Category: baby name Holden
It’s been a great week for welcoming boys!
Eric Christian Olsen, Kate Levering, Fergie and Josh Duhamel have all brought home new sons. The parents have something in common besides making headlines. Their naming style might be called modern classic.
This category is different. These are names that would have been considered unusual – maybe even strange – just a few decades back. But today, they’re mainstream, go-to appellations.
Call them Goldilocks names. There are buttoned-down classics like James and George, and daring never-heard-before ones like Pilot and Zuma. Goldilocks choices are at neither extreme. They’re just right, falling into the wide middle: very wearable, but probably not your grandpa’s name. Sure, they might be this generation’s Larry and Jerry, Ronald and Keith. But they make for great choices in 2013.
Last week we asked you to nominate your favorite literary names for girls and were flooded with wonderful ideas, from the expected Matilda and Eloise to intriguing names such as Remedios (from 100 Years of Solitude) to Adah (of The Poisonwood Bible).
And now it’s the boys’ turn. What are your favorite boys’ names from books?
What great names, and great literary heroes, can you add to the list?
We don’t particularly think of Woody Allen as a cutting-edge filmmaker, but there is one area in which he has been—if unwittingly—prescient, and that is in giving some of his characters names that would later become trendy choices for babies. (Though there are no babies in his films—children hardly exist in Woody’s World.)
For those characters he created for himself, he chose, with a few exceptions, pretty ordinary, sometimes nicknamey names—Alvy, Sandy, Mickey, Lenny, Larry, Jerry, Sid, Gabe, Sheldon, Isaac. But for others, he did come up with some inspired choices:
Alfie—You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, 2010 (Anthony Hopkins). A fittingly British choice for a British character—but it’s doubtful if Woody knew that Alfie was the fourth most popular name for UK baby boys born in 2010.
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.
Would you believe that we recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the publication of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye? To commemorate — a year after Salinger himself passed away at the age of 91 — here’s a look at the names of some of his protagonists:
Holden. Holden Caulfield is one of the twentieth century’s iconic anti-heroes. A surname in origin, Holden derives from a little place in Lancashire, England, meaning “hollow valley.” Salinger may well have chosen it because it sounds like “hold on” – just as Holden wanted to do to preserve the innocence of children, as “the catcher in the rye.” Holden has been gradually rising in use in the US over the past twenty-five years, and is now ranked at Number 316.
Phoebe. Holden’s little sister. From the Greek phoibos “bright, radiant,” very appropriate for the character Holden idealizes. Phoebe is also the name of a Titaness – a daughter of Uranus and Ge. It was not uncommon as a name in antiquity, and stumbled into The New Testament. In past centuries, Phebe was often the preferred form. The best know Phoebe is recent years is Phoebe Buffay, in Friends (followed by Phoebe Halliwell in Charmed). Ironically, it was the UK that felt Phoebe Buffay’s influence greatest, with the name mushrooming in use virtually overnight. In 2009, it was in 23rd place in the UK — but falling. In the US, it has been steadily climbing since the late eighties but is still far from common.