Category: baby names of 2008
Latin culture is influencing everything in the United States, including baby names. With the growing prominence of Latin stars and parents of all ethnic backgrounds more interested in using culturally significant names, Hispanic choices are moving up the popularity lists.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Jessica Alba and Ricky Martin may be among the most famous Latin celebrities, but their names were inspired by the general culture and are hardly inspiring modern baby namers in search of an authentic Latin choice. The Latin celebrities (and a few fictional characters) from the worlds of film, music, sports, and fashion whose names have proven influential in the U.S. include:
OSCAR de la RENTA
Several names that rank high on the popularity list in the U.S. have a Latin flavor and are well-used by Hispanic parents along with parents of many other ethnic backgrounds. Isabella, Olivia, Sophia, Angelina, and, for boys, Gabriel fit into this group. Names (and variations) with a more distinctly Latin heritage that are climbing the popularity list in the United States – and are definitely not for Latin babies only — include::
For a long time, as girls marched in masculine naming territory, appropriating such boys’ names as Blair and Blake, Avery and Riley, Peyton and Parker, the boys retreated to firmly male turf, reviving such classics as William and Henry, forging into new macho terrain with names like Hunter and Stone.
It was okay, the thinking went with names as with clothing, toys, and career aspirations, for girls to adopt masculine attributes, but not for boys to take up girlish things.
Now, though, something surprising has happened. Boys’ names are getting decidedly softer, with traditional choices that include sibilant sounds and vowel endings gaining in popularity, and parents reclaiming unisex names for their sons.
When we talk about vintage names, we’re usually harking back to the Gay ’90s or the Roaring ’20s at the latest. But what about more recent vintage vintages? Are there any names that were popular just a couple of decades ago that are already ready for revival?–or are they all still too me, mom, or grandpa-ish?
The leading five girls’ names across the decade 0f the 70s were Jennifer, Amy, Melissa, Michelle and Kimberly, and among the boys’ Top 20–mostly dominated by classics–were Jason, Brian, Kevin, Jeffrey and Scott. I’m not suggesting that we’re quite ready for another generation of little Lisas (#6), any more than I’d suggest hanging a disco ball in your living room, but there are some buried possibilities further down in the mix that just might be getting ripe enough to pick again.
The names below were all in the top half of the popularity list throughout the Swinging 70s, and have either slid off the current list entirely or are very near the the bottom of the Top 1000. Most of them don’t particularly scream 70′s–some are semi-classics that were fading away at that time, a few are the kind of nickname names that are coming back into style.
Parents in search of names emblematic of a new masculine image for their sons are also looking toward ethnic choices unknown in the U.S. just a few years ago.
And then there’s simply our widening global sensibility, taking in more and more images and cultural cues from around the world. When it comes to boys’ names, these names may symbolize a more enlightened masculine image, or at least a fresh one. Whether the name is Irish or Latino, African or French, we may see that exotic guy as being more stylish and more sophisticated and definitely more worldly than our regular old Bills and Jims.
Here, a selection of new ethnic choices for boys on the U.S. popularity list. And don’t forget to take our poll on the new masculine names at the end of the column!
Okay, okay, I know there are people with the surnames Drake and Deacon, Gunner and Ryder, but I don’t think that’s why those names are popular. It’s more that they aren’t conventional first names that’s important, I think, than that they fit any other kind of mold.
In terms of names that convey the new masculine image, the huge surnameish trend is interesting because it makes boys’ names in some ways more formal and traditional than they were before. What sounds more imposing, after all: Jefferson or Jeff? Jacoby or plain old Jake?
It may be the move away from family names – when’s the last time someone you know named their baby a junior? – as well as from religious and ethnic strictures is what makes these new names for boys so appealing to parents. Names like Fletcher and Hayden convey the aura of family lineage and power without any of the nasty obligations: no endless Thanksgiving dinners or visiting Uncle Theodore in the nursing home to make sure you sew up your inheritance.
Rather, you can wear these faux family names as lightly as a Ralph Lauren sweater. And on a similarly shallow note, the surname trend is partly inspired by celebrities and their characters who are often called by their last names: Beckham (a big winner in the 2008 popularity poll), Chandler, and Donovan, for instance.
While these names are all prominent on the 2008 popularity list for boys, many are of course used for girls too. In the past, once a name crossed to the girls’ side, many parents abandoned it for boys, but that’s not happening as much today — a positive development, we think. For a closer look on surname names and gender identity, see our blog on unisex names.
Reid or Reed
Caden, Kaden and bros
Colton and Colten
Reese or Reece (or the Welsh Rhys)
Trip or Tripp
Zayden et al
Tomorrow, new boys’ names imported from around the world.