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Reviving Gertrude

By Mikita Brottman

“If you will call a dog Hervey,” said the English author Dr. Johnson, “I shall love him.” This quirky adage was meant to praise the unconventional Hervey family, whom Dr. Johnson found excellent company, but he also put his finger on an important truth, which is that the magic of a name doesn’t lie in the name itself, but in those who bear it. It’s the owners of the name that give it a glamorous aura, which is then passed on to others, even if they happen to be a dog.

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1950s baby names

By Kara Cavazos of The Art of Naming

The baby girls who were born in 1950 are now grandmothers. They will turn 65 this year! It is safe to say, though, that a lot of their first names may not be getting passed down to their grand-daughters at the same rate that grandpa’s name is probably being given to the boys.

While the boys have some solid classics on their side –even their more dated options like Jerry are well-used today– the girl names have not survived the test of time as well. Take a look at how the top girl names of 1950 rank then and now and see if you don’t agree:

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Italian Baby Names: Popularity and trends

Italian baby names

By Romina Angeleri

Nora Ephron was once asked to write her autobiography in six words. Here it is: “Secret to life, marry an Italian.” Whether or not you follow her advice, you don’t need to go all that way in order to give an Italian name to your baby!

Italian names often have layered meanings and a lot of romance, which makes them a great choice for naming your baby. At the same time – and for much the same reasons – searching for a good Italian name can be tricky. Names that sound perfectly fine to American ears may not be real options in Italy, if, for example, they might sound old-fashioned or carry strong regional connotations. Take Teodora: here’s a great-sounding, but also ancient-sounding name that virtually no one in Italy has chosen for decades. Or Calogero – a once-popular name that has been out of fashion for quite a while.

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familiar baby names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Would you pay tens of thousands of dollars to have a crack team of experts develop a one-of-a-kind name for your baby?

If you’ve got the cash, a Swiss firm has assembled the creative linguists prepared to do just that.  It isn’t clear just how many bespoke baby names the firm has created.

Here’s my guess: the number is small.

Because while many parents crave meaning, and want their child’s name to stand out, we don’t hear a lot of truly unique names that seem pulled from thin air, even in Hollywood.

Well … maybe Suri Cruise.

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Most Popular Baby Names, A to Z

popular baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

We were so entranced with the blog Eleanor Nickerson–aka Elea– did for us on most popular British baby names by letter that we decided to recreate it using the American popularity list.

Our research intern Megan Garon pored over the US statistics to compile the following list of the top girls’ and top boys’ name for every letter from A to Z.   Well, not every letter as it turns out there is no girls’ name starting with U in the Top 1000!

Other interesting facts that emerge when looking at the US popularity list through the alphabetical lens:

— Some letters (E, for instance) include names that are a lot closer to the top of the list than others (F, to cite a nearby example).  This is hardly earth-shattering news and yet, the differences are notable.

— While there are plenty of traditional names heading their letter’s popularity rank, a remarkable number of the top names are new ones.  Take H, for example, where Harper and Hunter trump classics Helen and Henry, or P, where Peyton and Parker dominate rather than Patricia and Paul.

— In a few cases, the top names for a letter for girls and boys are remarkable similar — Riley and Ryan, for instance, and Willow and William, and especially Quinn and Quinn!  This is evidence of the trend toward boys’ and girls’ names taking their sound and style cues from each other.

— When you look at most popular names this way, a few really unusual choices come to the fore by leading their little pack.  We’re looking at you, Ximena, Yaretzi, and Yahir.

Here, the most popular names for every letter in 2013 in the US, with overall standings for the names in parentheses.

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