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Baby Name News: Norse names, nicknames and more

November 8, 2017 Clare Green

By Clare Bristow

This week’s news includes gender-neutral names for boys, lots of creative nicknames, and inspiration from revolutionaries, Norse myth, and the internet.

Unisex names for boys

Sometimes it feels like when a name crosses genders, it tends to go more from the boys to the girls than the other way. You’re more likely to meet a girl called James than a boy called Jayne.

But that’s not always the case. This week you might have seen a name reveal video where the expectant parents sent a balloon to the stratosphere. They’re obviously science-lovers, which explains their son’s name: Tesla Curtis.

The Serbian surname Tesla is more popular for girls in the US: 161 in 2016 as opposed to 17 boys. It’s only started being used for boys in the last decade, but there’s no reason why it can’t go both ways.

Another mother gave her son what she considered to be a feminine name, because she originally hoped for a girl. In fact, Cass charts more for boys (but is still uncommon) on both sides of the Atlantic. If you like Cash but are worried about its popularity or its wordiness, it could be a good alternative. And as a nickname it’s pretty gender-neutral: it could be short for Cassia or Cassandra, but also Cassius or Casper.

Creative nicknames

If you like nicknames, you’ll love October’s babyberry announcements. There are some wonderful examples of parents being playful and getting two great names for the price of one. They include Axel for Alexander, Birdie for Alberta, Cleo and Opal for twins Clementine and Cassiopeia, Glo for Gloria, Rosie for both Lorelei and Isadora, Thea for Althea, Mae for Mavis…it’s a name-lover’s paradise. There are even more nickname suggestions for boys in the Name Sage’s column this week.

They show that statistics don’t tell us everything. None of these short forms will count in the SSA data next year, but in terms of real-world use they’ll be more popular than the figures suggest.

On the other hand, you might want to use “just” a nickname with no long form. I’ve spotted a few of these in the news recently.

Dolly is daughter of country singer Kimberley Schlapman, who got to meet her namesake Dolly Parton (another “just Dolly”). There’s also Dottie, the new daughter of motorcycle racer Guy Martin. This diminutive has shot up the charts in England and Wales in recent years. Parents in the US are just starting to notice it too, but the longer Dorothy is far more popular.

Peggy is perhaps not quite ready to make a comeback in the States – it was most popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, so it’s in grandma territory. If you know a Peggy, this article about living with the name might ring true for her.

Looking for more inspiration? Here are some of the best nickname names for girls and for boys.

A boy called Google

We’ve seen a baby name inspired by science. Now here’s one inspired by modern technology: Google, the son of Ghanaian film producer Francis Dzogbetsi. Dad explained that the search engine helps him overcome his lack of education, and he hopes his son will grow up to be a researcher.

He’s not the first: a boy in Sweden was given Google as a middle name in 2005, and no doubt there are more young Googles out there. Parents name their children after car makes, fashion labels and other admired brands, so why not tech companies too?

Revolutionary names

It’s one thing to give your child the name of a person or brand you admire. But this article about people named for left-wing revolutionary icons shows parents taking creativity to whole new levels. You might have heard of Ninel (that’s Lenin spelled backwards), and there are also smooshes and acronyms including Marenglen, Mels and Vladilen. By comparison, wordplay names like Nevaeh and Ily seem quite humdrum.

Norse names

Finally, with Thor: Ragnarok out in movie theatres now, do you think we’ll see a surge in names from Norse mythology? Odin and Freya sit comfortably in the top 400, but Thor and Loki haven’t broken into the top 1000 since the film franchise started, despite interest from name nerds. The movie title might put Ragnar in parents’ minds too. It’s already had a mini-uptick in the last few years, and was given to 39 boys in 2016.

If you prefer your nordic names less epic, there are lots of accessible ones in this list of Scandinavian names – or else there’s always the IKEA dictionary.

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles