Gossip Girl (and Boy) Names
In a desperate attempt to bond with the teenagers in my family, I have become a devoted watcher of Gossip Girl. And as I take in the adventures of these upper-crusty New York teens, I can’t help but ruminate on their names.
No fewer than five of the actors with major roles have names that are eighties-style upwardly-mobile surname-names, perfectly in tune with the style of the show:
(For the uninitiated, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor are girls, Chace and Penn are boys.)
Two other actors have names in the same vein, but not quite as stereotypical:
Other names that fit this mold, now more commonly heard on twenty-something interns and junior editors and gallery assistants than on babies, include:
The idea of these names was to impart a veneer of upper class style by appropriating a tony-sounding surname as a first. While the 1980s was one heyday of this trend, it wasn’t the first. Immigrant parents in the 1920s U.S. used British surnames for their sons in order to make them sound classy. Unfortunately, by now, these names sound anything but:
The use of the classy-sounding surname-as-first, for girls and for boys, is only getting more pervasive today. Some newer examples
FINLAY and FINLEY
REAGAN and REGAN
SKYLAR and SKYLER (and even the original SCHUYLER)
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on June 14th, 2010 at 9:44 am
Taking from the long-held WASP tradition of using the mother’s surname as a first, this naming style seems a bit false to me, and reeks of social climbing. I do love Gossip Girl though!
Pamela Redmond Satran Said
on June 14th, 2010 at 10:24 am
You said it, Pippa. It DOES mimic the WASP style of using a family surname as a first….though these may not be real family surnames.
on June 14th, 2010 at 10:49 am
While I’m not a big fan of the surname as fn push, I do like some of the names that fall into the category (Marshall, Irving, and a personal favorite, Jarvis)… And I could definitely respect an actual family name handed down.
Although I’ve never seen GG, it sounds as though they could easily do a spin-off set in the 80s with names pulled from their cast. Maybe I’d watch that?
on June 14th, 2010 at 10:53 am
I went to school with an Ainsley, a Quinn, an Everett, a Logan, a Preston and a Regan who are all in their 30s. We all grew up in Oklahoma, too! Because of those examples, the surname-name sounds dated to me.
on June 14th, 2010 at 8:19 pm
The problem with a lot of surname names is that I can find a city, town or street with that same name. Since most people are going to associate the name with that (most especially if you live there) I would shy away from them.
In my area of the world there is a Kennedy and a Jarvis. There are also ties to other Cities and Towns there too. I couldnt imagine people seeing a name on a paper and wondering if it is a person or place.
There was a little boy on my street named Mason Lane. Is it a street? Town or person?
on June 15th, 2010 at 1:16 am
I’ve become a little addicted to the show, I will admit. 😀 I am not a fan of the surname trend for girls, and was surprised how the three main female characters all had names in that style (Blake, Leighton, Taylor). There are some nice names on the show though: Serena, Georgina, Eleanor, and Lily. The boy’s names are decent too: Dan(iel), Nate (Nathaniel), Charles (Chuck), even Bartholomew…
Anna Grace Said
on June 24th, 2010 at 4:00 pm
Rufus is also a nice name. 🙂
on June 28th, 2010 at 7:55 am
Thank you for this article- it has answered a question I have had for a long time but it seemed nobody else ever found it unusual: why so many Americans choose names such as Taylor and Mackenzie for their children. This practice always seemed alien to me as a European, where using a masculine sounding British surname on a baby girl is unusual. It seems Americans don’t even realize that they are originally surnames. That said, I do like some of them myself. It makes more sense now so thank you!
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.