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Category: Nick Turner

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names getting longer

By Nick Turner

Baby-name fads have come and gone over the decades, but one trend has held true: Names are getting longer.

A hundred years ago, boys’ names were typically less than two syllables. John, James, George and Frank were all popular picks, and there were no three-syllable names anywhere in the top 20.

In recent decades, that changed. Three- and four-syllable choices like Alexander, Nicholas, Joshua and Christopher surged in popularity, turning America‘s baby names into more of a mouthful.

By the 2000s, the average syllable count for a top 20 boys’ name had climbed to 2.25 — up from 1.8 in the 1880s.

Girls’ names, meanwhile, have gotten even longer. A Top 20 female name had an average syllable count of 2.75 last year. That compares with 2.05 in the 1880s.

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baseball-mookie

By Nick Turner

Baseball is a game of statistics and trivia, but there’s one area that often goes unexamined: the names of baseball players.

So with the World Series starting next week, it seemed like a good time to explore the rich trove of amazing names that the sport has to offer.

I took to this task by poring over the active rosters of all 30 major league teams, looking for naming patterns that were unique to the sport. I also studied the 300-plus players inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s where you’ll find the real motherlode of naming awesomeness.

Many classic baseball names may be a tough sell for today’s parents (Honus, anyone?). But they could provide inspiration if you’re looking for offbeat choices associated with America‘s pastime. And who knows…maybe with the right fate-sealing name, your kid will be able to support you later as a shortstop for the Astros.

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Presidential Names: Which ones went viral?

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presidential names

By Nick Turner

Like millions of Americans, I was riveted by the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts that aired this month on PBS. (I didn’t manage to watch all of 14 hours, but I hope to catch up eventually.)

I adore the first names in the Roosevelt family tree (Alice, Anna, Edith, Eleanor, Elliot, Ethel and Theodore are probably my favorites). But the documentary also got me thinking about Roosevelt itself, which the family’s charisma helped turn into a surprisingly common baby name.

In 1905, when Teddy Roosevelt was beginning his second term as president, his surname became the 91st most popular baby name in America. At the time, Roosevelt ranked higher than Stephen, Jacob, Alexander, Patrick or Philip.

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Occupational Surnames: Far from a fad

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occupational surnames

By Nick Turner

Back in 2012, I heard about parents naming their babies Draper in honor of Mad Men. I remember thinking the idea was daring but a little silly. These people were taking the last-name-as-first-name trend to an absurd conclusion, I griped.

It had been a few years since occupational surnames like Cooper and Mason had become popular, and I worried that pretty soon every kid would be a Fletcher, Tanner or Jagger. Traditional names were a dying species.

Then I made a startling discovery.

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car names--NT

By Nick Turner

If you’re like me, your favorite baby names are ones that peaked at least 100 years ago. But I always seem to have an easier time finding great “century names” for girls than boys. (When we named our kids, my female list was much longer than my male one.)

So I was excited to discover a rich source of vintage boys’ names: the early auto industry.

Automobile pioneers were active in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which means they have fabulous names. (There’s not much in the way of girls’ choices here, but we can all take solace in the fact that the auto industry is less sexist than it used to be. America‘s largest automaker, General Motors, is currently run by a woman.)

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