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Category: Nick Turner

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Christmas baby names

By Nick Turner

It’s the holiday season, which means eggnog, carols, twinkling lights and — for millions of American parents — remembering to move that damn elf around the house every night.

Yes, I’m talking about Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas tradition that feels like it’s been going on forever but is less than ten years old. If you’re unacquainted, the idea is to plant an elf doll in your home that serves as a sentry for Santa. It watches your children and reports on their evil deeds. (Somehow this delights kids rather than terrifying them.)

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Lynn and lee names

By Nick Turner

In my last post, I wrote about how baby names are getting longer — with choices like Isabella and Olivia (four syllables each) trumping old-fashioned picks such as Mary and Anne.

While I was sifting through the data for that piece, I noticed something interesting. Some of the short names that were common in the past (Lynn, Lee, Leigh) haven’t really gone away. They’re just hiding within longer names.

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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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