Category: Family Names
By Laurie Scheuble
I have been working on marital naming research for 25 years. I study what names women choose when they marry and what surname they give their children.
Twenty-five years ago, I would have predicted that at least a quarter of women in the United States would keep their maiden name as their last name when they marry. I expected this because there was a tremendous amount of social change occurring and an expectation of equity in the treatment of women was becoming the social norm. On the contrary, the most recent data shows that only about 9% of women do keep their maiden names or hyphenate them with their husband’s last name when they marry.
Welcome to the thrilling and mysterious world of parenthood. And welcome too to the new and radically different world of baby names. In the interest of helping you make the best possible name choice for your child, here is your initiation guide to all that’s changed since every kid was named Jennifer and Jason.
My love for genealogy came from my interest in discovering names I had never heard before. There is something special about being able to connect yourself to a rare gem of a name, and being able to connect that name to your ancestor’s history.
In addition to individual names, there are also some interesting patterns I’ve noticed while researching the branches of my various family trees. Some eras favored word names while others preferred patriotic names. Some branches were filled with unique names, while others stuck with the more traditional. One trend I’ve noticed is that “sibset” naming wasn’t considered until the 20th century. There often seemed to be a wide variety of names among siblings, yet, it wasn’t strange to have two sons named Joseph or three daughters named Elizabeth.
By Kara Blakley
We recently ran Kara‘s suggestions for subtly connecting girl siblings’ names. Now it’s the boys’ turn.
Matthew/Levi. Matthew is an American staple, spending decades in the Top 20, reaching as high as Number 2 in the 90s. But if, at Number 16, Matthew is still too popular for you, or if you want to honor a friend without directly repeating the name, consider Levi. Levi was the biblical Matthew‘s given name before becoming an apostle, hence the connection. Matthew McConaughey named his firstborn Levi for this reason in 2008.
Peter/Simon. Like Matthew and Levi, Peter and Simon share a biblical connection: the first pope was born Simon before Jesus nicknamed him Peter, meaning ‘rock’. Simon, perennially popular in Europe, has never been as common as Peter here, which makes it prime for Americn usage. Simone and Petra are attractive feminizations that also deserve wider use.
By Kara Blakley
Twin names and honor names are some of the hottest topics on the Nameberry forums.
Some folks like a direct approach, sticking with a shared first initial or passing down identical names from one generation to the next. Others like a more subtle approach. For the subtle crowd, I like the idea of ‘cognate’ names: names that are either the direct meaning of a name (e.g., Margaret means pearl), or names that share a meaning. These names can add a subtle connection between siblings or generations, or alternatively, they might be names you want to avoid using in the same combination.