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state names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

When it comes to picking a place name for your child, you could consider a continent like Asia, a country like India, a city like Vienna or Verona…or one of the select group of U.S. states that lend themselves to babies’ birth certificates. Here are the Nameberry picks of the best state names and how they came to be—with their mix of Native American, British and French origins.

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Banned Baby Names: No Toms in Tomar

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If you were Anderson Cooper and you had been born in Germany, you wouldn’t be Anderson Cooper, because Germany is just one of a surprising number of countries with strict baby-naming rules and regulations. In some instances, as in Italy and Sweden, the motivation is humane—trying to spare the child embarrassment, ridicule and bullying in the increasingly wild and wooly international baby-name environment. In fact, some of these are not long-standing strictures, but relatively recent ones.

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The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Brooklyn is big in Sioux City. Jack remains #1 in Scotland, Jayden is #2 in California, and Liam is most popular in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If it is the end of the year, it is time for top names, and individual health systems to entire countries oblige by releasing their data.

But what does it mean if you are actually choosing a name for a child in the next few months?

Some parents insist on avoiding the newly-declared Top Ten, even if Noah or William was a long-time favorite. Others hope for something familiar, but not shared with too many others. And some of us will go to the fringes, considering obscurities from the dictionary and our family trees.

Maybe the best part of naming a kiddo in 2014 is that you don’t have to opt for something as daring as Godred or Thelonious, or as Hollywood-issued as Rainbow or North to choose a distinctive name.

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In this week’s Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel talks about names with some personal significance that’s not necessarily obvious on the surface.

Sometimes the craziest name becomes instantly charming the second we learn the backstory.  Meaning matters, and I’m always impressed when parents take the time to seek out names rich with personal significance.

Passing down family names is great, but this idea takes it one step further.  It’s a process of thinking about what’s important to your family.  Favorite places, artists, experiences that signify something about the pregnancy.  Think of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt’s middle name, inspired by architect Jean Nouvel, or Zuma Rossdale, possibly a nod to a Malibu beach important to his dad.

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