Category: Baby Names
Determining what makes a name contemporary vs. what makes a name established can be tough.
For example, if a name was first used by one notable person (real or fictional) in the 17th century, but hadn’t become widespread or familiar until within the past decade, does that qualify the name as established or modern?
There may be some debate, but to me, any name that hadn’t been widely familiar or used until within the past 20-30 years is a modern name. That isn’t to say that sometimes modern names can’t have historic origins. Modern names with historic origins are new names that sound… well… old.
Here are some examples:
By Linda Rosenkrantz
When you think of classic boys’ names, chances are that the first three that pop to mind are John, James and William. Of the three, William is, much like female counterparts Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret, probably the richest in its multiplicity of variations, nicknames, girl versions, etc. Here’s a rundown of the main man and his manifestations.
William—For four hundred years, William was second only to John as the most widely used name in the English-speaking world, and even now is the fifth most prevalent boys’ name in the US, given to almost 17,000 baby boys last year. With Germanic roots, William was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, and has long been a royal name in that country; it has belonged to no fewer than four US presidents and countless notables from Shakespeare to the present popular high-profile prince.
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella.
There’s a wicked stepmother and a prince. During the royal ball, a glass slipper is lost, left behind by a mysterious girl who vanishes into the night.
Retellings galore have updated and twisted the tale. Hilary Duff turned it into a teen movie, with Chad Michael Murray as Prince Charming. Drew Barrymore made a version that mixed in Leonardo da Vinci.
Now Marissa Meyer has written a completely different Cinderella story, transporting her from a castle-filled past to the city of New Beijing, in an indefinite – and rather terrifying – future. There’s plague and the threat of war, but happily, her Cinderella will become a true heroine.
I was looking at the names similar to Pixie the other day — y’know, just to pass the time — and I thought: Wow, there’s an unusual collection of names. From Alala to Kitto, Spartacus to Whimsy, there wasn’t a common name in the bunch.
Which got me thinking about how most people say they like unusual names, but do they really? Which unusual, unique, rare, uncommon baby names would people say they liked best?
Which led me, of course, to this Question of the Week.
We love combing the birth announcements in the London Telegraph for baby name trends and ideas.
Each time we issue a report, we look for a different focus — unusual names, fascinating middle name combinations — and today it’s sibling names.
Some observations: The newest vintage names being unpacked from mothballs in England are Martha and Herbert. Some of the most charming combinations mix ethnicities (Emiko and Freddie) or match first letters (Orlando and Ophelia). Out-of-the-box middle names include word names, place-names, and surnames such as Spark, Houston, and Allgood.
Oh, and, as usual, these British parents manage to find baby names that are distinctive and adventurous and gorgeous without resorting to (almost ever) strange inventions or kree8tiv spellings.
Our picks from the latest announcements: