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Category: Mad Men

Calendar Baby Names

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January Jones, the attractive star of the hot TV show Mad Men has focused a lot of attention on her (real) name, but what’s the prognosis for the other calendar baby names?

JANUARY, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and ends,  has a real history as a name, dating back to the Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales  character in The Merchant’s Tale, a wealthy, elderly knight.  Flash forward to the 1970s for a complete image transformation via the Jacqueline Susann soap-operaish novel Once is Not Enough‘s heroine, “the luscious January Wayne.”  (The South Dakota-bred January Jones told Town & Country magazine that she was named for the Susann character.) Put it all together, and you have the sexiest month name, and one that has the best chance of catching on.

FEBRUARY.  The shortest month of the year has the least potential as a baby name, mostly because of its awkward pronunciation.  You could consider its birthstone, Amethyst, instead.

MARCH, named after Mars, the Roman god of war, is the most masculine of the group, and is beginning to be used for boys, particularly as a strong, brisk middle name.  It’s also a surname name, exemplified by the beloved March family in Little Women.

APRIL, from the Latin word meaning to open, as in the opening buds of spring, has been in name-style limbo for a a couple of decades, but might be due for an early comeback.  Its prominent role in Revolutionary Road, portrayed by Kate Winslet, could breathe new life into it.  It also has appealing musical references via songs like I’ll Remember April and April in Paris.  Singer Avril Lavigne has drawn attention to the French version.

MAY, which started as a pet form of both Mary and Margaret, was wildly popular at the turn of the 20th century, in both real life and fiction–writers like Henry James and Edith Wharton used it for their pure and innocent heroines.  The Mae spelling, as in Mae West, was much saucier.  Some modern parents have begun to use May as a sweet, old-fashioned middle name, but others–including actress Madeline Stowe,–have recognized its potential as a first.

JUNE was the midcentury goody-goody girl, exemplified by June Allyson in movies and quintessential TV Mom June (Leave it to Beaver) Cleaver.  Some parents might prefer the livelier Juno, but June–recently picked by actor/oil heir Balthazar Getty for his daughter–has the no-nonsense solidity many parents are seeking in these difficult times. A hipster favorite middle name.

JULY, named for Juilius Caesar, has been used infrequently, and then usually as a male name–there was a character named July Anderson in Lonesome Dove.  But it could conceivably be an offbeat namesake for an Aunt Julie or an Uncle Julius.

AUGUST, like the word with the accent on the second syllable, has a somewhat serious image,  associated with two heavyweight playwrights–Strindberg and Wilson.  It has some celebrity cred, having been chosen by Mariska Hargitay, Lena Olin and Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Garth Brooks turned August into a female option when he used it for his daughter.

SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER all have limited potential, the Latin Septimus and Octavius having more history as names.  On the other hand, hip writer Dave Eggers did name his daughter October….

TRIVIA TIDBIT: The novel and movie The Secret Life of Bees had characters named April, May, June and August.

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Baby Names: Hottest Trends for 2009

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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.

ETHNIC NAMES GROUPS MOST LIKELY TO RISE

Hawaiian and Russian, thanks to First Daughters Malia and Sasha, short for Natasha, Obama.

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 AvaPearl, too much like groovy RubyRoman, son of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing.  And Matilda, toddler of Michelle Wiliams and Heath Ledger.

GIRL TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that end in –ella, from Isabella to Gabriella to Bella and even Ella herself.  The long trend for that extra-syllable a ending is about to end.

BOY TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that rhyme with -aden: Braden, Caden, Jaden, Xaden, you’ve had your moment in the sun.

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

I, with the rise of such iNames as Isaiah, Iris, Isaac, and Isla.

MOST FASHIONABLE CONSONANT

V, vivifying names wherever it falls: Olive, Vivienne, Eva, Victor, Avery, Violet, Evan, Nevaeh.

NAME TREND THAT’S BEST FOR THE EARTH

Green Names, which include the recycling of grandma and grandpa names like Mabel and Max, and also nature names drawn from the water (Bay, Lake), trees (Birch, Oak), and flowers (Violet, Poppy).

TREND MOST LIKELY TO CROSS THE OCEAN

The hot British baby-naming trend of using nicknames from Millie to Alfie to Dixie and Dot is coming our way, as a light-hearted antidote to tough times.

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

Scary, violent names like Talon, Cannon, Gunner.

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