We’ve been scrutinizing your responses to our recent survey, in particular the question that asked what you’d like to see more of on nameberry, with an eye to accommodating your suggestions. Quite a few responders put in requests for more ethnic names— with pronunciations—and a couple took note of our blog on birth announcements in the London Times, interested in seeing similar subjects, which Pam will be updating soon.
So, since we aim to please, this time we are taking a look at announcements in the Irish Times over the past few months–the ethnic and not-so-ethnic names found there–with pronunciations when needed.
The current batch of newborn names in Ireland shows a typical mix of Anglo-Saxon classics (especially for boys), modern Irish standards , and the old Gaelic names that have been revived and become fashionable in recent years, as well as some internationally trendy choices. Below are some of the more interesting, with pronunciations where useful–bearing in mind that they change from region to region (and reference book to reference book).
Among the currently most popular girls’ names are Emily, Lucy, Isabel (and Isabelle, Isabella and Isobel), and Grace, with several appearances of Hazel and Sophia/Sofia , Rose and Ruby. Leading middle names in this sampling appear to be Elizabeth, Grace, Rose, Louise, May and Maeve.
Here, some of the more unusual choices–including some interesting combos:
Ava is one of the biggest recent baby name success stories, jumping from almost the bottom of the Top 1000 twenty years ago to #4 last year–and it could be heading for #1. I’m certainly hearing it everywhere I go, in the street and in the supermarket, and seeing it on popularity lists worldwide. This brings to mind two questions: A) What can you substitute if you like Ava but don’t want such a trendy name? and B) Is Ava the name that will knock Emily out of top place or will it be one of the other leading contenders?
Here are a few ideas if you’re looking for an answer to A:
AVALON. Deriving from the Celtic word for apple, this is a very romantic place name–it was an island paradise in Celtic and Arthurian legend where it was a beautiful island renowned for its luscious apples, the place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged. In the present day, it’s the main city on the California island of Catalina.
Starbaby namesake? Daughter of 24 and Heroes actress Rena Sofer.
AVERY. If you’re looking for an alternative with a unisex-surname spin, this is it. The only problem is that Avery is pursuing Ava up the popularity list–and also, if you care about literal meanings, ‘Elf ruler’ doesn’t have much revelance in the modern world.
Starbaby namesake? Daughter of Angie Harmon & Jason Sehorn. NEWS FLASH: Amy Locane just had a daughter she named Avery Hope.
AVIS. A vintage birdlike name which, like cousin Mavis, was once more popular in England; here the dated ‘s’ ending (as in Doris and Phyllis) and the rental-car connection lessened its chances. But now it’s old-time, funky feel gives it some degree of nostalgic charm.
Starbaby namesake? Daughter of Baldwin brother Daniel.
EVA. Several glamorous Evas–Longoria, Mendes, Green–have given Eva a popularity boost. But bear in mind that in several cultures Eva is pronounced Ava, so though it may not look as trendy, the sound’s the same.
Starbaby namesake? Dixie Chick Martie Maguire’s twin daughter.
ADA. Sounding as fusty as Ava did ten years ago, Ada is in line for a possible piggyback revival. Trivia tidbit: Ava Lovelace, daughter of the poet Byron, is considered to have been the very first “computer programmer,” 19th century style.
Starbaby namesake? Not yet.
One of the downsides–admittedly a fairly minor one–to living in such a heavily populated country as the U.S. is that it takes the Social Security Administration five months to tally up the year’s baby name stats, while some states and other countries put out their results even before the New Year’s Eve ball drops on Times Square.
The full UK report will be arriving any day now, but in the interim, there’s a survey of 380,000 babies born in Britain in 2008 that can give us some strong clues. For girls, the Top 5 names are Olivia, Ruby, Grace, Emily, and Jessica, with a noteworthy number of nickname names further down–Evie, Katie, Ellie, Millie, Gracie, Rosie, Abbie and Tilly. Names hot over there that haven’t taken off to the same degree here: Freya, Poppy, Imogen, Niamh and Maisie. And those rising fastest? Isla, Summer and Ava.
For British boys, Jack is #1, as it has been for 14 years, followed by Oliver, Harry, Alfie and Charlie. Royal names–such as George, William and James–continue to rule, and nickname names, in addition to Alfie and Charlie, are popular with this gender too, as in Archie, Jamie, Freddie, Joe and Billy. The boys’ names heard more there than here: Lewis, Harvey and Kian. Theo was the fastest climber of the boys.
Scotland has released its official list, with Sophie, Emily, Olivia, Chloe and Emma, and Jack, Lewis, Daniel, Liam and James in the lead. Some traditional Scottish favorites continued to hold their own, including Isla, Logan, Cameron, Gregor, Kyle, Finlay , Ewan and Angus. To go somewhat farther afield, in New South Wales, the most populous part of Australia, the Top 5 for girls were Mia, Chloe, Isabella, Emily and Olivia; for boys it was Jack (fifth year in a row), William, Lachlan, Joshua and Cooper, while the starbaby influence was felt in the presence of names like Shiloh, Suri, Sunday, Honour (as it’s spelled there), and even Bronx. In Japan, the top girls’ names were Aoi, Yui and Rin; for boys Hiroto, Ren and Yuto.
One US state that has weighed in early is Arizona, where the top names were Anthony and Isabella. Several Hispanic names appeared on the boys’ list: Angel at #2, and Jose, Jesus and Luis in the Top 20. The registrar of Oakland County, Michigan, which includes several Detroit suburbs, is obviously a name buff. Among the groupings she noted in her area: Harmony and Melody; Hope, Faith, Charity and Unity; London, Paris, Phoenix, Aspen, Georgia, Austin, Savannah and Brooklyn; Zinnia, Rose, Lily, Ivy and Violet, and a contingent of ancients: Julius, Marcus, Cassius, Leonidas, Athena and Adonis.
We’ll keep you posted as more results come in.
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
For twelve years now, since 1996, the most popular name for girl babies has been Emily. But it looks like Emily’s reign as the top girls’ name may be coming to an end–something we won’t know until the next Social Security list comes out in May. In all fairness, Madison or Emma deserves to take the top spot–they’ve been hovering around it for so long, but there are five other newer names that are hot enough to threaten Queen Emily’s supremacy.
What’s interesting about four of the five current contenders , Addison being the exception, is that they’re trendy without the sound or feel of trendiness typical of some of the high-rated names of a few years ago–Tiffany, Brittany/Britney, Ashley–that flashed onto the scene, became red hot, and then faded. The difference with the present group is that they have deep roots, both historic and literary, and though they are clearly feminine, they also have strength and substance.
ADDISON is the name that’s had the most rapid rise, being the logical rhyming successor to the long-running Madison, and the first name in a while to have sprung from a TV show–Grey‘s Anatomy/Private Practice. Currently at #11, it would be a long shot for first place, though it did reach that spot in two states
AVA is a name imbued with old Hollywood glamour via Golden Age star Ava Gardner and has taken off like a rocket, largely because of its use by a dozen or so current movie stars, starting with Reese Witherspoon. It already headed the lists of nine states last year, and was #5 on the national list.
OLIVIA is a Latinate name popularized by Shakespeare for a leading character in Twelfth Night and has continued to be used in literature all the way up to the contemporary kids’ book porcine character Olivia. # 7 last year, it was also #1 in three states
ISABELLA was of course the Spanish queen who backed Cristoforo Columbo’s voyages, as well as being the name of a British royal, a character in Shakespeare‘s Measure for Measure, in Jane Austen and in Wuthering Heights. Last year, it was #3 nationally, top name in nine states.
SOPHIA has been a favorite of British novelists, starting with the heroine of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and shares reflected cinematic stardust with Ava, this time via the sultry Sophia Loren. Three states had this name at #1 last year, it was #6 nationwide.
So these are the candidates. Place your bets.