Category: baby name Axel
The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years. In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas. Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant. Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.
As for the girls? That’s a different picture. Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell. Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace. None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.
And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before. Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline. We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.
We don’t particularly think of Woody Allen as a cutting-edge filmmaker, but there is one area in which he has been—if unwittingly—prescient, and that is in giving some of his characters names that would later become trendy choices for babies. (Though there are no babies in his films—children hardly exist in Woody’s World.)
For those characters he created for himself, he chose, with a few exceptions, pretty ordinary, sometimes nicknamey names—Alvy, Sandy, Mickey, Lenny, Larry, Jerry, Sid, Gabe, Sheldon, Isaac. But for others, he did come up with some inspired choices:
Alfie—You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, 2010 (Anthony Hopkins). A fittingly British choice for a British character—but it’s doubtful if Woody knew that Alfie was the fourth most popular name for UK baby boys born in 2010.
Usually, when baby names are related, the resemblance is pretty obvious. For example, Christopher’s foreign versions include Christophe and Christos and his short form is Chris; Patricia is otherwise known as Patrizia or Patrice, Pat or Patty.
This can come in handy if you’re looking for an invisible (to non-nerds) or at least indirect route to honoring a namesake. Ways you can do this include finding an interesting but accessible international variation, or an unexpected nickname that can be used on its own, or a mythological, biblical, or other name switch, or dual identity.
Conventional wisdom says that parents are willing to take risks with their daughters’ names, but turn conservative as soon as they hear the words “It’s a boy!”
There’s some truth to that, and yet I know more and more little fellows with daring names. The US Top 100 bears this out, too, from Noah to Jayden to Chase, all names that sound mainstream today, but violate some of the traditional norms of naming boys.
I think I might have landed on one of the reasons this week: 80s glam metal.
In 1981, a United Nations resolution was passed creating an International Day of Peace—aka Peace Day—on September 21st, devoted to encouraging efforts for worldwide peace. Well, obviously, we’ve got a long way to go on the global front, but as our own small baby step towards the effort is to offer some names that connote peacefulness, calm and serenity.
There are many other international variations of some of the key ‘peace’ names—Shalom and Solomon, Irene, Godfrey, Frederick—in addition to the ones below, as well names reflecting the symbols of peace, the dove and the olive branch. Here are some of the most usable of the names meaning peace.
Columba—Latin, dove, symbol of peace
Dove—English, symbol of peace
Farica—Teutonic, chief of peace