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Category: boys’ baby names

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The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

I’ve often said that if our second child were a boy, he would have gone nameless.

Blame it on our preferences.  My husband and I planned to source family names for our children, without thinking about the imbalance.  We have tons of women in our family, with a rich list of interesting names.  The pool of masculine names is much smaller, and repeats, again and again, over the generations.  Naming a second – or third or fourth – son would have required a willingness to reinvent some antiques and reconsider a few imports.

Is Zbigniew wearable in the US?

But let’s say that we were open to finding a great name, not one with family ties necessarily.  Just a name that would serve our child well from infancy into adulthood.

Happily, there’s no shortage of those.

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alaska2

This week for the Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel takes a look at the shifting perceptions of boys’ baby names.

When we named our son Alexander in 2004, it was a no-brainer, a family name that my husband very much wanted to pass down.  Despite my baby name obsession, the choice was made without much thought.

I knew girls could answer to Alex as a tomboyish nickname for Alexandra.  Heck, it was the kind of name I’d craved as a child.  And I was fascinated by the medieval French Alix, the Italian Alessandra, the Russian Sasha.

The possibility of a girl Alex didn’t bother me a bit.

In fact, we proceeded to call our son the even more ambiguous Aly for his first six years on this Earth.

Then came first grade. Aly was a Girl Name, he announced.  From now on, he would be Alex.

The classmate who told him that his nickname was a gender bender?

His name is Delaney.

So what’s happening with boys’ names in 2013?  There’s pressure to choose a name that is clearly masculine, coupled with frustration that so many fresh possibilities for boys could easily be the next big thing for girls.  Parents will drop Elliot if they see it mentioned on a message board as a vague possibility for a girl.  Emerson has been ceded to Team Pink before she even cracks the Top 100 in the US.

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This week in her Nameberry 9 blog, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel offers evidence that boys’ baby names are rapidly catching up with the girls’ in terms of creativity.

A few days ago, my daughter Clio announced that girls’ names are pretty, but boys’ names are awesome.

She also informed me that her awesome name was Kick, and please refer to her as such from now on.

I think my four year old just voiced the desire of many an expectant parent.  Clio – I mean Kick – called it awesome.  I’ve called the same names cowboy cool or surfer style or a dozen other descriptors. 

No matter the name, boys’ names have become bolder and more multi-cultural than they were in generations past.

Recent baby name news has been packed with boys’ names begging to be accessorized with a lacrosse stick, a snowboard, or a bucking bronco and a ten-gallon hat.  Or maybe just a passport and a pint-sized suitcase.

They’re fresh and inventive, and yet they’re definitely masculine at the same time.  Some of the best picks made it into recent baby name news, like:

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popeadrian

Just as the billows of white smoke emanating from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City signal the election of a new pope, so does the name he chooses for himself signal his aspirations for his papacy.  Pope Francis broke precedent by picking one that had never been used before, but which has deep meaning for him and projects a strong symbolic resonance to the outside world.

The new Pope revealed that the inspiration for his chosen name was St. Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni), the venerated patron saint of animals and the environment, known for his humility.  He also stated that in the cardinals’ name discussions some of the papal appellations put forth were Adrian, and Clement, while others were hoping for Leo, who had been a beacon of social justice.

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This week, for her Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel picks the newsiest names on the boys’ side of the gender divide.

Midway through compiling this week’s list, I realized just how many great boys’ names are out there.

This is a subject of some debate.  Creativity in naming a son was long frowned on, and parents tended to fall back on the most familiar choices.  In 1900, more than 6% of all newborns were named John, while just 5.25% answered to Mary.  #2 name, William, was given to almost 5.3% of boys, but the #2 girl name, Helen, represented just under 2% of new births.  The names change, but the pattern holds.  In 1965, 4.3% of boys were Michael, and 3.3% of girls answered to Lisa.  Generally speaking, more boys receive the most popular names.

Reasons are plentiful, and even the most daring namer of daughters may very well veer towards the classics for a son, leading to sibsets like James, Henry, and Persephone.  But could this be the generation to challenge that pattern?

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