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posted by: Nick View all posts by this author
car names--NT

By Nick Turner

If you’re like me, your favorite baby names are ones that peaked at least 100 years ago. But I always seem to have an easier time finding great “century names” for girls than boys. (When we named our kids, my female list was much longer than my male one.)

So I was excited to discover a rich source of vintage boys’ names: the early auto industry.

Automobile pioneers were active in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which means they have fabulous names. (There’s not much in the way of girls’ choices here, but we can all take solace in the fact that the auto industry is less sexist than it used to be. America‘s largest automaker, General Motors, is currently run by a woman.)

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abby--9-23-13

Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Imagine that you were put in charge of names.

Effective immediately, you are the recorder of all given names, and no newborn’s birth certificate is official until it has received your stamp of approval.

After a giddy moment or two – think of all the names you’ll see! – reality sets in.  Will you impose rules?  What will the rules be?  Would you establish an official list of approved names?  Guidelines?  Is there an appeals process?

In the US and much of the world, we tend to respect the parents’ right to choose a child’s name, even if that name raises a few eyebrows.  Case in point: the baby briefly known as Martin McCullough has now been restored to his birth name, Messiah

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boy100blog

Last week, we unearthed 14 under-the-radar names for girls, none of which is in the current Top 1000, and this week we are doing the same for the boys. Unlike their sisters’ choices, some of these unusual baby names are more quirky than classic, though we’ve included some ancient and biblical goodies, and a couple of admirable imports. All of them were more popular in the past— and we think the time has come for their second act.

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flash

This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel finds boys’ names that are anything but traditional, and wonders if nickname-free is the new priority when naming a son.

Flip through on an old high school yearbook, and you’ll probably find pictures of WilliamBillyJones and MaryMimiSmith.

For generations, there was the name your parents chose, and then there was the name you actually used.

Some names were outgrown, of course.  Others held on long after you’d expect them to fade.  My great-uncle Flash was once a high school track star, but even as a portly gentleman in his 60s, he still answered to his nickname.

Of course, Billy and Mimi and Flash grew up in an era when lots of kids shared the same names, sometimes in the same family.  Flash was really Anthony, as were a few of his cousins.  Mimi is one of three Marys on her yearbook page alone.

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presjeff

Ever since the first American baby was christened Washington Smith, there has been a tradition here—just as the Brits honor their Royals–to draw inspiration from the surnames of U.S. presidents, with Grant, Tyler, Taylor, Madison, and now Jackson landing high on the hit parade. So here, for President’s Day, are some examples drawn from our history that still resonate—even if the connection to the Commander-in-Chief isn’t always immediately apparent.

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