Category: baby name Phoebe
Lately when I hear a birth announcement, I’ll sometimes find myself thinking: “Oh, what a nice, normal name.”
This is madness, of course. Because there’s no such thing as a normal name.
In 1642, Oliver Cromwell led a contingent of parliamentarians against King Charles I, defeating him in what became known as the English Civil War and giving rise to the only occasion in modern British history where the monarchy has not held power. Three and a half centuries later, he became my husband’s hero for it, my husband who is a constitutional lawyer and a committed republican (small ‘r’). In the years before the arrival of our first child, we lived in Oxford, both of us affiliated with the University there. Amidst its hallowed halls and Gothic spires, people would talk in hushed tones about their ‘periods’ of expertise. My husband’s period was the seventeenth century. Cromwell was his guy.
Unsurprisingly, Oliver was always his first choice for a boy’s name. It became mine too. We said we weren’t having children, though, so we bestowed instead the name Cromwell upon our future dog, a brown and white beagle. Things changed and we didn’t get the dog. But we did welcome a son who was, of course, called Oliver. My husband wanted it because it was traditional and historically grounded. I wanted it because it was sparky and unconventional. It is both of those things, depending on where you come from: this is what has made the Venn diagram effect of our name selection so successful. The year Oliver was born it was the fifth most popular baby name in the UK. In the US, it hadn’t even broken the top 100.
Every three months, when we prepare these quarterly reports, we’re knocked out by the endlessly creative variety of choices made (and I’m sure there are lots more that didn’t make it into the Birth Announcement Forum), the felicitous first and middle name combos and the great twin and other sibsets.
This time around there are reports of ten sets of twins:
Last week’s baby name news demonstrated two things: first, there’s no such thing as a name too fusty to make a comeback. Girls’ names change constantly. Now that Emma, Charlotte, and Evelyn are appearing on kindergarten rosters all over America, choices like Alice, Josephine and June feel fresh.
Second, parents truly are becoming quite daring when naming their sons. For years we took risks with our daughters’ names, using frilly feminissa appellations like Arabella as well as tailored ones like Ingrid or Sawyer. The name pool for boys remained relatively shallow.