Category: Guest Bloggers

Baby Names: The gender reshuffle

By Eve Newman

What actually makes a name female or male? Most names seem to have been assigned a strict gender based on previous usage, but recently more and more we are seeing boy names used for girls and girl names used for boys.  You could say this is the age of the gender reshuffle.

We make assumptions about the gender of unusual and unfamiliar names based on similarities between them and other names that are maybe more familiar to us, so many of us may take one glance at names such as the Nigerian Ajani, and add them to our girls list (due to the long ‘a’ sound in the middle and the -ee sound ending that also appear in typically ‘girly’ names such as Lana and Emily), when, if we researched a little more, we’d find out that they are typically used for boys in their native cultures. This is how ‘namenapping’ between genders starts – with names that most people are unfamiliar with. If I met a little girl named Ajani, I probably wouldn’t even give it a second thought since I’d have no strong gender assignment in my mind, but this gender swapping opens a gateway to more familiar names being used on different genders.

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By Andy Osterdahl, The Strangest Names in American Political History

Thanks to mass mega-phenomena like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, we’ve been exposed to lots of previously fusty-sounding ancient Latinate names, and some of them are beginning to sound more and more wearable as baby names—in fact several have landed on the current popularity list.  Guest blogger Andy Osterdahl, in his extensive study of the strangest names in American political history, has found many examples of these in the names of past American politicos.

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By John Kelly

Here at Nameberry, we spend most of our time breaking down the latest baby name trends and serving up some of the freshest selections for your newborn. But what about the business of naming itself?  That’s a little discipline called onomastics, or the study of names, a fancy-looking word from the Greek root for, you guessed it, “name.”

 On our blogs, we’re usually discussing given or personal names. A technical term for that is anthroponym, or “human name” in Greek. They range from the traditional Michael and Mary to the more modern Kendall or Kulture. The inspiration for our anthroponyms are many and varied. It could be a toponym, or “place name,” such as Memphis or Milan. It could be a hydronym (the name of a body of water) such as Thames, an oronym (the name of a mountain) such as Sierra, or a geonym (the name of a geographical feature) such as Cliff.

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By Gay Cioffi @  Little Folks Big Questions

How do you tell your only child that you’re expecting a baby?

Before answering this question, I always begin by asking a parent to imagine what it would be like if their spouse or partner made an announcement one day, out of the blue, that went something like this:

“I have exciting news. You are a wonderful spouse, and I love you very much. But, I have decided for our family that it would be incredible if we got another spouse to live with us and join our family, it is going to be so great. And, you will be the special “first” spouse who gets to teach this new spouse everything you know. You are going to love it!”

Most of us would say, “really… seriously?”

This is basically how the idea of a new baby can come across to an only child. Of course, this news should be shared joyfully; however, I am suggesting that parents be mindful of the magnitude of the changes it will bring to the family dynamic and the questions it may raise for the firstborn.

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By  Mélissa Delahaye of Jolis Prénoms

With French baby names, two clear trends have emerged in baby naming: short, simple, two-syllable names and the return to vintage/ancient names. With a heavy preponderance of girl names ending with -a and the growing success of biblical names, there are many overlaps with U.S. trends. French parents are also largely returning to tradition when it comes to naming their children, and old-fashioned names are making their comeback. Name popularity goes in cycles and a growing number of French parents are exploring the branches of their family trees to find inspiration.

Here is a selection of classic names that are either on the rise or already big hits in France, but not as well used in the US:

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