Category: The Nameberry 9
When anything goes, how do you know if you’re going too far?
Naming a baby in 2014 is mostly about freedom. Gwyneth’s edibly-named daughter Apple regularly tops the list of craziest celebrity baby names, but we’re calling our own kids Clementine and Olive. Zuma Rossdale’s first name doesn’t sound like a name … except it does sound something like popular choice Ezra.
The list goes on. For almost every so-called “crazy” baby name, there’s a case to be made that it fits in with current trends. But that’s not a guarantee that anything goes.
This past week was filled with foreign imports, misspellings, nicknames that might be too casual, and hero names that might go too far. Take your favorite name, travel to another country, and it could become unwearable. Or name your child something that you really want to use, accept that you might spend the first few months explaining your choice, and then laugh when it makes the Top 100 by the time your kiddo starts kindergarten.
What makes a name a true classic?
Very few names have been in constant use, and those few evergreen choices differ across cultures and languages.
A definition is elusive. A classic should be universally recognized and long established. It should possess either a measure of elegance or another distinguishing characteristic. But classic isn’t a black and white line. In baby name discussions, classic sometimes translates as “a name I like.”
Are Adelaide and Charlotte as classic as Mary? How do Walter and Jeremy compare to William and James? How about names like Samantha or Brooke – seldom heard before the twentieth century, but now solidly established? How many years does it take to make a classic, bearing in mind that classic rock is sometimes as young as five decades old.
The president hosted a fireside chat on Google+ last week. He tackled complex, divisive topics like the environment and the economy.
But baby names?
Giving baby name advice is tough. It means sorting names into the good and the bad, or maybe the good and the less good. Explaining why we like a name is nearly impossible sometimes, isn’t it? Explaining what we dislike can be too easy.
This week’s news was filled with gorgeous girls’ names representing every possible style and trend, from imports to underused classics to modern discoveries.
The nine most newsworthy baby names are:
Being a name nerd used to be hard work.
Do you remember paging through lists of Olympic medalists in the paper, gazing at name plaques in art museums, seeking out family trees in history books at the library? Did you know exactly which days the local paper ran birth announcements?
Then you must be a thirty-something or better name nerd.
I borrowed my mother’s only baby name book and kept it on my bookshelf, between Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. I read it obsessively, even the small print listing nicknames and foreign variants. That long lost book is where I fell in love with Libby and Nan, Katrinka and Alexei.
So many stories about twenty-first century baby naming trends are dismissive. They claim parents are trying too hard for their children to stand out and be unique.
Maybe that happens some of the time, but to me it seems straightforward.
With access to all of these fabulous names, why wouldn’t we consider a wider range of possibilities?
Nine names per week over 51 weeks equals 459 names. They’re classic, they’re quirky, and sometimes they’re downright strange. But when I sat down to review a year’s worth of Nameberry posts, I realized that most of them are actually pretty wearable.
Very few of them repeat – something that surprised me, as it so often seems that a name is suddenly everywhere all at once. Some garnered lots of positive comments while others went completely unnoticed.
My favorite comment? “No, don’t mention THAT name. It’s the top of our list!” As I scrolled through the posts, there were more than a few groans of disappointment.
The best names, though, aren’t necessarily the ones that will be racing up the popularity charts. I’m most attracted to the ones that seem novel – unlikely to catch on, but probably part of a bigger change in how we think about names.