Maybe there are certain kinds of names that you really like–flower or color names, say, or virtue names– but you’re reluctant to use one of the more obvious examples, the epidemically popular ones, attractive though they may be. Well, there’s no reason you have to limit yourself to those few; more and more parents are digging deeper into those appealing categories and coming up with newer sounding choices.
IRIS (not exotic, but long neglected)
Which baby name trends do we see coming in for 2009 and which do we see heading out? Here, our predictions for the year ahead.
BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: DEPRESSION ERA NAMES
The hit TV show Mad Men, set in the early 60s, reintroduced names that were all the rage when the characters were born in the 1930s: Don , Betty, Joan, Peggy. They’re plain names fit for hard times, and we predict the hardscrabble months ahead will inspire more babies with these names: Dorothy, Helen, Ruth, and Frances for girls; Thomas, Edward, Frank, Raymond, and even Harold for boys. Plus the stylish new occupational names–Gardener, Ranger, Miller–are likely to gain in appeal for both boys and girls as actual jobs become more scarce.
MOST SURPRISING COMEBACK NAME
Leon, middle name choice for Brangelina twin Knox, had become a joke in the U.S. but was on the rise in Europe, where all lion-related names–Leo, Leonora, Lionel–are tres chic. Leon and Leonie are the number one names in Germany and for the first time in decades, have style potential here.
BEST NEW TREND INSPIRED BY A CELEBRITY BABY NAME
Jessica Alba’s infant Honor has ushered in a new appreciation for virtue names, on the rise through the name ranks–and hopefully also in spirit–with Faith, Hope, Patience, Mercy, Justice, True, and Pax.
HOTTEST GENDER-BENDING TREND
Boys names that end in a vowel sound and girls’ names that end in a consonant. Examples: Ezra, Eli, Milo, Noah, Hugo for boys, and for girls, Annabel instead of Annabella, for instance, or Eden instead of Emma.
TRENDIEST TREND-RELATED TREND
Names that are considered too trendy by stylish parents by virtue of their association with other, trendier names or with high-visibility celebrities. Examples: Ada, fresh yet too close to the megapopular Ava. Pearl, too much like groovy Ruby. Roman, son of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing. And Matilda, toddler of Michelle Wiliams and Heath Ledger.
GIRL TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK
BOY TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK
COOLEST MIDDLE NAME TREND
Names that carry powerful meaning, launched when people adopted the middle name Hussein in solidarity with Obama. Less name than symbol, the new middle name may carry political meaning, convey ethnic background, stand in for a place, animal, character, or thing that has meaning for the parents.
NEW “IT” VOWEL
MOST FASHIONABLE CONSONANT
NAME TREND THAT’S BEST FOR THE EARTH
MOST SURPRISING CELEBRITY NAME INSPIRATION
Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post was the media star of the 2008 election, is an attractive and influential person but hardly the kind of tabloid hottie who usually inspires thousands of baby namesakes. But joining Ashton and Angelina, the name Arianna has ascended with Huffington’s renown, reaching number 70 in the last year counted and certain to zoom much higher.
TREND WE’D MOST LIKE TO SEE DIE
First for the good news. Here are the starbaby names which we consider to have found the right combination of originality, charm and substance this year:
Full name Clementine Jane Hawke projects the image of a sweet but strong, prim but pretty heroine of a Victorian novel, and brings to mind the song lyric ‘Oh my darlin’ (never mind that her shoes were #9). It was previously the starbaby selection of Cybill Shepherd and Claudia Schiffer.
We applaud this choice that moves beyond the more common Puritan Virtue names like Grace, Hope, and Faith to one that projects an even more righteous image, but has rarely been heard in this country. An honorable decision.
The award for best twin names of the year goes to the always inventive but never quite over-the-top serial baby namers, the Jolie-Pitts. Knox continued their tradition of boys’ names ending in ‘X’ (as in Maddox and Pax), and also has family connections to Brad‘s grandfather, as does Vivienne‘s middle name, Marcheline, that of Angelina‘s mother. Runner-up twin names: Coldplay drummer Will Champion’s lively Juno & Rex.
In the name garden overgrown with Roses and Lillies, Violets and Daisies, it seems fitting that the granddaughter of the late iconoclastic comedian Richard Pryor would have a more exotic flower name. With its languorous feel, the lotus holds intriguing significance in several cultures.
An unusual but sunny day-of-the-week name, inspired by an Australian artist’s patron named Sunday Reed, it’s in tune with other current calendar names like January, May, June and August, as well as the seasonal Winter and Summer. Some people did think it strange that Sunday was born on a Monday.
And now for what we judge to be this year’s losers:
Poor little Bronx got nothing but Bronx cheers when his name was released, especially as paired with the name of the Disneyfied Jungle Book boy. If his parents thought this New York borough name would catch on the way Brooklyn has, they’re in for a big disappointment.
Is he a bulldog? Is he a prizefighter? No, he’s a baby, whose rambunctuous name will not do much to encourage his sensitive side. An example of the alarming trend towards giving doggy names (Lucky, Princess) to babies.
It could just as well be Cadence Klover, within the paradigm of using the initial letters C and K interchangeably, leading to regrettable innovations like Kasey, Kassidy, Karolyn and Kaleb. Fortunately, the trend seems to be waning.
Taking Max–which already means “the greatest”–to the max. INXS, we’d say.
The General Hospital star explained that this had been the nickname they used “when he was in mommy.” OK, good luck explaining that to him when he’s six feet tall and applying to Princeton.
We’d love to hear your nominations for the best and worst celebrity choices of the year, and won’t be surprised if you have very different opinions. Let’s hear from you lovers of Harlow and defenders of Kadence!