2008 Names of the Year

What are the names that gained the most attention this year, symbolizing how far we’ve come and where we’re heading next?   The election, of course, figured heavily in deciding on the most influential names of 2008, as did popular culture and the economy.  Here are our top ten picks for the Names of the Year.

1.    BARACKHow did an obscure Hebrew/Arabic/Swahili name that means thunderbolt, lightning, and/or blessing come to inspire a wave of baby namesakes?  The same way a self-professed “skinny black kid with a funny name” came to be the 44th president of the United States.  Barack is exactly the kind of singular, ethnic, family name that the next generation of parents is bound to celebrate.

2.    MILEY – It may be Destiny (which was her original given name) that little Miley Cyrus adopted the nickname given to her by her father Billy Ray because she was so smiley, which, thanks to the stupendous success of Hannah Montana, has become one of the fastest rising girl’s names, debuting on the popularity charts at number 278.  Over 2,000 baby girls were named Miley, Mylee or Mylie in the last year counted, and boy cousins Milo and Miles are also climbing the charts.

3.    JOEJoe – the Plumber, Six-Pack, and Biden – was 2008’s Everyman, hailed and scorned by candidates on both sides of the election.  The ultimate good guy name, Joe is short for Joseph – an important figure in both the Old and New Testaments – which has been among the Top 15 Boy’s Names since the Social Security Administration started keeping records in 1880.  It was rarely mentioned that the real Joe the Plumber’s name was actually Sam.

4.    RUBY – A new generation of hip mamas and cool dads has given rise to a whole new class of Hipster Baby Names: quirky choices long dormant and only now revived by adventurous baby namers bent on making parenthood and babies stylish.  Tops on the hipster favorites list, along with Ruby, are such choices as Oscar, Matilda, Rufus, and Sadie.

5.    EDWARD – The alluring vampire hero of Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series has single-handedly turned the slightly awkward, old-fashioned classic Edward into an unlikely candidate for the hottest, edgiest name in town.

6.    TRIG — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was a maverick baby namer, with the choices she made for her five children receiving nearly as much attention as her wardrobe and her televised gaffes.  Place names with personal meaning figured heavily in Palin‘s choices, with oldest son Track named for his parents’ love of running, daughters Bristol and Willow named for favorite Alaska places, and Piper chosen because, according to First Dude Todd Palin, “it was a cool name.” Infant son Trig‘s name is Norse for “strength” and middle name Paxson is another Alaska place name.

7.    JANUARY–  As Betty Draper, the heroine of the TV hit Mad Men set in the early 1960s,  gorgeous actress January Jones introduced her own thoroughly modern name that straddles old and new, a perfect choice as we enter a new age of Camelot.  January is also representative of a whole calendar-related genre of names, such as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s little girl Sunday Rose and such newly-stylish choices as May, June, August, and Winter.

8.    BRONX– – The Crazy Starbaby Name of the Year Award goes to – no contest — Bronx Mowgli, newborn son of rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz.  But Bronx—as opposed to the popular Brooklyn— is about as likely to catch on with non-celebrity baby namers as Kipling-Disney middle name Mowgli.

9.    SASHA– Everyone’s making a fuss over the names of older Obama daughter Malia and power-named mom Michelle, but we think Sasha is more worthy of being a Name of the Year.  In the second First Daughter’s case, Sasha is short for Natasha.  Russian names have quickly gone from heavy-footed to fashionable, thanks to the cadre of long-legged supermodels who’ve imported them to Western Europe and the U.S.  Usually a male nickname for Alexander, it was spelled Sascha by Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, who used it for their daughter.

10.    CASH—The economy’s tanked and we’re cutting up our credit cards, so where should we turn but to Cash, the baby name choice of almost a thousand parents last year.  It has celebrity cred via Cash (real name) Warren, inamorata of Jessica Alba and baby-daddy of Honor Marie, and as son of actress Annabeth Gish.

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13 Responses to “2008 Names of the Year”

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95Crave Show Notes 12.09.2008 | The Blog According to Buzz Bishop Says:

December 9th, 2008 at 6:48 pm

[…] Top Baby Names of the Year: Barack, Trig, Bronx and January. Hmmmm .. […]

Sasha Says:

December 10th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

w00t, Sasha! I think it’s a rockin’ name, maybe I’m just a tiny bit biased! I’ve had people ask if I know my name’s a boys name (I did/do!) or if it’s short for Alexandra, which in my case it isn’t.

Nicole Says:

December 10th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber named their son Alexander and call him Sasha.

Elodeia Xavier Says:

December 10th, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Miley? Please. How trashy… and that’s not even mentioning “Destiny”…

Politics aside, Barack isn’t that great of a name either.

The rest:
Like:
3. JOE
4. RUBY
5. EDWARD
7. JANUARY
9. SASHA*

DISLIKE:
6. TRIG
8. BRONX
10. CASH

ll Says:

December 10th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Bronx tops ZUMA? I don’t think so. Though thank you for leaving out the vicious snark about Pete and Ashlee’s reasons for choosing the name for once.

Best Web Junk (December 12) « Jeremy’s Weblog Says:

December 12th, 2008 at 10:25 am

[…] The top celebrity baby names of the year.  Anybody planning to name their firstborn “Barack” or “Miley”? […]

roosey Says:

December 13th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

actually Miley is growing a lot more popular…

Dani Says:

December 16th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

um… no! Cash? Bronx? Trig? The question, what happens when a NYC cab driver drops you off in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Jack Says:

December 17th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

hebrew baby names…

Although I understand the gist of what you are trying to say, there are still a few points that I need further clarification on….

EvanescenceDolly Says:

June 18th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Who knew Edward would become sexy! I’m an avid reader of the books and I’m on the last, the movie wasn’t the best but it was enjoyable to watch. I really don’t think the books or the movie tops Anne Rice’s Interview with the vampire! Anyway my screaming vampire slover aside, Edward is a nice name *^^*

Maria Says:

September 1st, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I liked the name Miles before Miley Cyrus became so popular. My sister named her kid Cyrus but after a month she changed cuz of Miley.

jill b Says:

March 15th, 2010 at 12:38 am

Trig is what those in the medical community call downs syndrome kids. It is short for Trysome G with is the actual genetic quirk that creates the condition. How appropriate for the Palin’s kid. Can’t see naming my child after a condition though.

jean Says:

July 14th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

miley is getting extremly popular

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