Category: conservative baby names
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.
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.
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.
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.)
DAVID — Mo’Nique, J. K. Rowling
FREDERICK — Mayim Bialik
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.