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:
When the latest starbaby was announced the other day, Michele Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller‘s boy Buster, I wasn’t as surprised as I would have been a few years ago. Already on our celebrity kids’ roster, after all, are Buck and Lucky and Marmaduke and Duke and King and Prince and Princess and Count and Countess, names once reserved for other species. On the other hand, few of these names appear on pooch popularity lists.
And neither do Fido or Rover or Spot or Lassie, the old traditional canine favorites, which have been replaced by top-listed Maggie and Molly and Max and Jake. Is there some kind of switch going on, or is this just a way of affirming to our pets that they are indeed full-fledged members of the family, so that in addition to getting spiffy wardrobes, health insurance, doggy day care and spas and shrinks, they get a real kid’s name too? For the first time ever, 50% of all pet names come from the human name pool, and a recent survey showed that 74% of participants viewed their dogs and cats as family members rather than merely family pets.
Celebrities have jumped into this people’s-names-for-pets phenomenon with particular enthusiasm. For example,the following have or have had dogs named Bob and Stan (David Letterman), Flossie (Drew Barrymore), Milo (Diane Lane), Martha Stewart (Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck), Lloyd (Courtney Love), and Chloe (both Lindsay Lohan and Lauren Conrad). Hey, wait a minute–Chloe is my daughter’s name!
Here are some of the most popular human names for dogs, Max being the overall favorite: