnant, and I swear, every other baby boy was named Caden. I looked it up on more than one name-meaning site, and as far as I can tell, it has no historical meaning.
posted by pinky at 7:58 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Turns out Allen also named his kid after Page

I guess the kid didn't like it. He changed his name to Ronan, which is my brother's name and which I'm desperately hoping doesn't become the next "trendy Irish name!" after Aidan, Conor and Caitlin etc. My name was in the 400s in the states when I was born and now it's number 3, which may explain why I never meet adults with my name, only three year olds.

I'm trying to apply all the rationalization above to popular names in Ireland, which have tended towards very "British" names recently - Lucy, Megan, etc.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:01 AM on May 12, 2008


pinky writes "I want to know why everyone names their boys Cade, Caden, Kade, Kayde. I was looking for a boy's name in 2007 while pregnant, and I swear, every other baby boy was named Caden. I looked it up on more than one name-meaning site, and as far as I can tell, it has no historical meaning."

It's a rhyme with Jaden a variation on the Old Testament name Jadon. Jaden and it's rhymes took off after Will Smith named his kid Jaden.
posted by Mitheral at 8:11 AM on May 12, 2008


I was looking for a boy's name in 2007 while pregnant, and I swear, every other baby boy was named Caden.

Braydon/Braden seems to be picking up too, amongst people I know. Baby Name Wizard addressed this very issue today!
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:15 AM on May 12, 2008


Some friends of mine plan to name their baby Madison, not after the main character in the Splash film, but after the name of the street of the bar where they met. Perhaps the surge of bars on Madison Ave. has contributed to the amount of babies named Madison?

Also, with Violet, I point to the Lemony Snicket books for that resurgance.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 8:32 AM on May 12, 2008


I think there's a certain zeitgeist affect. A name is in the air and you hear it so much that it sounds good.

With our first born (coming any day now), we had certain rules 1) it had to be a catholic saint's name 2) we had to both like it 3) I had to not know anyone with that name that I didn't like....

So, Philo (assuming the ultrasound is right) it is. It's short, snappy, references both love and an important inventor. Mostly the reaction has been positive, though there have been some "What kind of name is Philo?" responses. His name has never even touched the top 1000, which is something that appeals to me as someone with a name that has ranked in the top ten for a very long time, forced to turn around whenever someone calls their friend in the mall.
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2008


My son was originally named Django, after Django Reinhart

Heh. I have been expressly forbidden by my boyfriend from entertaining even the faintest of hopes, in the event that we ever have a child, of ever naming a son Weller.

posted by scody at 10:23 AM on May 12, 2008


every other baby boy was named Caden. I looked it up on more than one name-meaning site, and as far as I can tell, it has no historical meaning.

Caden was a not-uncommon female name in Turkish-Jewish families; my husband has an ancestress named Caden born around 1820. From what I've seen in my genealogical research, most of them took the name Kate or Katie when they came to the US. I have almost never seen the name repeat in his relatives' family trees after immigration; like "Luna" and "Bulissa" and "Fortuna" it got dropped as old-fashioned.

And on a related note: doesn't the "Freakanomics" chapter on names specifically say that US naming patterns tend to filter from the US Jewish community to the rest of the country, not just filter from the upper-class? (That's why "Aviva" is considered a hot up-and-comer, for example.) And Ashkenazic Jews, who are 90% of the US Jewish community, tend to name after dead relatives, which usually means the child's grandparents or great-grandparents; the parents often keep the same Hebrew name for the child, but only pick an English name with the same first letter, or other similarity.

So, if this is not too much of a stretch, this trend might also explain the recent moonshot in names beginning with the letter "I". "Yitzhak" is an incredibly common Hebrew name. Almost every "Yitzhak" born in the US between 1900-1925 got turned into an Irving/Irvin/Irwin/Isidore in English (and not the straightforward translation "Isaac" so often, as assimilation was the order of the day). Now add about 80-85 years to that, and you suddenly have a ton of babies born between 1985-2005 who need to be named in some fashion after their recently departed great-grandpa Izzy. All of a sudden, Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella comes out of literally nowhere in the late 1980's to the top of the charts (check it out on Baby Name Voyager), and presto, "Isabella" is suddenly the #2 name in the country in 2007.

(Or maybe I'm projecting a little, since both my son and I were named after two different relatives named Irving.)
posted by Asparagirl at 10:32 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget the thought that popular names could decline based on bile. Hear me out, when naming my children, one of the arguments that could be whipped out was, "we can't name her/him that. I knew someone with that name and HATED them. I'll be damned if my child has that name." Many a popular name from my husband and I's generation of schooling got kicked to the kerb. Real old fashioned names remained because either the luggage attached was positive (family history, historical figure) or while popular names had negatives (part of kindergarten gang that beat up kids.)
posted by jadepearl at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh my word, that Freakonomics list has my thusfar utterly obscure name, An(n)sley, as #2! That's going to cause an identity crisis, since I've lived most of my life with people either exclaiming, "What a great name!" or "Surely you're joking!" I get pretty annoyed if someone does bring up that they've met another Annsley before me.

I was named after the British blue blood side of my family after an aunt, which confirms the Freakonomics theory that the upper class determines name trends that work their way down the socioeconimic ladder. I have virtually no contact with that side of the family, let alone other ultra-rich folk, so for all I know there are scores of uber-rich Annsleys eating bonbons around the Waldorf-Astoria.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2008


It bothers me when people get upset that the name they've chosen is popular. It didn't make me less of an individual when I started meeting other people with my name. Having a unique name seems like a pretty weak thing to build into your identity. I like knowing how my name reflects my parents' tastes, background, values, etc. That's not something that diminishes with popularity.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:48 PM on May 12, 2008


I named my child Clementine, thinking it would be a nice old-fashioned name. However, her name is one of his top 20 names in 15 years, since a few celebrities have recently named their children the same. bah.

We also named our daughter Clémentine, and only realized that it might become trendy later. However, I am still happy with the name as most anglophones seem to find it odd, and francophones are delighted (they think it's cute). Btw, did you know that Winston Churchill's wife was named Clementine?
posted by Vindaloo at 12:58 PM on May 12, 2008


Okay, what can I do to make a name just a bit less popular? When I named my boy kid Aidan in early 1997, tho I had first decided on the name back in 1989 or so, it didn't even crack the top 300. Now it's in the 30 most popular. In the prediction for 2015, it's on the top 10 list! It's a rather traditional name, not something made-up or grabbed from literature. It's a saint name, actually, which I guess might qualify. I wanted to steer clear away from trendy names, and it seems that it now represents trendy names -- being adopted by girls, being spelled in 100 ways, spawning rhyme-alike names. Argh.

The name definitely suits the kid, so I don't think I'd change it even if I knew, but I really would like to put a stop to this, so my son isn't in the future awash in a sea of Aidans. Maybe persuade some prominent criminal to change his name to Aidan?
posted by houseofdanie at 2:03 PM on May 12, 2008


Osama Bin Aidan, maybe?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh. The other thing I wanted to say is that there are some names that I find to be absolutely beautiful (Melissa, Michelle), but because of their popularity, are not at all appealing as potential baby names. It's kind of the thing where if you say a word over and over, it just sounds like nonsense. If you hear a name enough times, it sounds more like "just a girl name," rather than as the lovely word it is.

I say this as a Danielle (tho don't call me that unless you're my mother), born in 1973, named after a Daniel, who was named after even older relatives, way back into negative time eternal. It was really a pain in the ass growing up to always be "Danielle (Initial)," or "the short Danielle," or some other specific type of Danielle to separate me from the others. The Jennifers, Heathers, and Jessicas in my school had even worse headaches.

My kid is Aidan, which I thought would be a less pain-in-the-ass way to carry on the "dan." Maybe I should have called him Dannon, after the yogurt (the traditional food of women).
posted by houseofdanie at 2:19 PM on May 12, 2008


Scody, would scodyboy object to Paul (for the other one who also kissed you )? How about Julian Amadeo Maximillian? ;-)
posted by brujita at 2:35 PM on May 12, 2008


It isn't just "I" -- I noticed some time ago that names beginning with any vowel, boys and girls, see a marked mid 19th century dip. Try it on the baby name wizard. The pattern is pretty hard to explain other than the zeitgeist + similar sounding name "drift", unless it is simply the inverse of the David-Jennifer pattern (but still requires some sort of explanation, I think)
posted by Rumple at 4:00 PM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


You never know what'll come along and cause a shift: Katrina was in the top 300 every year from 1962 to 2005. In 2007 it was down to 598.
posted by Smallpox at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2008


Helen and Hazel are two once popular girl names that are due for a comeback, also Clara
posted by Rumple at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2008



Braydon/Braden seems to be picking up too, amongst people I know. Baby Name Wizard addressed this very issue today!


Oh yes, Braden, Caden, Hayden, and Jaden are all very popular, and all names I was NOT going to name my unborn son while pondering a name for him last year, no offense to any of you who have those names. I grew up with a supercommon name myself and I didn't want my kid to have fourteen other Haydencadens in his class who would all turn when the teacher said "Haydencaden! Come to the board!"

After reading the comments on that Baby Name Wizard I thought to myself - "damn, I wish I'd considered Linus!" Blanket associations aside, that is an awesome name.
posted by pinky at 6:33 PM on May 12, 2008


Scody, would scodyboy object to Paul?

Ha! Sadly, don't think he'll fall for that... though perhaps I can suggest "John William" -- that's Weller's given name (Paul's actually his nickname), so it would be a stealth namesake!

posted by scody at 10:59 PM on May 12, 2008



You can name a girl after all kinds of random things (China, Savannah, Mercedes, Diamond, Daisy)

The girl's name Mercedes \m(e)-rce-des, mer-cedes\ is pronounced mer-SAY-dees. It is of Spanish origin, and its meaning is "mercies". Used in reference to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria de las Mercedes as "Our Lady of Mercies". Literary: the name of the lost love of Edmond Dantes in Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo". Also the name of the German luxury car, which was named for a little girl named Mercedes. Mostly Catholic use. See also Mercy. Actresses Mercedes McCambridge, Mercedes Ruehl

posted by ersatz at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I get pretty annoyed if someone does bring up that they've met another Annsley before me.

I'm the same way. My name is a very uncommon pronunciation of a common name so despite having 5 other people in my class with almost the same name, I've only met 5 people in my life with the same pronunciation as me. The drawback is people actually correct me when I tell them my name.

The women in my generation in my family have names that are influenced by popular culture (I was named after a soap opera character) but the boys are all named for their fathers or grandfathers. My brother is one of the Jasons from 1983, and although he goes by Jason it's his middle name and his first name is the same as my father's. I'm also noticing all my cousins naming their kids traditional names in my family about 3 generations back these days.
posted by Bunglegirl at 4:37 PM on May 13, 2008


It has been interesting to track the baby names in my small Chicago neighborhood. Multi-generational Swedish-American and Norwegian-American families here and, even though it has been decades since the ancestors came over from the motherland, they are still going back to the archives for baby names. Some of which are wonderful, I think! Interesting how this geographic area seems to have bucked the baby name trend. So far, we have:

Anders, Lukas, Axel, Ingrid, Kjerstin (pronounced Sheer-stin), Kirstin, Karl, Sonia, Maiken, Erik, Klyne, Anja (pronounced Anya), Ake (pronounced O-kee), Annika, Britta, Linnea, Eva, Hannika, Lars, Jens, Hanna, Kai (pronounced K-eye), Lucia, Svea, Malin and Tor.

So, if you want to be different, go with Klyne! Or Britta! It will only be common in my neighborhood in Chicago :) Or in Sweden.
posted by jeanmari at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2008


Man, my last name is on the "trendy for 2015" list. In fact, every other name on there seems to be a last name.
posted by GaelFC at 10:44 PM on May 14, 2008


my best friend (born 1985) was named Britta.

also in the family: her father wanted to name her older sister Jessica, but her mom wanted Amy, so she's Jessamy (pronounced jess-uh-mee).
posted by kidsleepy at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2008


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