Category: Guest Bloggers
by Esmeralda Rocha
Nowadays, a lot more parents are looking to unique names to help their little boys stand out from the crowd. Fifty years ago, the Top 20 boys’ names represented 41% of all male children; by contrast in 2015, the Top 20 boys’ names were given to only 14% of baby boys.
Ironically, the greater variety of names being used today means that unique names for boys are more likely to be accepted at school or in the workplace. And a greater variety of unusual names given to a higher percentage of boys underpins values such as creativity and diversity.
There are lots of ways for names to be unique, from spelling to new creations, but here at Nameberry we’re often most inspired by those names which are at once unusual and yet filled with history and meaning. Here is a selection of our current favorites, including boys’ names that are Biblical, mythological, international– and simply wonderful:
By Sarahbeth Caplin
First day of fourth grade: the teacher takes attendance with strict efficiency. Since my last name begins with C, I am the fifth student called. “Sarah Caplin?” I raise my hand. By the time she gets to the end of the list, it is apparent that Sarah is the female name of choice: there are four Sarahs in our class of a dozen students, which Mrs. F thinks is hilarious. She places us all at the same table: Sarah K, Sarah M, Sarah W, and myself. It was not the first time I had to be differentiated by my last initial, and it wouldn’t be the last.
And dammit, I was already tired of it.
My parents told me, “We just liked the name; we had no idea it was so popular.” It never occurred to them that giving me a name from the Bible with timeless appeal (why else do so many women have it?) and no pronunciation problems in the English-speaking world would be such a burden to me. As an adult introvert, I’m okay blending in, but Childhood Me was the opposite. How could I stand out with a classic baby name shared by so many?
By Aimee Tafreshi
In our modern world, how do you determine the perfect baby name for your offspring? TV characters, nature words, place names, superheroes—not many inspirations are off-limits when it comes to thinking of names. Many parents cut through the slush pile by leaning on tradition or personal preference. Yet, not surprisingly, there are names that remain insanely popular each year, and the poured-your-heart-and-soul-into-it pick that sounded so original suddenly blends in like vanilla with the masses.
For those seeking a new twist, I have picked some of the most popular girls’ names from the Social Security Administration’s list and offered some alternatives that tend to be overlooked. . Some may share the same first letter or sound with the original name inspiration, while others may simply evoke a similar vibe or impression.
If you’ve read a book by the great Toni Morrison, chances are you’ll remember some of her characters’ names. From vivid nicknames to evocative biblical names, it’s easy to believe there’s a story behind each one.
Morrison’s novels tell of African-American communities, from the time of slavery to the present. One of the issues she explores is the loss of African Americans’ identities and heritage, and how to reclaim them. Names play a huge part in this, as you might expect.
Change a person’s name, as slave owners did, and you take away their identity and cut them off from their ancestors. Once that connection is lost, how do free African Americans get it back? Should they accept the names they have been given, or choose their own names and forge a new heritage?
This past September, we paid our respects to some of Hollywood’s greatest stars and marveled at a visionary’s dreams of the stars. Let’s have a look back at some of the big names in the news – and a look into what the origins of their names can illuminate about them.
Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a Catholic saint this month. St. Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxihu. Anjezë is the Albanian form of Agnes, anticipated her spiritual calling: It’s Greek for “holy” or “pure.” St. Teresa chose her religious name after the 19th-century French nun Thérèse de Lisieux.
Some think Teresa comes from the Greek for “harvest” or “huntress.” Others think it is from the Greek Thera, the name of some volcanic islands in the Mediterranean. The story goes that the wife of St. Paulinus of Nola (354-431 AD) was born on one of those islands and so took her name from them. The origin is unclear, but Teresa is a well-traveled name – fitting for St. Teresa, who made her impact far and wide.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has made headlines by protesting the pre-game National Anthem over racial inequality. Many athletes have followed suit, which some consider a victory for Colin’s cause. Victory indeed: Colin is a French pet name for Nicholas, a Greek name that literally means “victory-people.” The Greek word for – and goddess of – “victory” is nike, which lives on in the athletic brand.
Acting legend Gene Wilder sadly passed away this month. Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder took Gene, a short for Eugene, after Eugene Gant, a character in a Thomas Wolfe novel, and Wilder after writer Thornton Wilder. Eugene is from the Greek Eugenios, “well-born” or “noble.” Jerome, meanwhile, is from the Greek Hieornymos, “holy name.” Gene Wilder came from a humble background, but as many remembrances made clear, he was a class-act as an artist and person. And his name will surely be long “worshiped” by his many fans.