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Category: names in the news

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

When anything goes, how do you know if you’re going too far?

Naming a baby in 2014 is mostly about freedom.  Gwyneth’s edibly-named daughter Apple regularly tops the list of craziest celebrity baby names, but we’re calling our own kids Clementine and Olive.  Zuma Rossdale’s first name doesn’t sound like a name … except it does sound something like popular choice Ezra.

The list goes on.  For almost every so-called “crazy” baby name, there’s a case to be made that it fits in with current trends.  But that’s not a guarantee that anything goes.

This past week was filled with foreign imports, misspellings, nicknames that might be too casual, and hero names that might go too far.  Take your favorite name, travel to another country, and it could become unwearable.  Or name your child something that you really want to use, accept that you might spend the first few months explaining your choice, and then laugh when it makes the Top 100 by the time your kiddo starts kindergarten.

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Let’s talk about middle names.

Family names, filler names, fallback names – there are so many approaches to choosing your child’s middle that it can make landing on the perfect first feel almost easy.

Factor in a growing number of children who receive not one, but two middles, and it can become quite the puzzle.

I still regret choosing our son’s second name too quickly, and I remain ridiculously pleased with our daughter’s bonus middle.  (It’s Wren, a nod to my sister’s nickname, Bird.)

There’s nothing wrong with using Elizabeth or JamesPlenty of us have loved ones we wish to honor with a traditional choice.  And a more conventional middle can anchor an out-there given name.

But the opposite is true, too.  Jeremy Renner’s Ava Berlin is far more interesting than say, Ava Grace.

Middles that are meaningful and interesting and maybe downright original have their place, and I’m an unapologetic fan of big, stand-out middles.

This week’s daring middle names in the news are:

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

How far would you go to find a truly stand-out name for your child?

Self-described geek dad Stephen McLaughlin has decided to let the internet name his daughter.  His wife insisted that they retain veto power, so the #1 name doesn’t automatically win.

Good thing, too, because as of Saturday morning, the wisdom of crowds had Cthulhu All-Spark as the top choice.

Other suggestions are very wearable, and a few of the most popular suggestions have ties to scifi that would make the geekiest gamer parents proud: Amelia, Luna, Zelda.

The full list alternates between the silly – Unicorn, Moonpod, Sprinkles, Fluttershy, and the truly lovely – Alice, Isla, Aria, Iris, Adelaide, India, Caroline, Claire, Elsa.  Odds are that baby McLaughlin will end up with quite the wearable name when she arrives in April.

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By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

What’s the 2014 equivalent of the old phrase “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry?”

Every Aiden, Mason, and Jake?

Every Max, Zac, and Jackson?

The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years.  In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas.  Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant.  Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.

As for the girls?  That’s a different picture.  Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell.  Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace.  None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.

And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before.  Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline.  We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.

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abbydior2

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

We’re just days into the new year, and there’s so much to anticipate.

What will Zara Phillips Tindall, the least conventionally named of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren, name her first child?  When the 2013 data is released, will Jacob still be the most common name for boys born in the US, or will Mason unseat him?  Which fictional character names will take us by surprise?

But this week, I’m thinking about a very specific question: of all the unconventional word name possibilities, which will go from sounding wacky and way out there to mainstream in 2014?

Kids called Willow, River, Scarlett, Genesis, Serenity, and Cash are nothing new, but not so long ago those all sounded as outlandish as Apple or Bear.

Earlier this week The Tennessean reported that the majority of Americans are completely fine with kids called Messiah.  That’s pretty tolerant – if we can handle Messiah, surely Pilot is no big deal.

And yet, I wonder about the power of noun names to influence our choices.  Nancy recently shared a quote on nominative determinism – an elaborate way of saying that your name determines your future.

Will calling your child Forest make him outdoorsy?  Will Aria love to sing?  Can Cash expect to hit it big on Wall Street – or maybe Vegas?  Is Valor brave and Honor honorable?

Plenty of parents must be hoping this is true.  Or at least they’re untroubled by the possibility.  Because we’ve been borrowing from the dictionary with abandon as 2013 slipped into 2014.

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