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A Different Kind of College Ranking

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college baby names

By Nick Turner

What are the best colleges in America? Well, you could consult rankings published by U.S. News & World Report and others. They’ll probably tell you the answer is Harvard or Princeton or some other predictable choice.

But in my view, no college is worth anything if people aren’t naming their children after it. That’s why I’ve created the First Annual College Baby Name List — a ranking of the most popular university-themed monikers in America.

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baby names

By Nick Turner

I’m that rare flower in the world of baby-name blogging: a man.

And while I’m content to be in a female-dominated field, it’s puzzling that more dads don’t take an interest in naming their kids.

It seems like it’s usually the mom who draws up lists and researches each possibility exhaustively. The father just retains veto power.

Of course, this is a gross generalization (I’m about to make several of those), but men need to take a more active role. And I don’t mean insisting that their son be called “Jr.”

So in the interest of breaking down sexism by making a series of very sexist assumptions, here are five things that might get dads more excited about baby names.

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Geographic Names Over Time

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Geographical names

By Nick Turner

A century ago, you would have gotten some strange looks if you named your daughter Brooklyn — and not just because the borough wasn’t yet a hipster enclave.

Geographic baby names were rare in those days, and hardly anyone looked to grimy cities like New York for inspiration.

Today, babies with place names are everywhere. While Brooklyn is arguably the No. 1 geographic name, you’ll find plenty of kids named Austin, Savannah, Hudson and London roaming America‘s playgrounds. (And a few named America too.)

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TV’s Out-of-Synch Name Syndrome

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TV names

By Nick Turner

Walk into any kindergarten in America and you shouldn’t be surprised to find kids named Olivia, Quinn or Harrison. Maybe you’ll come across an Owen, Jackson or Callie too.

The names are popular picks for parents in the 21st century, which is why you’re much more likely to encounter a toddler Owen than one who’s middle-aged.

But all those names are actually characters from Scandal and Grey‘s Anatomy, two shows from the prolific Hollywood producer Shonda Rhimes. And they’re portrayed by actors in their 30s and 40s.

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The Super Bowl of Football Names

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Super bowl baby names

By Nick Turner

Back before the World Series in October, I did a post on the elements of a classic baseball name. The upshot: The sport favors colorful nicknames (Scooter, Bullet, Coco Crisp), and players frequently go by their initials (there were eight AJs on active Major League rosters last year). Casey also was disproportionately popular.

With the Super Bowl coming in a few days, it seems fitting that I now turn my attention to football.

What makes for a quintessential NFL name?

To start, that playfulness you see in baseball doesn’t exist as much in football. It’s a tough sport and perhaps that requires a serious moniker. Players rarely go by cute nicknames. And though initials aren’t unusual, they’re not nearly as prevalent as in baseball.

That said, the names still have swagger — just with more of a straight face.

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