Category: uncool names
When Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany recently named their newborn daughter Agnes, I was very excited. For a baby name connoisseur, the choice of Agnes by two stylish and attractive stars heralded the arrival of a new kind of cool name: the slightly awkward, somewhat geeky name that’s so uncool it’s cool.
Of course, Geek Chic has been around for awhile now, in names as in other aspects of fashion. In our book Beyond Ava & Aiden, we featured a category – now on Nameberry – of Clunky but Cool Names for boys and for girls. (There are also more, similar choices on the lists of Old Lady Names and Old Man Names. The list of Old People Names, taking off from the twitter sensation, is full of names that are terminally geeky.)
Some of these choices, like Hugo and Oscar for boys, for instance, and Imogen and Matilda for girls, sound a lot more cool than clunky these days. As vintage names become more mainstream and our tastes broaden, names that seemed edgy just a few years ago now feel normal and pretty – pretty normal.
Is this another case where the Yanks will follow the Brits in baby-naming trends and revive such previously verboten Grandpa names as Harvey, Arthur, Leon, Walter and Stanley– all once considered distinguished in their day? Or similar in style name like Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard or Ernest?
Which, if any, of the names of this genre would you consider?
Would you choose it only to honor a relative with that name? And/or only as a middle name?
If you did use one, would you consider it cutting-edge or pleasingly retro or perenially stylish?
Journalist and New York City mom Laura Dunphy reports that the pressure is on for Gotham parents to choose baby names that are more creative, more unusual, cooler than those anyone else is using. But no matter how hard you try, you still might not make it.
That’s because like everything else in NYC, baby naming is intense. If most people think naming children is a pleasant activity, like badminton or a picnic, Manhattanites treat it as a competitive sport, like rugby or bond trading.
One thing we learned when we wrote about hipster baby names is that nobody wants one. Many people were horrified if they found their favorite names — or worse, their actual children’s names — on our list of hipster names. No matter how much they’d loved the name before, they immediately went in search of something new, something different, something with a bit less of the whiff of hipsterdom about it.
Well, okay. We can dig grok understand that. It’s intrinsically uncool to be seen as trying hard to be cool, even if you’re doing so by deliberately being uncool. Which, of course, is uncool.
We wrote about this before, in our exploration of names that hit the baby name sweet spot between too cool and not cool enough.
Today we look at how to downshift the hipster factor in some of the prime suspect names. Making a name less hip might mean making it more classic or plainer, but it also might mean making it more unusual, less obviously stylish. If you truly want to pull back from the edge of cool, consider making the following swaps.
Any more bright ideas? We know you have some…..
We made waves recently by writing a piece for The Daily Beast about Hipster Names. Almost universally, the cry went up: Oh no! I’ve given my baby a hipster name! “I have a one-year-old named Matilda,” one mom wrote. “I hate you.”
Ooops, sorry. We love the name Matilda. Really! We’re just a little confused about why hipster has become such a dirty word.
Or not. I mean, we do get it, in a way. There’s something sneering, something dismissive about branding someone or something “hipster.” It connotes the feeling that someone (or something) is trying too hard to be cool, which of course is the definition of uncool.
Would not caring about style lead you to a transcendentally cool name? Or a thoroughly uncool one?
Insert deep sigh here.
The real question on many parents’ minds: How do you choose a name that’s genuinely stylish and interesting but that’s neither too hipsterish or too uncool?
Let’s play (and for you Message Board fans, this would make a great Name Game):
Too cool: EVA
Too cool: LENNON
When it comes to calling the sweet spot, we’re not always that sure of ourselves either — or in agreement. (After I posted this, Linda emailed me, Estelle? Really???) We’d love to hear your ideas on which names hit the sweet spot, and why.