Category: Appellation Mountain
Some weeks, the baby names in the news are aggressively modern. Rocket and Rebel, Ryder and Stryker. Girls can be James. While boys can’t be Sue, there’s no guessing if Kayden, Peyton, and Riley are boys or girls.
Factor in names borrowed from nature, colors, virtues, meanings, and the map, and it can feel like every parent-to-be is considering names that would be right at home in The Hunger Games. Welcome to the world, Ocean, Indigo, and Haven. May the odds be ever in your favor.
All of that novelty can make classic, even conservative names seem refreshing.
Little ladies and gentlemen dominated this week’s headlines. They’re names with history and roots, vintage revivals that are back in 2014, or will be back by 2024. Or 2054. And they’ll always come back – eventually – because they’re just that enduring.
By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
Now list the names that are one of one.
I only know a single girl called Ida, and just one named Arcadia. My son built sand castles with a little Maxine on a long-ago beach vacation, and I’ve never forgotten her name. Cordelia and Monica, Zinnia and Murielle, Helen and Claudia – they all stand out, associated with just a single child.
Just when it seemed like no one was having babies this week, the fashion stylist welcomed twin daughters. You might have caught Zanna talking fashion as a correspondent on The Today Show, or as a judge on Project Runway. She’s also senior fashion editor at Marie Claire, so no surprise that she and her husband, Milk Studios founder Mazdak Rassi, have chosen stunningly stylish names for their girls.
But the new arrivals’ names aren’t just stylish – they’re downright quirky.
The other night a friend asked me what happens to kids with really strange names. Not made up names, or names with crazy spellings, he clarified. Names like Apple. Or Bartholomew. Names that make you do a double take when you spot them on the birth announcement. Names that make you say “Really?” when you should be saying “Congratulations!”
Nothing. Nothing happens.
Actually, everything happens – the kids grow up and have the same kinds of adventures and heartaches and triumphs and debacles that we all have from cradle to grave. Their name is part of their story, but even if their name is Clove or Cashel or Cordelia, it is only a part.
Confession: I’ve watched Kid President’s latest YouTube video more than a dozen times. It’s called “Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here,” and even though little Robby Novak (a.k.a. Kid President) never mentions names, it reminds me of the happiest part of talking all things onomastic.
Around 360,000 babies are born every day. That’s 4.2 newborns every second. Even if we limited it to arrivals in the English-speaking world, it would take a lot of berry brainpower to help find names for all of those lovely new people.
It’s worth looking for the right name, isn’t it? All of these new people are going to do some amazing things. At their best, the names we bestow on our children honor that potential.