Category: conservative baby names

The Reddest and Bluest Baby Names

popular baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

If you name your baby something traditional like Maya or Maximilian, you’re probably a Democrat, while a new-fangled choice such as Brylee or Braylen might peg you as a Republican.

Blue State parents may be more apt to vote liberal than their Red State counterparts, but their taste in baby names is far more conservative.

We analyzed which of the Top 500 names were used most often last year in Red States vs. Blue. Our findings: Red State baby names tend to defy convention in spelling, gender identity, and the very definition of a first name, while the Bluest Names toe the traditional line.

Every single one of the Top 25 Reddest Names for both genders lies outside the traditional lexicon of proper names. Red State favorites include first names adapted from surnames such as Number 1 Reddest Names Blakely for girls and Kason for boys, word names such as Haven for girls and Kash for boys, and diminutives such as Millie and Hattie used as full names. .

Parents in Blue States, on the other hand, choose relatively conventional first names for their babies. All of the Top 25 Bluest Names for girls are traditional female choices, ranging from Number 1 Francesca to Alexandra to Miriam. In the boys’ Top 25, the only name that diverges from the usual lexicon of first names is surname-name Finnegan.

The first traditional girls’ name in the Red State tally, by contrast, is Mary, all the way down at Number 51, with the first traditional boys’ name ranking even lower: Abram at Number 76.

Other markers of traditional naming in the list of Blue State favorites include girls’ names that are feminizations of male names, such as Gianna and Daniella, and Biblical and/or royal boys’ names, such as Leo, Nicholas, and Peter.

Red State parents are also much more likely to invent new spellings for baby names, with popular girls’ names including Kyleigh and Journee and four different spellings of Kason dominating the boys’ list. And the Reddest Names tend to push gender boundaries, with McKinley ranking in the Top 10 for girls and Lane in the Top 20 for boys.

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If you were to go solely by the tabloids, you might think that every celebrity’s baby boy was given the name of a New York borough or a Disney character or was his parents’ quirky Scrabble-letter invention.

Au contraire.

There is a very  healthy segment of show biz parents who are creating a major backlash to this trend–either that or they just like conservative, classic names.  Instead of screaming ‘Hey-look-at-me!’ (and my mama), these names  provide a sort of protective coating against that kind of often mocking attention, a layer of dignity and tradition.

Evidence?  Here, just looking at boys born since the Millenium, are some of the timeless classics, in their complete, traditional forms, that have been recent celebrity choices–not that they always succeeded in making their bearers paparazzi-proof.  (And, by the way, I’d be  interested to know if you think the preference for this kind of name relates to the celeb’s own personal or public image.)

ALEXANDERNaomi Watts & Liev Schreiber, Lauren Holly, Wolfgang Puck

CHARLESRussell Crowe, Chris O’Donnell, Cynthia Nixon, Emily Robison

CHRISTIANMarc Anthony, Pete Sampras


DAVID — Mo’Nique, J. K. Rowling

FRANKDiana Krall & Elvis Costello

FREDERICK — Mayim Bialik

GEORGEKristin Scott-Thomas, Eva Herzigova

HARRYDavid Letterman

HENRYHeidi Klum & Seal, Julia Roberts, Emily Robison, Rachel Weisz, Jack White & Karen Elson, Minnie Driver, Norah O’Donnell, Steve Zahn

JACKMatt Lauer, Joan London

JAMESSarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick, Isaac Hanson, Colin Farrell, Kirk Cameron & Chelsea Noble

JOHNBono, Vanessa Paradis & Johnny Depp, Bridget Moynahan & Tom Brady, Julie Bowen, Nancy Grace, Lauryn Hill & Rohan Marley

JOSEPHTracy Lords, Cathy Moriarity

SAMUELNaomi Watts & Liev Schreiber, Jack Black, Elizabeth Vargas

THOMASJack Black, Dennis Quaid

WILLIAMKimberly Williams & Brad Paisley, Mary Louise Parker & Billy Cruddup, Clay Walker

In addition–though it’s not quite the same thing–there are the nickname versions, like Kate Winslet’s Joe and Charlie Sheen’s Bob, and the not-so-timeless semi-classics like Rainn Wilson’s Walter. And of course, there are the female equivalents–Amanda Peet’s Frances, Kelly Martin’s Margaret–but that’s for another time.

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