Category: Baby name news
Are we becoming more tolerant of creative names?
My kids’ friends and classmates are a diverse lot, and their names reflect it. There’s Seamus and Shivarama, a boy named Delaney and a girl called Jordan. Yes, we have Matthew and Sam and Zoe. But in their school of 300 kids, I can count the number of names that repeat on one hand.
Even though we know lots of boys with unusual names, it seems like girls have the edge. Statistics bear it out. In 2012, over 78% of boys received a Top 1000 name, but fewer than 67% of all girls did.
This past week seemed to be all about unusual, but perfectly wearable, names for girls. I’m not thinking of headline-grabbing choices like North and Khaleesi. Instead, I’m thinking of the wide universe of wearable names, choices that are a little bit different, but not staggeringly strange.
It’s easy to belittle a parent’s search for a unique name. Headlines call it self-centered and short-sighted. But if you went through school as Jessica or Jennifer, one among many, is it so wrong to want your child to be one of one, at least in her kindergarten?
This week was all about the quest for a distinctive name.
There was nothing truly surprising in the baby name news – no Buddy Bear Maurice or Rainbow Aurora. Instead, there’s been a treasure trove of very wearable names that all feel just a little bit different.
What makes them stand out choices? For some, it’s a high value Scrabble letter, like V, X, or Z. Others are super short, even brisk. And giving a masculine name to a daughter is always a sure-fire way to grab attention, for better and for worse.
Not every parent would – or should – consider every trend, but it is exciting just how many choices manage to be both unusual and perfectly normal at once.
Before we get to her new daughter’s colorful moniker, let’s pause and consider the other issue Madison raised: to share or not to share your baby’s name in advance?
Madison split the difference.
She hinted throughout her pregnancy that she was going to choose something different, even comparing it to that much-maligned celeb kid choice, Apple.
I’d been pouring over her Twitter feed looking for clues to her baby’s name, and completely missed that one.
So the choices for expectant parents in 2013 are: tell the world your name before the arrival, keep mum until you’ve already made it official, or use social media to drop broad hints to all of your faithful followers.
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.
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Blaer Bjarkardottir.
She’s just won the legal right to use her name. Fifteen years ago, Blaer’s mom unknowingly gave her daughter a name that does not appear on the official list of 1,853 names permitted for baby girls in Iceland. The mistake was discovered only after Blaer’s baptism.
A Nobel Prize-winning novelist had used the name for a female character. Plus, Blaer’s mom knew another woman with the name – it’s where she got the idea in the first place.
It turns out that even in a country with official lists, things can be a little bit fuzzy.
There are no official lists in the U.S., but plenty of us might like to impose them.
Trouble is, even if there were rules at a given moment, they’re always subject to change. What was true in 1960 – or 1860 – won’t hold in 2013.
This brings us to a great quote from Swistle: “Names, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.”