Category: quirky baby names
Guest blogger Sachiko, an LDS church member and mother of going-on-seven children, enlightens us on the ins and outs of the strange baby naming practices of the state of Utah.
If you’re familiar with Utah baby naming, you know what I’m talking about.
If you aren’t, then here’s a link to the Utah Baby Namer. I recommend you click on “The Cream of the Crop.” I know you’re busy. You only need to read a few.
No, really. Go on. I’ll still be here when you get back.
Do you see what some of the laughing is about?
Some of the subsets of Utah names, and what makes them seem so ridiculous to outsiders:
Scriptural Names — This one’s a no-brainer. Utah culture is not always the same as, but is connected to, LDS church history.
Like other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people view books of Holy Writ as prime baby naming material.
Unlike other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people have scriptures other religions don’t have, most notably the Book of Mormon. Which means names you probably haven’t heard before, unless you’re familiar with Semetic and Egyptian names from the ancient world such as Nephi, Moroni, Mahonri, or Moriancumr.
Is Everybody Here Named Smith, Kimball or Young? Most of the early converts to the LDS church were from the British Isles. Add that to a few decades of polygamy, and you end up with huge amounts of descendents with the same English last name.
This can help explain why Utah baby namers sometimes choose wildly divergent names: to differentiate themselves from all the siblings, cousins, neighbors and strangers with the same last name. This is also where Utahns get historical names like Brigham, Parley and Heber.
Here, our latest collection of names that have been overlooked and are deserving of greater consideration:
ALOISA. Aloisa has several things going for it: It starts with A, which is nearly a guarantee of appeal these days; it’s superfeminine; it’s a grownup name ready to face the tough times ahead; and it’s also a distinctive spin on such up-and-coming choices as Louisa and Eloise.
AMITY. Virtue names like Hope, Faith and Grace have been on the rise for several years as parents look back to the righteous values of an earlier time in history; then Jessica Alba stepped out of the box with the less used Honor. Amity, taking it a step further, succeeds in combining virtue with an attractive feminine sound and a warm, friendly meaning.
POSY. Flower names have been well-used over the past decade or two, with such garden variety specimens as Lily, Rose, Violet and Daisy blossoming (sorry, can’t help it) everywhere and parents now looking to somewhat rarer blossoms like Aster, Lilac, Lotus, Poppy and Amaryllis. Our nominee for cutest underused flower name: Posy.
I relish the days when, in the service of nameberry, I allow myself to click through to the birth announcements in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. The upper-crusty British baby name trends and eccentric (to the American ear) name combinations, oblivious to any conventional notions of “flow,” are my idea of top-flight entertainment.
For my latest survey, I set myself the task of listing only those offbeat names that reflect the English sensibility but are rarely heard heard in the United States – or indeed anywhere else in the world. (They may be rarely heard in Britain too — there are lots more Thomases than Teklas — yet they’re in keeping with upper-class British style.)
What I didn’t suspect was how many of them there were. Choices that originally seemed natural for the list – Henrietta and Imogen, for instance – had to be offloaded to make way for more extraordinary names.
What remains is a selection of quirky British baby names (not all of them actual English choices), many of which are utterly (utterly, dahling!) charming and could bear far more use in the larger world.
For several years now, word names have been singled out as being at the extreme edge of cool—we may have been guilty of pushing that edge ourselves at times. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to pull back a little, and put the brakes on. Celebrities have tried to outdo each other to sometimes eye-rolling effect in the effort to find a ‘unique’, attention-grabbing word name : I’m not naming names but I might mention a few words like zeppelin and pirate and peanut.
Of course there are word names and there are word names and probably the most acceptable and appealing are the centuries-old Virtue names created by the early and most zealous Pilgrims to display their righteous religiosity. Though such excessive male phrase-names as Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith and Fly-fornication are long gone, the simpler girl virtue names have not only survived but some are now downright trendy: Grace, Hope, Faith, and, more recently, Felicity, True and Honor.
Other worthy examples include:
Unusual baby names are becoming more and more, well, common these days. A mere one percent of babies are named Emma or Jacob, the most popular names, and only about ten percent are given one of the Top Ten names. Compare that to a hundred years ago, when FIVE percent of babies were given the most popular names John or Mary, and 30 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls received one of the Top Ten Names. For the first time, less than half of all babies get one of the Top 50 names.
And it’s not only American parents who are choosing unusual baby names. Chinese parents, seeking individuality in a country with 1.3 billion people sharing only 129 surnames, are turning to unconventional combinations of letters, numbers and symbols for their children’s names. One couple wanted to name their baby 1A while others use the @ symbol, pronounced “aita” and meaning “love him” in Chinese.
Many European countries restrict the pool of possible names, though many parents are testing the centuries-old boundaries. But Belgium, with no such laws, over half of children receive such unique names as Testimony, Cherub, and Edelweiss.
If you’re considering giving your baby an unusual name, your biggest question may be: How will an unusual name affect my child for better and worse throughout his or her life?