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Nameberry Picks: The Best Nature Names

nature names

Nature names have become such a huge category of baby names that it’s difficult to corral all of them – the flower names and the animal names, the tree names and the water and weather names – into one list, much less pick the dozen best. But we tried, with several nods to other favorites. Photo by Georgia Brizuela from Documenting Delight.

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Here’s something I overheard recently:

Olivia’s a nice name, but Aria?  Who names a kid after Game of Thrones?

There’s something to that statement, isn’t there?  Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade.  Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference.  They’re very different names.

Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar.  Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too.  After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.

Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.

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By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

What’s the 2014 equivalent of the old phrase “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry?”

Every Aiden, Mason, and Jake?

Every Max, Zac, and Jackson?

The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years.  In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas.  Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant.  Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.

As for the girls?  That’s a different picture.  Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell.  Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace.  None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.

And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before.  Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline.  We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.

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We first talked with the lovely Natalie Hanson, whose husband is musical star Taylor Hanson, when she named her fourth child the amazing Viggo Moriah.  Not only is Natalie a celebrity mom, she’s a name nerd!  We’re delighted and honored to welcome Natalie to Nameberry as a guest blogger.  Here, she looks back on the names she and her husband chose for their four young children and what she’s thinking about for names for her fifth, due this fall.

This October I will celebrate ten years since I first took my adolescent name research and applied it to an actual human being.  This upcoming anniversary has inspired me to look back on the names my husband and I gave to our four children, the ways we chose them, and how they’ve worked out.   Have each of my choices lived up to my hopes? Was my perception of each name’s potential correct, or “ahead of its time”?  Our name stories:

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April showers bring not only May flowers, but thoughts of water names, a category which more and more parents are finding refreshingly appealing. These include generic bodies of water appellations like Lake and Bay and Brook(e), the names of individual lakes and rivers and, finally, names whose meaning relate to water. Here are the Nameberry Picks for the 12 best water names.

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