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The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Don’t you love a good baby name controversy?

If you’re in the UK, ITV’s This Morning provided a delicious one last week. The show is exactly what the name implies – a morning talk program with chatter and discussion about current topics, something like The View.

Co-host Holly Willoughby recently introduced the topic of baby names. Guest Katie Hopkins – a reality show villain turned media personality – went on a rant about the names that she dislikes, adding that her children aren’t allowed to play with kids with certain kinds of names.

Hopkins was dismissive of lots of choices, including geographic ones – despite the fact that her daughter is called India. (“It’s not related to a location,” she protested.) Her other children are Poppy and Maximillian.

Another panelist characterized Hopkins as cruel and snooty. I’m inclined to agree. And yet one thing she said struck a chord. She characterized names as shortcuts.

I’m afraid that might be uncomfortably close to the truth.

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Today, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel, finds some 2013 baby name predictions embedded in this week’s Nameberry 9 newsiest names.

As 2012 faded into 2013, the world welcomed many a new little life.  Re-reading birth announcements, I was struck by something.

None of them received outlandish names, but every one of them seemed nicely creative.

Some are memorable and meaningful choices, while others are mainstream firsts paired with unexpected middles.

Does it speak to an age where we won’t dismiss names as weird?  Have we stopped worrying that our children can’t be district attorneys or heart surgeons if we name them something other than Katherine or James?  Are filler middles really gone for good?

It all adds up to a great year ahead for baby names – whether you’re naming a child or just spending lots of time thinking about what we might name a child.  And that’s before we consider the latest addition to the Kardashian family …

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Though its current associations might run more to barbecues, picnics and parades, Memorial Day conjures up a load of historic references dating back to its post-Civil War origins, as well as some more contemporary traditions.

There are several blogs-worth of noteworthy Civil War generals’ names alone—Alpheus, Americus, Cassius, Gustavus, Lafayette, Napoleon, Pleasant, Romeyn, for starters– but for now we’ve included just a few of the most intriguing, as well as some less obvious Memorial Day names associated with the holiday.

BLUE and GREYThe colors of the  uniforms of the Union and Confederate soldiers fighting the Civil War (the Confederate soldiers sometimes referred to the Yankees disparagingly as ‘bluebellies’),  Blue and Gray are the current coolest of the unisex color names. Blue Ivy is the much-discussed name picked by Beyoncé and Jay-Z for their daughter; actress Jenna von Oy recently named her daughter Gray.

CATHAYCathay Williams—aka William Cathay—was one of many women who passed as men to serve as Civil War soldiers.  A former slave, she was the first African-American woman to enlist. Cathay is an evocative old term for China used by Marco Polo that could make an interesting choice—if it weren’t in danger of being constantly confused with Cathy.

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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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