By Linda Rosenkrantz
Back in the 1930s and 40s, girls’ names ending in the feminissima French suffix “ette” were the cat’s pajamas. There were glamorous movie stars named Claudette, Paulette and Jeanette, and lots of little girls dubbed Annette and Nanette. But now a funny thing has happened on the way to the nursery: the final ‘e’ has disappeared and suddenly ‘ett’ is one of the hottest endings for boys.
In the recently released list of top names on Nameberry so far this year, there were three two-syllable ‘ett’ boys in the Top 45—Emmett, Everett and Beckett, while also high up on the national list were Bennett, Garrett and Barrett—and if you throw in the single syllable Jett, Rhett and Brett, and sharing the double ‘t’ Wyatt and Elliott, you’ve got the makings of a full soccer team.
Emmett—Emmett is one of the relatively small group of boys’ names to derive from a girls’ name—it originated as a surname from a diminutive of Emma. It’s been in the Top 1000 for as long as US names have been tracked, a Top 300 name from 1880 to 1935. And now, as of 2012, it’s back in the Top 200. Why? Certainly its sudden rapid rise is largely due to Emmett Cullen’s appearance in the Twilight series, though having all those popular Em-girl cousins hasn’t hurt either. Emmett is a Berry fave, ranking at #35.
Everett—Everett has a somewhat more patrician, New Englandy feel than Emmett, though their popularity paths have been very similar. As a surname, Everett derives from the old English name Everard. George Clooney and Dermot Mulroney have both played Everetts in recent films, and it’s been chosen for their sons by author John Irving and singer Isaac Hanson. SS rating: 189, NB rank: 58.
Beckett—A comparative newcomer to the ranks, Beckett, an English place-name surname, didn’t hit the SS list until 2006 but then went on to be a remarkable millennial success story, jumping 471 places since its landing, and now ranking #18 for Berries. And Beckett has also exploded on the starbaby list, adopted en masse by the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Stella McCartney, Conan O’Brien, Malcolm McDowell, Natalie Maines, Nicole Sullivan and others. It’s further enhanced by strong ties to St Thomas Becket and Irish writer Samuel Beckett.
Bennett—Bennett, like most of these two-syllable examples, has been more commonly heard as a surname in the past but now is seen more and more as a distinctive, less biblical alternative to Benjamin, sharing the gentle nickname Ben. At #194, it’s the highest it has ever been, and ranks at #117 on Nameberry. 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski named her son Bennett.
Garrett—Garrett was a Top 100 name in the 90s, and though it has fallen is still at #227, another name bolstered by an appearance as a Twilight vampire, along with its touch of cowboy swagger. There have been Garretts all over the TV screen and pro football fields and in children’s books, and Garrett Gedrick is the son of actor Jason.
Barrett—Long in the lower echelons of the popularity list, Barrett has now slipslided along in this ‘ett’ trend, now at Number 357. There have been three star footballers named Barrett, and it is also well-remembered as the maiden name of poet Elizabeth Browning.
Jett—This cool, jet-fueled name was discovered in the early 90s by the John Travoltas and by George Lucas, but it’s after the year 2000 that it widened its flight pattern with use by celebs Katie Price, Lisa Ling (for her daughter), Stephen Barber and Jill Scott (shown in the illustration with her son). James Dean played Jett Link in his final film, Giant. Jett is currently quite hot in Australia
Rhett—No longer so tightly tied to Gone With the Wind, Rhett still does carry some of the Clark Gable character’s romantic Southern dash. Rhett had a slow start, not entering the Top 1000 until 1955, but, like Scarlett, is now at its highest point of 425, even better at 120 on Nameberry.
Brett—Rhett’s cousin Brett is not doing quite as well, no longer having football star Brett Favre around for inspiration. From a Top 100 name in the 80s, Brett has now dropped to Number 672. A name much older than it sounds, Brett originated in the Middle Ages as an ethnic name for one of the Bretons who arrived in Britain in the wake of the Norman Conquest.
Wyatt—A name loaded with easygoing cowboy charm, Wyatt , immortalized by legendery lawman Wyatt Earp, is red hot–#41 across the country, and a great Berry fave at #12. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell were among the first celebs to use it in 1986. Sheryl Crow wrote a lovely song for her son called “Lullaby for Wyatt.”
Elliott –A name with an indirect route to the Old Testament and a choice of several spellings, Elliott with two t’s is the one remembered as the little boy in E.T. It now ranks at Number 244, a stalwart on the list since 1880.