Baby Name News: Chicago and beyond
In this week’s news we have daring place names (including but not limited to Chicago), sporting heroes, acronyms and an Arabic name meaning beauty.
Chicago and other daring place names
What a difference a week makes! Last week, Chicago was a place name you probably hadn’t considered for a child. This week, she’s a baby girl.
You’ve almost certainly heard by now that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have named their new daughter Chicago, after a city important in Kanye’s childhood. It feels like almost every aspect of the name has already been discussed: the personal significance to dad, the nickname Chi (pronounced “shy”) that the family is using, and how it fits in with current trends like place names and -o endings, yet stands out because it’s so rare. Rare as in never charted for girls (though it has occasionally for boys – no more than 9 times in any year).
For me, the “Chica” part jumps out every time I read it. Even though it’s from a completely different root, I like that Chicago has an endearing word meaning “girl” embedded in it. And also the word “chic”.
Will it have any impact on non-celeb parents? My hunch is that, like her big sister North, Chicago’s name will be a one-off that doesn’t have a lasting impact on name trends. But maybe I’m wrong and, like big brother Saint, it will shoot up the charts this year. We’ll have to wait until May 2019 to find out.
Speaking of unusual place names, there were some great ones suggested in Nameberry’s invent-a-name competition. With options like Zealand, Lisbon, Montrose and Tavira, Kim and Kanye definitely don’t have a monopoly on off-grid place names.
Sporty baby names: Houston and Ynwa
Now for some names inspired by sporting heroes, starting with another place name.
A Christmas baby was called Houston, in honor of the Houston Astros winning the baseball World Series. It’s not such an unusual choice – it ranked #804 in the US in 2016, and slightly higher in its home state of Texas at #697. A bit of extra significance: Houston’s mom also associates the name with resilience, both of the baseball team and the city, after the damage done by Storm Harvey last year.
In the world of British football, remember the Norwegian girl called Ynwa (standing for the team’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone)? Well, now there’s another. Other baby names used by Norwegian superfans of the Reds include Tia (an acronym for “this is Anfield”, the club’s home ground) and Oliver Paul (sounds like “oh Liverpool” – more so in Norwegian).
Other sporty names sighted recently: 14-year-old Brady, named after footballer Tom Brady at his brother’s suggestion, and brothers Jack Nicklaus and Ryan Nicklaus (their first and middle names), whose dad is a big fan of the golfer.
Have you spotted any good sport-inspired names? And would you reuse a middle name to honor someone you admire?
Names and identity: Hala
We know how much names are linked to our identity. Things can get complex when people migrate and change their name – or choose not to. In this piece by Hala Alyan, the author reflects on the double identity she felt as a child between her Arabic self, Hala, and her American alter ego, Holly.
The joy of Joan
Finally, is there any hope of a Joan revival? A medieval staple and former US number 1, it’s now deep in grandmother and great-grandmother territory. So it was refreshing to read about a young Joan in these name stories from Ireland. She was named after her grandmother, and not surprisingly is the only Joan she knows.
Looking for more old-time gems waiting to be rediscovered? Here are 100 of them!
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Birdie Largo Said
on January 25th, 2018 at 5:40 pm
I LOVE Chicago and the nn Chi. Joan and Hala look cool, but I’m still lost on the pronunciation. Can someone help me with that?
on January 26th, 2018 at 4:28 am
I’m honestly more pissed off about Chicago West than I should be lmao. I mean the name itself is cool but it doesn’t match her siblings at. all.?? North, Saint + Chicago idk just does’t fit – plus Chicago West literally sounds like a train station in Chicago or an American high school. Plus is reminds me of Black Chyna’s name.
I thought they’d call her something short and sweet like Wild, Ivy, Cleo, Love… I posted about this a few days before her name was revealed https://nameberry.com/nametalk/threads/267299-Kardashian-baby-names/page2 and I thought it could be that they’d name her after her star sign [eg Libra if she was born September/October – nn Libby or Aries if she was born an Aries] but figured that wouldn’t be the case since Capricorn is a bit of a mouthful lol. Except turns out they pretty much have called Her Capricorn cos Chicago is just as much of a mouthful and kinda looks the same. But I just realised they could have called her Capri!!!
North, Saint and Capri West would be so much cuter than North, Saint and Chicago West. Though North, Saint and Cleo West would be the cutest.
Anyway… I clearly need to go and find a more interesting hobby than caring about what the Kardashians call their kids and what star signs they all are lollll k bye
… but I still hope they call any future kid Wild West
on January 26th, 2018 at 7:08 am
Hi Clare, as always I love reading your baby name news, however, this time I was pleasantly surprised by the piece you shared with us about Hala’s story.
As a 2nd generation Lebanese–American I felt represented by the story she told and have myself, as well as family members, felt the same way about our ethnically Arabic names. It’s two identities we have to keep up with and the thing about Americanizing names to fit in is so darn true.
My name is Laila pronounced LIE–Lah and for many years I allowed myself to be called Lay–Lah in school just in order to fit in. People were so unwilling to get my name pronounced right and I was always just so focused on fitting in and not being judged that I let it pass. I failed to learn Arabic and French with my mom, grandmother and aunts because I wanted so badly to be a normal American, and now I’m struggling very much to catch up. I will never allow my daughters to feel they have to fit in to a certain standard of beauty or Anglo–Saxon language and culture. I want them to be the normal Lebanese–Americans that they are, starting by the Arabic/Middle Eastern names I gave them. I think it was having my daughters that allowed me to reawaken myself to my Lebanese roots and come to cherish, be proud and respect them, as well as reflect on and realize the danger and the hurt that comes with trying to fit into the status quo.
Once again, thanks for sharing!
PS: Hala is totally on my list if I’m lucky to have another daughter!
on January 26th, 2018 at 4:11 pm
@ birdie largo Joan is pronounced like the word “zone” but beginning with a J.
I don’t know if Hala is pronounced Hal-a, Hall-a or Ha-la but I suspect it will be one of those.
Birdie Largo Said
on January 27th, 2018 at 5:33 pm
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