Category: names in the news
Names like Katniss and Rainbow grab headlines. Will anyone really name their daughter after the Hunger Games heroine? Will Holly Madison’s little girl grow up loving her colorful name, or will she legally change it to Rachel when she turns eighteen?
This week’s baby name news was all about sweet spot names. They can’t be dismissed as trendy. The names would have been familiar one hundred years ago. Odds are strong that they’ll still be in use in another century or two.
And even though they feature in high profile birth announcements or pop culture references, there’s no reason these names wouldn’t wear perfectly well on a child.
This week’s baby names in the news are:
It happens all the time.
You’re expecting your first – or second, or third – and the perfect name eludes you. There are lots of possibilities and maybes, but none of them are The Name.
And then along comes a movie, a television show, a celebrity, a song, and that’s it. That’s the name.
The numbers tell us that pop culture is a major influence in baby naming. And yet we resist the idea. A name from a Jane Austen novel? Classic, sophisticated. From a soap opera or a Disney Channel series? Sometimes we’re a little dismissive of those choices.
But here’s the thing about names: we can’t consider them until we are aware that they exist.
This week’s names all come from movies and television, books and blogs. You may have heard them before, but seeing them on the screen could make the names feel fresh, interesting, and just right for a daughter.
It’s been a quiet week for high profile arrivals. Sure, Michael Weatherly of NCIS fame and wife Bojana welcomed son Liam. It’s a great name – friendly, upbeat, accessible. Liam is also a solid favorite in the US, just like big sister’s name, Olivia. Last year, he was the #1 choice in at least nine states, and shows no signs of slowing down.
But name news isn’t just about celebrities. In order for parents to consider a name, they have to know that it exists. Books, television, movies, athletes, actors, song lyrics, people in the headlines – they can all add new options to an expectant parent’s shortlist.
Baby name books have always surfaced some unusual possibilities. I fell in love with Hephzibah in a paperback name encyclopedia from the 1970s, the same book my mother used to circle mainstream options like Jill and Amy. Hester came from The Scarlet Letter. And Caroline, a name I eventually used as one of my daughter’s middles? She’s from a Psychedelic Furs song, a classic I never noticed until I heard the lyrics.
Now Nameberry, and the vast community of baby name blogs and websites, is part of that process, too. This week was filled with daring, even fanciful names for girls with global influence. Some of these might seem too much for a first name, but I can hear most of them in the middle spot.
Gaiman did say this: “We must not attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meaning and pronunciations to change with time.”
If language is a living thing, doesn’t the same hold true for names?
Some words endure with minimal alteration, and some names do, too. But for every Elizabeth, there’s a Samantha – a name that feels rich with history, but is actually almost unknown until the nineteenth century. Or Brooke, a name that feels established and sophisticated, but would have been out of place a hundred years ago.
What makes a name a true classic?
Very few names have been in constant use, and those few evergreen choices differ across cultures and languages.
A definition is elusive. A classic should be universally recognized and long established. It should possess either a measure of elegance or another distinguishing characteristic. But classic isn’t a black and white line. In baby name discussions, classic sometimes translates as “a name I like.”
Are Adelaide and Charlotte as classic as Mary? How do Walter and Jeremy compare to William and James? How about names like Samantha or Brooke – seldom heard before the twentieth century, but now solidly established? How many years does it take to make a classic, bearing in mind that classic rock is sometimes as young as five decades old.