Aspirational Baby Names: The rich and the regal
By Tara Ryazansky
When Lil‘ Kim named her new baby Royal Reign, I was taken aback for a second by this bold combo. I mean, a regal name makes sense for the queen of hip-hop and all, but it got me wondering –do aspirational names rule or are they a dying trend?
When I say aspirational names, I am not talking about names with a slight royal connection that gives them an air of wealth and importance. Nothing as subtle as a queenly namesake like Victoria or with a lofty meaning like Casper, which means “wealthy man”. I am talking about the more literal choices, such as Cash and Diamond, King and Prince, that try to project grandeur and luxury.
Names like these are dismissed by some because they can come off as narcissistic or trying too hard to be posh. Naming a child after an expensive item can be seen as a shallow, consumerist choice. But some of these examples can be pulled off with style. Who wouldn’t want their child’s name to project a dignified, royal vibe? Aren‘t most names chosen with hopes of future greatness?
Royal– Kim‘s choice just reentered the Social Security Top 1000 in 2013 as a boy name ranking at 899. I like it because it feels old fashioned and a little fusty (in a cool way) to me. Roy is a handsome nickname. I think this one works.
Cash– This one has a literal connection to wealth that could be considered tacky by some. I love the name Cassius but will never use it because of the inevitable nickname. The name is in the Top 300 though, so I might be the only one who doesn’t love Cash.
Bentley– Not every boy called Bentley was named for the luxury automobile, but expensive cars are still the first thing that come to mind when I hear it on the playground. The connection to MTV’s Teen Mom makes it feel down market to me. But with its ‘ley’ ending, I predict that this one could make its way onto the girls’ list in the next few years.
Duke– This one is far removed from images of Dukes and Duchesses for me; rather than royal, it feels bluesy and rugged. I think it’s a great choice for parents who are looking for something that’s regal in a subtle way and I believe it will be more popular in the years to come.
King– Both King and Kingston are in the Top 200, making it quite likely that you’ll meet a little King at some point, and I like it for its zippy and playful sound. It’s also a surname name with plenty of excellent namesakes. I see the haughty side of it too, but a boy with a modest demeanor could pull it off.
Diamond– While names like Pearl and Opal feel more on-trend, Diamond did climb substantially between 2012 and 2013. I appreciate its strength in contrast to so many of the aspirational girl names that are cutesy, but to me, this one has a hard sound. Diamond’s sparkly and expensive image seems to appeal to a considerable number of new parents though.
Maven– The meaning of “expert” and the fashiony feel of this name make it seem lofty enough to fit on this list. I think it projects a respectable level of importance and sounds like a combo of Maeve and Haven, both great choices.
Queenie– Speaking of queenly, what about Queenie? I find it charming, with the old fashioned appeal of names like Hattie and Etta. Queenie hasn’t been within the Top 1000 since the 1920’s, but I think it would be a cool choice for a little girl today.
Princess– Just making it onto the list in the 982 spot is Princess, which to me, is both diminutive and clunky at the same time. I can’t think of any suitable nickname, and I know that if my name were Princess I would definitely want one. This would probably be a dream-name for many little girls though—but maybe not so much for an adult.
Luxe– I like the superhero feel of this short and spunky name. Plus it reminds me of the Lux character in The Virgin Suicides. However, its meaning brings up negative implications when relating a woman to expensive luxury goods. So I’m on the fence about this one.
Majesty– This name is derived from Majesta, the Roman goddess of honor, and it comes with great nicknames like, Madge or Maggie, maybe even Jess. If royal names are your thing, this one has a stately vibe and it isn’t overly popular.
I thought that this genre of names might be falling out of style, but all of the boy options listed are within the Social Security Top 1000 names for 2013. Most of the girl names are on the rise as well, though the trend seems stronger for boys. What do you think of these aspirational baby names?
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on July 2nd, 2014 at 6:39 am
It should be noted that less than a week after writing this I heard Messiah on the playground for the first time!
on July 2nd, 2014 at 10:01 am
Lux means light. Luxe means luxury.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 10:06 am
These names definitely aren’t my style, but to each their own I guess.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 11:27 am
Fascinating subject! Kaiser is an interesting one that could almost work, but definitely not in Southern CA (Kaiser Permanente).
Somebody (a boy) who went to my MI high school had a high-falutin’ middle name of ChristianDior. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it on the program.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 11:30 am
Oh yeah, and don’t forget Jermaine Jackson’s son Jermajesty.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 12:51 pm
You forgot Major, the biggest climber from last years list.
Bentley wont go girl, it entered their top 1000 a couple of years ago and then dropped out, not all -ley names are girly.
Cash I relate more to Johnny Cash rather than money.
I like Kaiser but I much prefer Kai on its own.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 2:16 pm
I am really interested in whether or not the -zer ending will pop up now that it’s gotten some buzz via Kaiser, but for the life of me I can’t think of anything that includes it!
Major would majorly fit in on this list @skizzo.
Earl, Judge, Gucci, Lexus and Prince could join the list as well.
I keep thinking of that story about the baby named Awesome. I wonder if named like Happy & Sunshine fall somewhere on the aspirational name spectrum.
I’m on the fence about names like Matisse or Monet, Salinger or Bronte. I find them aspirational in a way. What do you guys think?
on July 2nd, 2014 at 2:44 pm
My eyes keep rearranging “Reigna” to “Regina” which is Latin for “queen” as well as an established name choice. Reina also means “queen” but via Italian. If you want to get technical neither of these names quite mean “queen” but rather “female ruler.” “Reigna” would just lead to confusion for everyone, because it looks like a typo.
on July 2nd, 2014 at 8:18 pm
Re: Matisse, Bronte, & co. I see these popping up more often, but I see them more as “branding” names than aspirational, sort of like Harley and Mercedes. I’m an art historian, and I can’t imagine many art-minded folk naming their baby Monet because they want their baby to aspire to be like Monet. I think those outside the art world just think it makes them sound more artsy. I don’t mean that to sound snobby, just personal observation.
on July 3rd, 2014 at 6:45 am
@peacebird10 I agree.
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