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Category: baby names of 2008

photo by Sara Atkins

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:

Female

AMERICA FERRARA

CAROLINA HERRERA

DAISY FUENTES

DORA the Explorer

EVA MENDES

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boyflowers

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.

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disco-baby

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.

GIRLS

ALMA

BERNADETTE

BILLIE

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heidi klum 220608

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.

The inspiration?  To some extent, it’s celebrities, from actors like Joaquin Phoenix to star dog trainer Cesar Millan to Heidi Klum’s son Johan, Jennifer Connelly’s Stellan, and Madonna’s Rocco.

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!

Amari
Andre
Andres
Axel
Braydon
Cesar
Connor
Cortez
Cruz
Declan
Enzo
Finn
Gianni
Giovanni
Hugo
Ivan
Jamari
Joaquin
Johan
Jonas
Kellen
Kieran
Killian
Liam
Luca
Malachi
Matteo
Mekhi
Milo
Omar
Orlando
Owen
Rafael
Raul
Rocco
Santiago
Santino
Soren
Stellan
Valentino
Xavier

 

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New Surname Names for Boys

beckham-and-sons-2

The grooviest type of new names for boys are the surname names, either the real – Carson, Hunter, Porter – or those that simply have a surname look and feel, such as Drake or Deacon.

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 JeffJacoby 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.

REAL SURNAMES

Beckham
Blake
Brennan
Bryson
Carson
Chandler
Clay
Cohen
Cole
Dawson
Donovan
Fisher
Fletcher
Grady
Grayson, Greyson
Griffin
Hayden
Hudson
Hunter
Jackson
Jacoby
Jagger
Kane
Landon
Lennon
Lincoln
Logan
Maddox
Marley
Mason
Nolan
Parker
Pierce
Porter
Quinn
Reid or Reed
Riley
Ronan
Rowan
Tanner
Tucker
Weston

FAUX SURNAMES

Braxton
Brock
Caden, Kaden and bros
Colton and Colten
Corbin
Dallas
Dalton
Dane
Deacon
Devin
Drake
Easton
Gunner
Jaxon
Jett
Kade
Keegan
Kelvin
Kingston
Kobe
Kyler
Maverick
Paxton
Peyton
Reese or Reece (or the Welsh Rhys)
Ryder
Ryker
Rylan
Sage
Slade
Talon
Tate
Trace
Trey
Trip or Tripp
Wade
Zayden et al

Tomorrow, new boys’ names imported from around the world.

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