City Baby Names and other newsy names

December 6, 2017 Clare Green

By Clare Bristow

City names for babies? Babies named after cities lead this week’s name news, which also includes the names of preachers and warrior queens, plus some new 2016 name data from Europe.

Super city names: Memphis, Valencia and Steel

Would you consider using a city name – maybe one with special meaning to you, or just a great sound? There’s so much variety, from obvious places names like London and Brooklyn to more subtle ones like Adelaide and Florence. Here are a few more examples from the news lately.

Memphis is an appropriately bluesy name for country singer Jason Aldean’s new son. It’s in the US top 700 and rising fast for boys. If you like the country place name vibe, you might also like Nash (as in Nashville), or Tennessee. Or if Memphis puts you more in mind of Egypt, you could consider Cairo or Alexandria.

Moving to European cities, one November babyberry was given the middle name Siena in honor of the Italian city, whilst British boxer Tyson Fury used a Spanish city name, Valencia, for his daughter. Place names are a family theme for them: Valencia’s big sister is called Venezuela and their mother is Paris.

Another option is to use a city’s nickname – like the Pittsburgh baseball player who called his son Steel. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is known as the Steel City after what used to be its main industry, hence its football team, the Steelers.)

This tough metallic name is still surprisingly uncommon: it was used for 52 boys in the US last year. With its strong meaning and association with Superman, Steel could be one to steal.

Inspired by Spurgeon

Remember Jessa Duggar’s son Spurgeon, born in 2015? As predicted, his name – honoring the Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon – hasn’t inspired many parents. Spurgeon didn’t chart in the US in 2016.

But the preacher’s second name, Haddon, has more potential. There’s at least one boy called Haddon in honor of him. Part-Hadley, part-Hayden, and only used 52 times last year (that’s the same as Steel), can you see this name catching on more widely?

Cosmopolitan classics

At this time of year, it’s only a matter of weeks until the first official 2017 name data from around the world starts to come out. Name lovers always have something to look forward to after the holiday season!

Until then, there are still a few countries releasing their 2016 stats, like…well, can you guess which country this is?

Their top 5 names (not grouped by spelling) are Anna, Emma, Marie, Lena and Sophia for girls, and David, Maximilian, Lukas, Tobias and Paul for boys.

If you guessed Austria, props to you! It may not be immediately obvious because some of these names are big across Europe and around the world – although a few might sound conservative to anglophone ears, like Paul and David.

If, like Austrian parents, you’re looking for a name that feels at home anywhere – maybe with a Germanic twist – their top names might inspire you.

Boo who?

If you love a grandiose name with a cute nickname, this one’s for you.

Overheard in a museum: a man calling his granddaughter Boo. On closer investigation, it turned out to be short for Boudicea! A variant of Boudicca, as in the British queen who led an uprising against the Romans, this might appeal if you’re looking for a grand name from ancient history. Neither spelling has ever charted in the US.

Even better, Boudicea’s middle name was Victoria. Both mean ‘victory’, so her name is literally a win-win situation.

Celtic namespotting: Jowan, Aeron and more

While we’re on Celtic names, I spotted a baby Jowan born in Cornwall recently. The Cornish version of John is on a tiny uptick in the UK, where it was used 28 times in 2016. In the US, Jowan is much rarer. It hasn’t charted for several years, but it could be a way to honor someone with a name in the John-family, or a nod to Cornish heritage.

Other lovely names from Celtic languages you might have spotted recently: Aeron in the latest babyberry announcements, and lots of these little-known girls’ names including Dorrin, Merrigan, and Zennor. That last one is a tiny Cornish village, which shows that size doesn’t always matter when it comes to picking a great place name.

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.

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