Category: Unisex Baby Names
We’re always adding new names to the database, and here are Nameberry’s ten newest baby names 2013:
Sunniva — Thanks, Mom2Seven, for urging us to add the ancient saint’s name Sunniva to the Nameberry database. Â Saint Sunniva was born in Ireland but fled to Norway when an invading heathen king wanted to marry her. Â With her followers, she hid in a cave on a Norwegian island. Â After her death, miracles on the island led to an excavation of the cave, where Sunniva‘s body was found intact. Â Sunniva, pronounced SOON-ee-va, is the patron saint of Western Norway, making this a distinctive choice for a family with Norwegian ancestry. Â That’s her above on a Norwegian stamp.
Swithin — Saint Swithin, whose name is also spelled Swithun, is well-known throughout Britain for his July 15 feast day, which is believed to determine the weather for the next 40 days. Â The original Swithin was the bishop of Winchester, where his remains are interred in the famous cathedral.
By now, youâ€™ve almost certainly heard about Blaer Bjarkardottir.
Sheâ€™s just won the legal right to use her name.Â Fifteen years ago, Blaerâ€™s mom unknowingly gave her daughter a name that does not appear on the official list of 1,853 names permitted for baby girls in Iceland.Â The mistake was discovered only after Blaerâ€™s baptism.
A Nobel Prize-winning novelist had used the name for a female character.Â Plus, Blaerâ€™s mom knew another woman with the name â€“ itâ€™s where she got the idea in the first place.
It turns out that even in a country with official lists, things can be a little bit fuzzy.
There are no official lists in the U.S., but plenty of us might like to impose them.
Trouble is, even if there were rules at a given moment, theyâ€™re always subject to change.Â What was true in 1960 â€“ or 1860 â€“ wonâ€™t hold in 2013.
This brings us to a great quote from Swistle: â€śNames, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.â€ť
Watch out, Berries–today’s guest blogger, Claire Shefchik, has plenty of bones to pick!
Since the age of six, Iâ€™ve loved names. Â Back then, whenever I renamed myself, I was Crystal (spelled Christal) and later, Jordan. Â These days, I prefer Presley to Penelope, Jayden to Jasper. Â In the novel Iâ€™m writing, two of the main characters are Dempsey and Vaughan–female characters. Eek! Â Thatâ€™s right, I am a name heretic.
When, a few years ago, I came across the Nameberry-led community of Internet naming enthusiasts, I thought Iâ€™d found heaven (sorry, â€śnevaehâ€ť). Â But I found myself, more often than not, at odds with my fellow â€śname nerds.â€ť Â Many claim to be open-minded and liberal, but are much more rigid in their approach to naming than youâ€™d think, especially when it comes to names popular with, as one poster put it, “the Wal-Mart set.” Â Another poster declared her goal was to encourage â€śclassically-named babies,â€ť which letâ€™s face it, is just a euphemism for “babies with names of which I, as the self-appointed arbiter of taste, approve.â€ť
Unisex names and the question of whether a child’s gender should be evident via his or her name is one that comes up frequently on Nameberry. Â It’s an issue that’s changed a lot over the years we’ve been writing about baby names and that varies substantially in different cultures.
Starting with the baby boomlet of the 1980s, the first wave of feminist parents gave girls androgynous names like Morgan and Parker to make them more competitive with boys…..while parents of boys abandoned unisex names in favor of more traditional masculine choices. Â Next came names that broke away from traditional boy or girl choices — Logan and Lake, Bellamy and Finn — but still somehow held onto a gendered identity.
Despite vast changes in naming practices around the world, some ancient cultures accommodate names that work for either sex — Japan is a notable example — while other countries such as Norway require that names carry gender identity. Â Germany changed its naming laws in 2008 to allow the use of unisex names.
Few subjects are as divisive as gender neutral baby names, and yet I canâ€™t stop talking about them. Â Some of us deny their very existence.Â Others are willing to call a daughter James, but hesitate to name a son Avery or Madison.Â Many of us are discovering nature names or other novel appellations, ones that donâ€™t easily declare themselves pink or blue.
Not every culture splits names into such neat categories, and names certainly shift over time.Â Plenty of ends-in-a options, like Noah and Joshua have become favorites for boys, even though theyâ€™re very different from the once-dominant Bob, Tom, and Bill – proof that we can reconsider names every generation, if not more often.