This week’s news includes celebrity baby names you might just want to use, baby name dilemmas to consider, and more occupational names than you can shake a stick at!
We may not all want a Psalm among our children, but how about an Ava Sue? That’s the name actor Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) gave his new daughter. Alfonso and his wife Angela really are the A-Team: their older sons are Anders and AJ.
With sons named Spurgeon Elliot and Henry Wilberforce, Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald could have gone in any direction with baby number 3, although we predicted it would have some religious significance. As it turns out, they went botanical and fairly mainstream: Ivy Jane was born last weekend.
We were expecting multicultural names from actor Jonathan Tucker and his wife Tara, who has Indian and Arabic heritage, and they didn’t disappoint. Their boy-girl twins Hayes Taj and India Moss have arrived, with combinations that blend several styles: a fast-rising surname, an Indian name that’s popular in Australia, a significant place and a very rare name from nature – perhaps from the family tree?
Pick your side: football and political names
Children’s names say a lot about their parents, whether they’re meant to or not. This week we’ve got examples from the worlds of sport and politics.
Carson – as in the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz – has skyrocketed in the last three years, nationally and especially on the team’s home turf in Pennsylvania. It feels like Carson was the right name on the right person at the right time. It came along at a moment when parents were ready for an alternative to names like Mason and Kaysen. For more widely-used names like Thomas and Robert – both New England Patriots players – it’s hard to claim that they were all influenced by footballers, although that doesn’t stop people from trying.
Can our beliefs influence the style and even the sound of the names we prefer? A recent study on baby names in California found that liberal parents are more likely to choose whimsical, unusual names, while conservative parents are more apt to use traditional baby names like John and Katherine. Names with liquid consonants, like Julian and Malia, are more common in liberal and Democratic neighborhoods, while ones with “harder” sounds like Trig and Bristol (the article’s examples, not mine!) are more popular with Republican families. And is there any in-between? Yes, there’s a large pool of names, like Joshua and Andrew, that are politically evenly balanced.
Does this mean you should scrap your shortlist if it trends towards the wrong party? Absolutely not: these are only tendencies in a huge pool of names and influences. Plus, the data was from 2004, so a lot has changed both in politics and in baby naming since then. With a few exceptions, no one is ever going to guess from your child’s name whether you lean red, blue or purple.
Name dilemmas: theft, memes and unwanted nicknames
Let’s look at the latest baby naming issues making the rounds on the internet. In fact, let’s put ourselves in their shoes. Prepare for many questions to ponder!
Picture this: you give your son an unusual name, let’s say Diesel. Your friend compliments it and tells you she wants to use it too, and a few months later she does. Would you be angry? Embrace the shared name? Or would you, like this mother, cut off the friendship?
Here’s another one: your daughter’s name is Cassia but your mother insists on calling her Candy. Do you accept it as a cute nickname exclusive to grandma? Or do you try to stamp down on it – and take to the internet to air your views?
Bold honor names: Lea and Narendra
There are several stories of meaningful honor names in the news this week. In India, a Muslim couple named their son after the country’s newly re-elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It’s a bold choice given that the name derives from the Hindu god Indra, plus the word nara, meaning man – some interpret it as meaning “lord of men”. Young Narendra’s parents hope that both will go on to do good works.
Meanwhile back in the US, parents have named their daughter Noa Lea, in honor of a victim of the shooting at a San Diego synagogue last month, whose Hebrew name was Leah. There’s another riff on Leah in this baby girl’s name: Arna Leia nods to grandmother Anna and aunt Leah, with a Greek/Star Wars twist.
Speaking of honor names, it was refreshing to spot a boy called Honor, in this article about reviving the Tongva language of California. In fact, in recent years, the name has become almost gender-neutral: last year 103 girls and 95 boys were named Honor.
Ultimate occupation names
If you like the trend for occupational surnames – think Parker and Cooper – you’ll love this huge list of archaic jobs from Family Tree Researcher. Ones you might not have thought of include Bridger, Keeler and Quiller…though I’d advise caution with some on the list, like Muffin Carrier and Knock Knobbler!