Category: grandma names
There’s a new generation of mom names, not the midcentury Kathys and Sues that are fast becoming grandma names, but the names of young moms today, born for the most part in the 70s and 80s, their names acquiring a more grownup image as they’ve grown up themselves.
This blog was inspired by the discussion of mom names over on the forums. On that board, berries are discussing their own moms’ names plus the names of moms they know who have young children.
Of course, not every name of a twenty-or-thirty-something mother qualifies as a mom name. What does?
It takes at least four generations for names to sound appealing again for babies. The names of today’s moms and dads – names popular from the late sixties through the eighties – are for the most part too familiar to foist upon an innocent newborn. You’ll find a lot of young parents but not many stylish babies with the following 1970s-style names:
Boys are a little more complicated, as styles don’t change as fast and more boys are named after their dads. Still, these are found far less frequently now than in the 1970s.
It’s not until you go back four generations, to names popular around the 1920s, that you start to find some appeal. Names from that decade that are beginning to find a new audience among modern baby namers, for stylish newborns, are:
Sam, Max and Jake were once seen as cigar-chomping movie moguls who had retired to Miami Beach to become pinochle-playing Grandpas. But they’ve all gone on to be popular baby names, both in their nickname and long forms, with Jacob topping the list since 1999.
Samuel, Jacob and cousin Benjamin are all, of course, Old Testament names, used in this country since Colonial times–think Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Max is a different breed entirely. A short form of the Latin Maximus‘s derivative Maximilian and the later Maxwell, Max was well used at the turn of the last century, took a dip in the 60s and 70s, now placed in the mid-to-high 100s on the Social Security list (even higher on the pet name list, where it’s sometimes ranked at number one for dogs).
Lately Max has become a starbaby hottie, with first Christina Aguilera and then Jennifer Lopez choosing it for their baby boys. Also following in its slipstream are a number of Maxwells (Atomic Kitten Kerry Katonah), Maxims (as in the men’s mag), Maximillians (the full name of the Lopez-Anthony twin), Maxfields (Ugly Betty‘s Eric Mabius) and Maximuses (Maximi?) –the latter no doubt inspired by Russell Crowe’s striking character in the 2000 Gladiator movie. Maybe it has something to do with the maximal connotations of these names–after all, in Latin, Maximus does mean greatest. To make things even more interesting, one celebrity came up with the idea of maximizing Max–skater Scott Hamilton named his son MAXX. (He’d make a good playmate for Kimberly Roberts‘ little SKYY.
And what were the wives of Jake and Max doing while there husbands were schmoozing and smoking? Sadie (originally a pet name for Sarah) and Sophie (the French variant of Sophia) were at another table playing canasta or mah jongg. Their names have taken a similar leap up the popularity list, both being higher than they’ve ever been before, and showing every sign of continuing to climb.
Here are some other former coffee-klatch names that could be or already have been rejuvenated:
Family names are a hot topic among baby-namers these days, with many parents looking through their family trees in search of names that carry family meaning.
For some people, the family itself is what’s most important, with the aim to choose the name of a family member they love and admire. If Great-Grandpa Floyd was a war hero or Grandma Enid a beloved and influential caregiver, then Floyd or Enid is the name they use for their child, fashion and even taste aside.
But there are other baby-namers who view the family name issue a bit more broadly. Sure, Great-Grandpa Floyd was an admirable guy, but Great-Uncle Isaiah did some pretty cool things too — and we like the name Isaiah a lot better than Floyd. Or we do want to name the baby after dear Grandma Enid, but we’re just going to use the initial and call her Eliza, or we’re going to use Enid as a middle name, or we’ll revive Grandma’s maiden name Morgan and put it in first place.
Then there are those parents who like the idea of using a name with family significance, but don’t particularly care which family member it was originally attached to. They’ll comb through the family tree in search of appealing choices that can be dusted off and restored to prominence, never mind that they never actually knew Great-Aunt Louisa or that Uncle Theo was a scoundrel. He was a scoundrel with a great name.
Of course, some parents don’t put much stock in using family names, or downright don’t want to use them — maybe because they were the one who got stuck being named after Grandma Enid.
What’s your feeling about family names? Vote in the first nameberry poll (yay! we finally figured out how to work it!) and let us know — and tell us more about how you used or didn’t use a family name for YOUR baby and what you think about the issue of family names in general.