Category: Appellation Mountain
Gaiman did say this: “We must not attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meaning and pronunciations to change with time.”
If language is a living thing, doesn’t the same hold true for names?
Some words endure with minimal alteration, and some names do, too. But for every Elizabeth, there’s a Samantha – a name that feels rich with history, but is actually almost unknown until the nineteenth century. Or Brooke, a name that feels established and sophisticated, but would have been out of place a hundred years ago.
What makes a name a true classic?
Very few names have been in constant use, and those few evergreen choices differ across cultures and languages.
A definition is elusive. A classic should be universally recognized and long established. It should possess either a measure of elegance or another distinguishing characteristic. But classic isn’t a black and white line. In baby name discussions, classic sometimes translates as “a name I like.”
Are Adelaide and Charlotte as classic as Mary? How do Walter and Jeremy compare to William and James? How about names like Samantha or Brooke – seldom heard before the twentieth century, but now solidly established? How many years does it take to make a classic, bearing in mind that classic rock is sometimes as young as five decades old.
In hemlines and hairdos, in music and cuisine and baby names, too.
Once upon a time, Mildred was a Top Ten name in the US. Clarence, Connie, Randy, Dawn, Eugene, Norman, Norma, Crystal, Dustin, Myrtle, and Elmer have all ranked in the Top 50 names at one point or another.
It can take years for a name to transition from emerging trend to solidly established choice. But this week’s baby name news highlights many of the changes happening now.
Change is constant, but some of the outcomes are fresh and new, and it is too soon to say which names will catch on. Will Americans embrace truly gender neutral names? Are noun names mainstream? Should you double-check the spelling on every single name, no matter what?
Read on for nine baby names in the news, and what they might signal for the next generation of children.
This past week was different. Could we be ushering in a new era of D and E names? Or is it just coincidence that three celeb birth announcements for baby boys started with the letter D this week?
With favorites like Ella and Emma, it comes as no surprise that the letter E is currently the fifth most popular letter for girls’ given names in the US. For boys, D ranked #5 last year (behind J, A, C, and M) while E came in at #8.
What does that mean for expectant parents? If you’re after a truly stand-out name, it might be worth considering a lesser-used initial, like H, T, O, or F. Alternately, a really unusual name, like Avalon or Arden, isn’t so strange when lots of little girls are answering to Ava and Allison.
D and E names could hit that sweet spot – familiar, but not overused. Or they could be catching on, ready to eclipse A in the next few years.
Now, on to those great D and E baby names in news:
I’ve often said that if our second child were a boy, he would have gone nameless.
Blame it on our preferences. My husband and I planned to source family names for our children, without thinking about the imbalance. We have tons of women in our family, with a rich list of interesting names. The pool of masculine names is much smaller, and repeats, again and again, over the generations. Naming a second – or third or fourth – son would have required a willingness to reinvent some antiques and reconsider a few imports.
Is Zbigniew wearable in the US?
But let’s say that we were open to finding a great name, not one with family ties necessarily. Just a name that would serve our child well from infancy into adulthood.
Happily, there’s no shortage of those.