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Baby Name News of the Week

Happenings across the baby name world

By Clare Bristow

It’s been another week of new discoveries about Americans’ favorite names in 2016.

The big news was the release of the top names in every state. If you’re based in the US and concerned about the popularity of a name, you may want to know how it ranks in your state as well as nationally, because there can be big local differences.

Even the number one names in each state vary a lot – there are 8 different top-spot names for girls across the country, and 11 for boys.

If you want to know how a specific name has ranked over time, try this clever tool from Time magazine. Type in (almost) any name, and you’ll get a moving map of its popularity in every state since 1910. Warning: it’s a bit addictive.

The most popular names in US territories were also released last week, and the top name for girls in Puerto Rico caught my eye: Valentina. It’s long been popular in places with a large Spanish-speaking population, but in the last few years it’s spread more widely. Now Valentina is just outside the national top 100, at number 106. Could she be a successor to Isabella?

If you like the sound of Valentina but not the popularity, Valentine is rare for both boys and girls. And if you’re not sure if it’s wearable, this interview with the mother of a boy called Valentine might make you see the name differently.

Looking for more rarely-used names? To save you the trouble of scanning through the data, here are some more of the best undiscovered boys’ names – they were all used less than 100 times last year.

Celebrity name news: cool stories and popular picks

Have you ever been led astray by a birth announcement? I was this week, twice.

When I read that country musician Jess Carson’s son was born in a hospital parking lot, I wondered if his name, Parker, was a cool way to commemorate that. Wrong: it’s a family name, as is his middle name, Emmanuel. Still, it’s a happy coincidence. Was there ever a more apt name than Parker Carson?

And it does sometimes happen. This baby in South Dakota was named Lewis after the store parking lot where he was born last week.

Then I read that two ice hockey fans named their son after Pittsburgh Penguins player Phil Kessel. Phil, eh? Classic, but perhaps a little dated. Wrong again: the boy’s name is Kessel. This surname name (from the German word for “kettle”) is so rare it’s never charted in the US, but with that cool K initial it fits in with plenty of more popular boys’ names, like Kellan and Keegan.

A couple more celebrity babies remind us that not all stars choose outrageous names. Basketball player Russell Westbrook called his son Noah Russell: the top boys’ name paired with his own.

And reality TV star Maddie Brown Brush welcomed a son, Axel James. Axel has been popular with parents for some time, and it’s edging closer to the Top 100, ranking 116 in 2016. Some boys’ names containing an X, like Lennox and Hendrix, have exploded in popularity in the last 10 years. Axel has a similar feel to these, but it’s more of a steady modern favourite.

Name news from around the world

The hottest American names of the last ten years also include titles like King and Major – but did you know that you can’t use these in some countries?

In Australia, title names are not allowed in case they lead to confusion on paperwork. Recently, for example, parents in Canberra were refused when they tried to name their son PrinceofZion. Traditional royal names are big in Australia, though: the top boy and girl names in the Canberra area last year were Charlotte and William.

What do you do when you can’t decide between two names? One British mum put a poll on the Mumsnet forum, asking readers to choose between Keira and Annie for her daughter’s name. Sometimes when people ask the internet to choose their baby’s name, it can get out of hand (do you remember the dad who created namemydaughter.com to get the, er, finest suggestions the web had to offer?). But in this case, it all went very smoothly and, by popular vote, the girl’s name is Annie.

Finally, if you like names from unusual languages, here’s some news for you: the first book of Sorbian names (a Slavic language spoken in Germany) has been published. You can see all the names online, too. While some of them would be tricky to wear in the English-speaking world, there are some usable choices in there, like Kito, Merana and Sylka.

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7 Responses to “Baby Name News of the Week”

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beynotce Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 8:25 am

Disallowing title names is actually not a terrible idea–or at least, the reasoning behind it is not unfounded. I work in the home mortgage industry, and I have seen multiple mortgages where a data processing error has led to someone’s title (Doctor, Reverend, and yes, King) being stored as their first name. IME, this is often caused by a person’s insistence on other people using their title instead of just “Mr.,” even in contexts where your title isn’t actually relevant (like when talking to your mortgage company 😉 ). With names like Doctor, it’s a safe bet (though of course not guaranteed!) that it’s just an error. A name like Earl, at least in the US, is almost certainly a given name. However, when I see names like Baron, Prince, or King, it’s not immediately clear to me whether it’s an error or the person’s actual given name.

I still like some of the names, though! PrinceofZion is rather silly, but Major, Deacon, and Duke just have a kind of cool that you can’t replicate.

clairels Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 10:48 am

@beynotce I wouldn’t think there would be too many actual kings taking out mortgages, at least in this country. But who knows?

Orchid_Lover Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 10:49 am

Valentina is very pretty.

I’m surprised Valyria hasn’t made the SSA list, especially since Valeria is in the top 200.

Having fun looking through the Sorbian names!

ARead Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

That tool from Time magazine is so cool! And what a fascinating list of Sorbian names! In my ignorance, I’d never even heard of the Sorbian culture but there are a lot of great names on this list. I even found another nickname for my daughter’s name which I’d never thought of before! (Adelaide–>Sorbian “Adelheid”–>Alina) so pretty!

beynotce Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 4:19 pm

@clairels In my limited experience (I think I’ve seen three?), they were all of African origin and not, as far as I could tell, monarchs of sovereign states.

Kate4hisglory Says:

May 25th, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I love that a book of Sorbian names is out there, now we just need a book of Georgian names!

eldie Says:

May 26th, 2017 at 12:45 pm

For the longest time I wanted to name my son Valentine, but eventually I gave it up after a miscarriage. It was so perfect, because its a family name of my partner and it shares the same latin root as my last name, but alas…

I still think it’s a great name for a boy that everyone should use. Even if it’s long, and cumbersome.

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