Category: Appellation Mountain
Naming a boy has always been a little bit different.
It isn’t harder, necessarily. For some parents, settling on a son’s name is a picnic compared to naming a daughter.
But there are definitely some differences in the way we think about boys’ names.
A glance at the US Top 100 lists from 1963 and 2013 suggests that the most popular names have gotten longer over the last fifty years. Back in 1963, the only Top 100 name longer than three syllables was Elizabeth.
There are more three-syllable names, and fewer single-syllable ones, too.
Friends of mine are expecting baby #3. After two nicely-named daughters, the dad told me, “If it’s a boy, we’re pretty set. But if it’s a girl? I’ll have to start going through my favorite song titles.”
Happily, there’s no shortage of great names for girls from popular songs.
Unlike television and movie characters, there’s not always a link between the song’s release date and the name’s heyday.
Some names are already wildly popular when the song is written. Remember Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309” from 1981? It was only a matter of time until someone scored a hit with the heard-everywhere Jenny in the lyrics.
Other names stick around long enough for more than one single.
Some parents of baby boy Wyatts are nervous. Will Wyatt go girl? Others who had shortlisted Wyatt for a possible child someday might be rethinking. No one wants to introduce their child and have another mom respond, “Oh, like Ashton and Mila’s baby?”
The kerfuffle reminds me of singer Michelle Branch. In 2005, at the height of her success, she married her bass player and had a daughter called Owen Isabelle. Owen remained a Top 100 choice for boys in the US – gaining more than 20 places since – and is barely a blip for girls.
Lately when I hear a birth announcement, I’ll sometimes find myself thinking: “Oh, what a nice, normal name.”
This is madness, of course. Because there’s no such thing as a normal name.