Category: names in the news
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.
By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
Here’s something I overheard recently:
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.
When it comes to naming a daughter, imagination reigns. From Hollywood birth announcements to literary powerhouses, blog babies to the most random of name spottings, a great name can come from anywhere.
This week’s potential seismic name influence? Disney’s big screen retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This time, we’re getting the villain’s side of the story in Maleficent. Angelina Jolie might make the two-horned headdress look elegant, but I doubt she can sell her character’s name to future parents. Maleficent is too downright evil! But plenty of other choices associated with the big summer film could get a boost.
On a sad note, this was also the week the world said farewell to the towering Maya Angelou. If Francis has gained currency as a hero name, could the widely admired writer’s names – first and last – be next?
Together, they point towards some of the most interesting sources for naming daughters in our age: myth, fable, and literature, much of it ancient and well-worn, but some of it modern, even newly invented.
Some weeks, the baby names in the news are aggressively modern. Rocket and Rebel, Ryder and Stryker. Girls can be James. While boys can’t be Sue, there’s no guessing if Kayden, Peyton, and Riley are boys or girls.
Factor in names borrowed from nature, colors, virtues, meanings, and the map, and it can feel like every parent-to-be is considering names that would be right at home in The Hunger Games. Welcome to the world, Ocean, Indigo, and Haven. May the odds be ever in your favor.
All of that novelty can make classic, even conservative names seem refreshing.
Little ladies and gentlemen dominated this week’s headlines. They’re names with history and roots, vintage revivals that are back in 2014, or will be back by 2024. Or 2054. And they’ll always come back – eventually – because they’re just that enduring.
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.