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Baby Name Trends: and other news of the week

October 23, 2019 Linda Rosenkrantz

by Emma Waterhouse

This week’s name news includes baby name trends, some stunning “sweet spot” starbaby names, the thorny issue of baby name theft, and a celebration of unique baby names of all shapes, sizes and sources.

Celebrity Baby News

It’s aaaaa… baby for Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds!

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are now parents of three! Just as with their older children, daughters James (4) and Inez (3), the proud parents aren’t releasing any more details about the new arrival just yet — although a Twitter post in which Reynolds refers to his “daughters” has fans convinced it’s a third girl for the couple.

While we impatiently await an official name announcement, here’s what the wonderful Sophie, our resident Name Guru to the Stars, predicted for them. Wouldn’t another -s/z ending name, like Hollis, Mavis or Beatriz, be fun? What’s your money on?

Starbaby baby name trend of the week: traditional with a twist

Speaking of eagerly awaited announcements, we’ve also finally learned the names of some other high-profile arrivals this week — and they read like a How To of “sweet spot” baby naming. Familiar yet fun, sweet yet sassy, traditional with a twist. Our favorite style!

Australian beauty queen and TV presenter Jennifer Hawkins welcomed her first daughter Frankie Violet, actress Keira Knightley and her husband James Righton chose the delightful Delilah for their second baby girl (a sister for Edie), and Troian Bellisario finally revealed the glorious name she gave to her now-one-year-old daughter: Aurora.

And on the boys’ side, Duck Dynasty stars John Luke and Mary Kate Robertson announced that they’d chosen the sweet and solid John Shepherd for their firstborn son, who will go by his full double name like his parents.

Congratulations all round!

Namenapping, celebrity style!

Lauren Conrad’s new son Charlie Wolf also fits the “traditional with a twist” mold: half cute and cuddly, half fierce and fresh. But word has it that Zooey Deschanel, whose two-year-old son shares the name, was less than thrilled to hear of a second little Charlie Wolf in the world, calling it a “really specific name”.

In fact, both names are trending in a big way right now: Wolf is in the Top 600 most searched boys’ names on Nameberry this year, and Charlie is in the Top 50! Still, intentional or not, anyone who’s ever had their carefully chosen baby name “stolen” will understand Zooey’s irritation.

Baby name theft is always a hot topic in our Forums — what’s your take? Have you ever experienced anything similar?

“Crazy” names: the new norm?

We’ve written extensively in the past about how the pool of baby names used in the US is getting wider every year, with almost a third of babies now receiving a name outside of the official Top 1000. And the trend towards increasingly “unique” baby names is by no means limited to the US.

Case in point: a baby boy in Australia named Citizen Sage, which — apart from some potentially thorny legal wrangling — really doesn’t feel all that out there in 2019, especially beside brothers Atlas and Everest, and sister Zephyr.

The drive for originality exists in other languages, too. This French article — with a title to make any French-speaking name nerd’s day! — focuses on invented names: borrowed from famous brands or figures (Louboutin, Batman, Alkapone — say it aloud); created by combining other names or words (Kylienzo, Merci Mireille, Lumière Frida); or by respelling more traditional options (Khamylle, Robaire, Ozyrys).

According to French sociologist Baptiste Coulmont, the function of the first name has changed since the First World War: first names are now used much more widely, even in formal contexts, and serve to identify individuals in a way that surnames did previously. And many parents have other, more personal reasons for wanting a truly one-of-a-kind name for their child: like Alison, who chose an unconventional spelling for her son’s name (Oween) “to mark him out as unique, as he is in my eyes”.

When Names Mean More

Clearly, baby names can — and maybe even should — be about so much more than just an appealing sound. Names can be a celebration, a tribute, a mark of pride and belonging.

Take this couple, also in France, whose two-year legal battle to be allowed to use a diacritic on their son’s birth certificate finally ended in victory this week. The name in question? Fañch, a traditional choice in the Breton language of north-western France, which is in steep decline today.

Accepting names like Fañch — or like the Chinese Ma Yun or the Japanese Atsushi, rather than Americanized versions like Jack Ma or Sushi — isn’t about aesthetics, it’s about equality and respect.

“Make The World Greta Again!”

On the subject of names which stand for more, I have to end with this sweet story. The author’s young daughter, Greta, had always hated her name because it “wasn’t a proper name” and had no natural shortening. She was desperate for a different, more mainstream name, like Anne. But, as the author puts it: “Before, Gretas were rare. Now, everyone wants to be a Greta”.

Post-Thunberg, his Greta-hating daughter can be found at youth climate demonstrations, brandishing a large placard with the slogan… You guessed it!

Emma Waterhouse  better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from pregnancy and birth to unique baby names from fiction and fantasy. As Nameberry’s head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England‘s smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.


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