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This Week’s Newsiest Names: From John to Kash to Kroy

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This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel investigates some of the factors affecting the shifts in names’ popularity.

Last week we wanted to write about babies named Mitt Romney and Sandy, and as it happened, the world gave us both.  Name nerds and regular folk alike respond to the idea that dramatic, world-changing events have an impact on what we name our children.

But while everyone else is confidently predicting an uptick in little girls called Sandra, berries know that the picture is far more complicated.  Besides, wouldn’t Sandrine or Alessandra be the more stylish option?

The truth is that the real shifts in names are rarely caused by a headline-grabbing event.  While it was easy to be distracted by tales of Kenyan twin brothers given the names Barack and Mitt, last week was also rich with stories that show longer-term change in how we think about the names we give our children.

Last week’s nine biggest names in baby name news were:

Alfred – In the UK, Alfie is a solidly established favorite, the British equivalent of JaydenAlfie shows no signs of catching on in the US, but Lisa Milbrand’s post has me wondering if Alfred could make a comeback.  Alternate nickname Freddie might appeal to some parents.  And isn’t Batman’s butler a cool association?  Arthur felt impossibly fusty just a few years ago, and now he’s on the rebound.  Alfred could be next.

Willow – A pair of Australian celebs welcomed a son called Willow.  Yes, a male Willow, just like the character in the 1988 Val Kilmer movie.  Maybe they’re going to call him Will.  Or maybe we’re reaching a moment where we really can use the same name for girls and boys without risking raised eyebrows.  In the US, I’d say that Jordan and Charlie are completely fair game, and the pool of truly gender neutral choices seems to be growing.

Bo – Is Bo a boy name or a girl name?  Does it matter if it is spelled BeauWaltzing More than Matilda spotted a birth announcement for a girl named Bo Felicity – quirky, surprising, and charming.

Kash – The clash over Kash on Real Houswives of Atlanta has me captivated.  It’s the standard baby name-stealing conflict playing out on reality TV.  Kim Zolciak recently gave the name to her newborn son, vexing fellow castmate Kandi Burruss who claims it was her top pick should she ever have a boy.  My take?  Kash might seem unusual, but he and Cash are white hot.  It is no surprise that moms called Kim and Kandi would both shortlist him.

Kroy – Which reminds me, Kim’s husband is Kroy and their firstborn is Kroy, Jr.  Did you catch Nameberry’s blog about surfer boy names like Dean, Clark, andTroyTroy might be solidly in dad name territory, but Kroy feels fresh, somewhere between Cash, Cruz, and Kai.

John NameFreak turned to the Top Ten from 1911.  John, the number one name for ages, has dropped steadily over the last century, as have most of our former favorites.  Does the hundred-year rule skip over the top hits?  Names like Pearl, Ruby, Stella, and Leo,Everett, and Homer support the rule, but they were never nearly as common as John and Mary.

Heather – Let’s face it – when a name catches on matters.  With Harper,Willow, and Violet in vogue, Heather ought to be zooming up the popularity charts.  Except that Heather was a hit back in the 1970s and 80s, so today she’s considered dated.  Angela at Upswing Baby Names makes a convincing case that we’re judging her too harshly.

Samaire – Actress Samaire Armstrong is expecting her first child next year.  Her name is incredibly rare.  Armstrong says that it is Gaelic, which seems plausible but has proven impossible to confirm.  The actress also reports her father found the name in a Conan the Barbarian story, so … maybe not.  Still, it is a stunningly pretty name, pronounced sah MEER uh.

Emily – From the unusual to the familiar, I loved this story about a mom who helped another woman deliver a baby at a bus stop.  The newborn was named in honor of the helper, Emily.  I love it when seemingly ordinary names turn out to have amazing stories behind them.

How do you think names are changing now?  What do you think of choices like Kroy and Samaire, or are you more interested in Alfred and Heather?

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