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This year, more than ever, pop culture has been the driving force behind the most steeply climbing baby names. Those that saw the greatest upswings in popularity were inspired by rappers, reality and scripted TV, by sports stars and by starbabies. And they also reflected some broad general trends, such as exotic flower names, boys’ names for girls, ancient boy and vintage girl names, and geographic place names. Here are some of the most striking examples.

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What’s Your Favorite Place Name?

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Place names for people are a category that’s exploded over the past generation.

A couple of decades ago, names like Dakota and Chelsea were hot and trendy, while  Paris and London were wildly exotic.

Today, place name possibilities have moved far beyond such standards as Asia and Georgia.

There are popular city names — Savannah, Brooklyn, Milan — as well as state and country names, from Indiana to India.

There are place names that reference mountain ranges, like Sierra, or bodies of water, such as Hudson.  Place names can even refer to otherworldly locales, such as Heaven, Orion, or Zion.

Some place names owe their popularity to the epically beautiful places they reference: Kenya, for instance, and Venice.  And then there are those names that are much more attractive than the places they represent: We’re thinking of Trenton, Camden, Detroit.

Several celebrities have helped make the place name fashion more, well, fashionable.  Just last year, Reese Witherspoon had a son named Tennessee, while Jemima Kirke named her boy Memphis.

Our question this week: Would you use a place name for your child?  Have you used one?  In the first place, or only as a middle?

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For the Nameberry 9 this week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain finds a group of sweet spot baby names--names that sound modern and new, but are still based in tradition.

After last week’s birth announcement for Rainbow Aurora, I thought it might be a quiet week.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Baby names trends are constantly evolving, but I’m struck by a theme in this week’s baby name news. It’s the continuing rise of Modern Choices with Roots. This week’s appellations weren’t as out there as Rainbow, but they’re not all conventionally established names, either.

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Forbidden Baby Names: Where to draw the line?

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In her Nameberry 9 this week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel ponders whether there are some names that cross the line– whether there are such things as forbidden baby names.

This week’s baby name news has me wondering: what makes a name truly off limits?  I don’t mean names that just aren’t your style, but names that actually strike you as inappropriate, even unfair, to give to a child.

It’s a tough line to draw.  Some names are fine until they’re paired with a specific surname, like famed Texas philanthropist Ima Hogg.  Others have associations that are difficult to shake, be they positive or otherwise.  Would you name a child Elmo? Adolf seems like a burden, but what if your beloved grandpa was an Adolf?

Creative respellings put many parents off, while others have negative reactions to surnames, invented names, place names … the list is endless.  But when does it cross the line from not for me, thanks, into who does that?

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