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Trendy Baby Names: And why not?

abbytrendy

For her round-up of the Nameberry 9 newsiest names this week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel asks us to think about why we sometimes shy away from trendy baby names.

I’ve heard parents fret that they can’t use Harper now that the Beckhams have bestowed it on a daughter. Suggest that you might name a son Jayden and you’ll be warned that the name will be considered trendy, dated, damaging to your child’s future career. What’s worse, we scan message boards, wondering if our favorite name will be the next rising star.

But why all the worry? Generations of parents have sought out stylish names, even if they haven’t talked about them in quite those terms. My dear grandmother nearly named a daughter Loretta after Hollywood-star-turned-television-host Loretta Young.

We can trace the rise of many appellations to television, celebrities, literature, and other pop culture influences. Even so-called classics often owe their revivals to pop culture. Would Charlotte be the favorite she is today without Sex and the City? Statistics link the character with the name’s resurgence.

Let’s embrace the influences that bring great new names to our attention, even if they’re promoted by the most unlikely of sources.

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Scottish Names

They’re not like those jaunty Irish surnames that kind of jump out and hit you in the face–no way you could see Finnegan or Donovan as anything else.  But Scottish surnames, somewhat more subtly, have affected American nomenclature to a surprising degree.

Many that could pass for Irish or English are actually old Scottish clan names, and several have long been accepted as first names in this country–a list that includes Allan, Bruce, Douglas, Leslie, Mitchell, Murray, Stewart, Gordon, Lindsay, and, of course, Scott.

Scottish surnames are divided into two groups: Highland and Lowland.  Highlanders didn’t use fixed family names until relatively late–until the 1700’s a man was often designated by his father’s name or would adopt the last name of a laird to curry his favor.  It was the Gaelic Highlanders who used the prefix ‘Mac‘ to denote ‘son of”. 

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