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Category: names in the news

long or short names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

For every Seraphina, there’s a Jax.

A glance at the US Top 100 lists from 1963 and 2013 suggests that the most popular names have gotten longer over the last fifty years.  Back in 1963, the only Top 100 name longer than three syllables was Elizabeth.

Today there are nine: Elizabeth is joined by Alexandra, Olivia, Gabriella, Isabella, Serenity, and Penelope for girls, plus Alexander and Jeremiah for boys.

There are more three-syllable names, and fewer single-syllable ones, too.

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Rolling-Stones

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Mick Jagger is a great-grandfather.

The frontman of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band welcomed a new grandson and his first great-granddaughter a few months ago.  Their names were just revealed last week.  If you’re counting, that brings the Jagger progeny to seven children, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild … all with rather interesting given names.

It wasn’t just the Jaggers sharing names at long last.  Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson filed a birth certificate for baby #4, just before her first birthday.  If you’re looking for vintage gems, the Rudolph-Andersons’ quartet is a great starting point.

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abby--double

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Good things came in twos this week, as the baby name news was dominated by interesting sets of twins, and two new ends-with-R names for boys.

Let’s start with the letter R.

This past spring, the mainstream media picked up on a phenomenon we name nerds have long recognized: two-syllable, ends-with-N names for boys are big.  Whether we’re talking chart toppers like Aiden and Mason, or new inventions like Zennon and Dreyson, N has been the go-to letter for ending boys’ names in recent years.

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Brother and Sister Names in the News

abby--sib--6-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

If naming your first child is a challenge, naming baby number two – and maybe three and four – can start to feel like a puzzle.  Should you repeat first initials?  Should everyone share the same first initial?  If your son’s name is a Top 20 standard, is it okay to give your daughter a name that’s never cracked the Top 1000?  How about honor names?  If your daughter is named after your grandmother, will his grandmother expect to be next?

There’s no right answer, but there is a right choice for every family.  This week, sibsets were in the baby name news – and on my mind.

Blame it on a trip to the zoo.  We’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Bao Bao, also known as Washington DC, home to the Smithsonian National Zoo.  As we crowded into the panda habitat the other morning, parents called their kids’ names.  Mostly Sophia, with Noah, Aiden, and Hayden tossed in for good measure.

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abby--infantas

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Here’s something I overheard recently:

Olivia’s a nice name, but Aria?  Who names a kid after Game of Thrones?

There’s something to that statement, isn’t there?  Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade.  Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference.  They’re very different names.

Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar.  Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too.  After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.

Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.

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