By Linda Rosenkrantz
Back in the 1930s and 40s, girls’ names ending in the feminissima French suffix “ette” were the cat’s pajamas. There were glamorous movie stars named Claudette, Paulette and Jeanette, and lots of little girls dubbed Annette and Nanette. But now a funny thing has happened on the way to the nursery: the final ‘e’ has disappeared and suddenly ‘ett’ is one of the hottest endings for boys.
In the recently released list of top names on Nameberry so far this year, there were three two-syllable ‘ett’ boys in the Top 45—Emmett, Everett and Beckett, while also high up on the national list were Bennett, Garrett and Barrett—and if you throw in the single syllable Jett, Rhett and Brett, and sharing the double ‘t’ Wyatt and Elliott, you’ve got the makings of a full soccer team.
Let’s face it : the blank slate of naming your first child can be intimidating.
Will you stick with the classics? Or would you be happier with a Cricket instead of a Charlotte, a Wylie rather than a William? You’ve always liked your mother’s maiden name, Davis, and then there’s his fabulous Great Aunt Marguerite – but do you want to hand down family names, or is it better to start fresh? Is Wyatt too trendy? Is Cordelia too obscure?
It’s a riddle, but despite dire warnings of name regret, most parents seem to choose a perfectly suitable name for their firstborn.
Welcoming a second child means that you’ve got a crib and car seat already, but when it comes to names, you’re back at the beginning.
Or are you? Because not only will you revisit many of the questions from the first round, you’ll also have to consider whether baby #2’s name matches, clashes – or matches too much – with the big brother or sister-to-be.
Many of the stories about the recent US Popular Names list focus on the names at the top and on the rise: the Sophias and Jacobs, Khaleesis and Jayceons of the baby name world.
But, just as some names go up, others must come down. The following 20 girls’ names fell out of the Top 1000 in 2013, some of them perhaps just taking a nap, others on a long slide toward obsolescence.
Both of these short forms for Abigail sank even as the original remains in the Top 10. The venerable Abbie has been more popular over the decades than Abigail herself, spending only 35 years outside the Top 1000 since the list’s inception in 1880, compared with Abigail’s 43. Abbey, the younger of the sisters, entered the rankings in 1978 where it remained until this year.
As the authors of a book called, ahem, Cool Names for Babies, we have put ourselves in the position of being the arbiters of coolness when it comes to baby names.
Which is a very hard thing to define. In the book, we deal with the question by pointing out, quite rightly, that there are many different kinds of cool baby names. There are vintage cool names and newly-minted names that many consider cool, there are the names of undeniably cool heroes such as Abraham Lincoln or Booker T. Washington and there are the names of cool literary or film characters.
On Twitter recently, we pointed out a name whose sound to us was undeniably cool — Domino — and the single response was someone saying: Um….nope.
So now we’re turning it back on you. What names do YOU think are cool? And why?