Category: Guest Bloggers
It’s been a quiet week for high profile arrivals. Sure, Michael Weatherly of NCIS fame and wife Bojana welcomed son Liam. It’s a great name – friendly, upbeat, accessible. Liam is also a solid favorite in the US, just like big sister’s name, Olivia. Last year, he was the #1 choice in at least nine states, and shows no signs of slowing down.
But name news isn’t just about celebrities. In order for parents to consider a name, they have to know that it exists. Books, television, movies, athletes, actors, song lyrics, people in the headlines – they can all add new options to an expectant parent’s shortlist.
Baby name books have always surfaced some unusual possibilities. I fell in love with Hephzibah in a paperback name encyclopedia from the 1970s, the same book my mother used to circle mainstream options like Jill and Amy. Hester came from The Scarlet Letter. And Caroline, a name I eventually used as one of my daughter’s middles? She’s from a Psychedelic Furs song, a classic I never noticed until I heard the lyrics.
Now Nameberry, and the vast community of baby name blogs and websites, is part of that process, too. This week was filled with daring, even fanciful names for girls with global influence. Some of these might seem too much for a first name, but I can hear most of them in the middle spot.
Gaiman did say this: “We must not attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meaning and pronunciations to change with time.”
If language is a living thing, doesn’t the same hold true for names?
Some words endure with minimal alteration, and some names do, too. But for every Elizabeth, there’s a Samantha – a name that feels rich with history, but is actually almost unknown until the nineteenth century. Or Brooke, a name that feels established and sophisticated, but would have been out of place a hundred years ago.
What makes a name a true classic?
Very few names have been in constant use, and those few evergreen choices differ across cultures and languages.
A definition is elusive. A classic should be universally recognized and long established. It should possess either a measure of elegance or another distinguishing characteristic. But classic isn’t a black and white line. In baby name discussions, classic sometimes translates as “a name I like.”
Are Adelaide and Charlotte as classic as Mary? How do Walter and Jeremy compare to William and James? How about names like Samantha or Brooke – seldom heard before the twentieth century, but now solidly established? How many years does it take to make a classic, bearing in mind that classic rock is sometimes as young as five decades old.
In hemlines and hairdos, in music and cuisine and baby names, too.
Once upon a time, Mildred was a Top Ten name in the US. Clarence, Connie, Randy, Dawn, Eugene, Norman, Norma, Crystal, Dustin, Myrtle, and Elmer have all ranked in the Top 50 names at one point or another.
It can take years for a name to transition from emerging trend to solidly established choice. But this week’s baby name news highlights many of the changes happening now.
Change is constant, but some of the outcomes are fresh and new, and it is too soon to say which names will catch on. Will Americans embrace truly gender neutral names? Are noun names mainstream? Should you double-check the spelling on every single name, no matter what?
Read on for nine baby names in the news, and what they might signal for the next generation of children.
Often an inspiration for artwork and music, classic Americana is an untapped resource for baby names rich in history and culture.
These names have American roots. These names have an American image, but (with some exceptions) most aren’t even popular in America. But they have styles appealing to many American parents.
America – Admittedly this is not a surprising pick. What is surprising is how long America has been around as a given name. America first came into use as a given name in America in the 19th century. The name first made the Social Security top 1000 list back in 1880, the earliest year for name rankings.