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posted by: upswingbabynames View all posts by this author
tv baby names

by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

Fifty years ago, a prime-time comedy launched on ABC. That show was Bewitched, and it put the name Samantha on the map. Here’s how the numbers pan out:

  • The year before the show, 1963, there were fewer than 100 born in the U.S.
  • By 1964, there were over 400 born
  • By 1965, there almost 2,000 born

That same year, 1965, Samantha hit the top 200 ranks at 179. Pretty impressive considering that only two years earlier Samantha didn’t even make the top 1000.

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posted by: waltzingmorethanmatilda View all posts by this author
annaboy

By Anna Otto of Waltzing More Than Matilda

1. Caspian

Caspian is a character in C.S. Lewis’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. As a young boy in Prince Caspian, he had to fight for his throne against his usurping uncle to become king of Narnia, and as a youth in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader he led a daring expedition to the end of the world. In The Silver Chair, we meet him as a very old man, having reigned wisely and well, but also suffering personal tragedy. Because of his great sea voyage, he is known as Caspian the Seafarer. Perhaps because of this connection, Lewis named his character after the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland body of water; Caspian is a romantic geographic name which sounds rather like Casper with a Latin -ian ending. Actress Neve Campbell used it for her son.

2. Dexter

Dexter Morgan is the protagonist of the Dexter series of psychological thrillers by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter works for the police as a forensic blood spatter analyst, but is a serial killer in his spare time–though only killing murderers, rapists, and other criminals. Dexter is an English occupational surname for someone who dyed cloth, literally “dyer” in Anglo-Saxon. The word was originally feminine, but Dexter has overwhelmingly been used as a male name. Dexter also happens to coincide with the Latin for “right handed,” with connotations of being skilful. The books have inspired a popular television series, with Michael C. Hall in the title role, and since Dexter began airing in 2006, the name (which was about to slip off the Top 1000) has gone steadily up in popularity in the US; it is currently #362. It may seem strange that a serial killer could save the name, but Dexter Morgan is an oddly sympathetic murderer and (perhaps slightly worryingly) female viewers find the character very attractive. Dexter fits in the surnames-for-boys trend, and has a cool X sound in it.

3. Dorian

Dorian Gray is the protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  An extremely handsome young man who wishes his portrait could age while his own beauty remains changeless, his narcissistic wish is granted, and he spends his life in debauchery while retaining a youthful appearance, as his hidden portrait bears the mark of his every corruption. It is usually assumed that Wilde took the name Dorian from the Dorian people of ancient Greece–the Greeks did have names from this source, such as Dorieus and Doris. However, Dorian is also an Irish surname from O’Deoradhain, meaning “son of Deorain.”  Use of the name predates the novel’s publication, and in Eastern Europe it may be a pet form of TeodorDorian is sometimes used for girls. Despite Dorian Gray being an evil character, the name has remained in use, and is #558 in the US, and #549 and rising in the UK.

4. Heathcliff

Heathcliff is the male lead character in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the foster-brother and love of Catherine Earnshaw. The novel explores the deep and obsessive love that Cathy and Heathcliff have for each other, and how the thwarting of that love turned Heathcliff into a tortured monster, though many think of Heathcliff as the Byronic hero and romantic lover whose passion lived beyond the grave. In film, he has been portrayed most memorably by Laurence Olivier.  Heathcliff is an uncommon English surname meaning “heath on the cliff”; it doesn’t seem to have been used as a personal name before Wuthering Heights, and only rarely since. Actor Heath Ledger was named after Heathcliff (and his sister after Catherine!), and as Heath is a fashionable name at present, Heathcliff doesn’t seem too bizarre as a long form, although admittedly a bold choice.

5. Huckleberry

HuckleberryHuckFinn is the protagonist of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the best friend of the hero in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The son of the town drunk, a neglected vagabond who lives a carefree existence until he is adopted and “civilised,” he runs away with an escaped slave named Jim, and the two travel down the Mississippi River by raft in search of freedom. Huck has been portrayed on film by Mickey Rooney, Ron Howard, Elijah Wood and others. Huckleberry is North American dialect for the bilberry, although in practice applied to several wild berries. The word has long been part of American slang, usually to suggest something small and insignificant – the perfect name for Huck Finn, a child of little consequence in his town. Later it came to mean “companion, sidekick”. Huckleberry was in occasional use as a personal name prior to the publication of Twain’s novels. This would make a sweet, offbeat name, while Huck is a hip short form.

6. Rhett

Rhett Butler is the love interest of Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. A black sheep, he becomes entranced with the spirited Scarlett, and admires her will to survive. Although viewed as a cad by polite Southern society, Rhett is tall, dark, handsome, charming, intelligent, and has a very good understanding of human psychology – especially female.   He is the only person who can stand up to Scarlett, and beat her in a battle of wits. In the 1939 movie, the biggest box office smash in history when adjusted for inflation, Rhett is played by Clark Gable. Rhett is a surname which comes from the Dutch de Raedt, meaning “counsel, advice”. Mitchell seems to have chosen the name as an allusion to her first husband, “Red” Upshaw, on whom the character of Rhett Butler is based (with a dash of Rudolf Valentino). Rhett is a sexy bad boy name; in the U.S. it is #508 and rising.

This is an adaptation of a blog on Anna Otto’s site Waltzingmorethanmatilda.com.  You can see the full, expanded version here.  Anna blogs about a wide variety of Australian names, and Aussie name trends, at Waltzing More Than Matilda.

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TV baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Let’s face it—most TV character names are predictable and dull.  It’s almost as though the screenwriters close their eyes and stick a pin into a list of what seem like age-appropriate monikers—Jim for Grandpa, Jack for Dad, Jackson for Son or Betty for Grandma, Beth for Mom and Becca for Girl.

But luckily there are some exceptions, the creative minority that shine out from the others like glistening gems.  The names below are drawn from the character lists of current shows or those that have recently expired—running on a bewildering number of channels—network, cable and online.  Reality and animated shows not included.

I’ve starred the names that have already seemed to have had an influence in the real world.

GIRLS

Adalind—Grimm

*AmeliaPrivate Practice

*AriaPretty Little Liars

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X Marks the Middle Spot

goldilocks

X is an undeniably cool letter when it comes to baby names, but names that start with X are limited – Xavier, Xanthe, and, uh… — and names that end with x such as Max and Alex have become overused in recent years.

The solution, for the x-loving baby namer, may be to find a name that carries an x in the middle.  Here, a wide range of choices to consider:

Abraxas – This unusual and powerful name is derived from Persian mythology, and dates back to ancient Egyptian Gnostics who worshiped Abraxas as the Supreme Being.

Alexa and Alexis – Among the most popular names on this list, these creative and sophisticated-sounding names are variations of the Greek Alexander family and mean “defending men.”

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upswingblog

What are the baby names moving up fastest in popularity? It’s easy enough to follow those near the top, but which are the less visible, below-the-radar climbers? We took a look at the names that have risen at least 400 places in the past five years, and we found some real surprises such as triplets Adalyn, Adalynn and Adelyn, unconventional spellings like Charlee, Londyn and Karter, kissing cousins Kinley, Kenley, Kinsley and Brynlee–not to mention Yaretzi, which rose 563 places to reach Number 375.
Here are a dozen rapidly-climbing names that are both usable and explicable —often via a celebrity connection.
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