by Clare Green
Celebrity baby names: (sort of) breaking the pattern
Just when you think you’ve got Michael and Nicole Phelps’ name style pinned down, they go and surprise you. After their first son Boomer (Boomer!) Robert, they choose a relatively mainstream name for their second, Beckett Richard. We thought they might continue the B-R initial theme for their third child, but they’ve ditched that and gone back to a bold word name, plus another classic middle name that looks like a nod to mom. Welcome to the world, Maverick Nicolas!
Favorite freshman names
As a new academic year begins, how about a look at the most popular names for college freshmen? As you’d expect, there’s a close correspondence to the most popular names 18 years ago. Overall, the top names for new students are Matthew and Emily, both #3 in 2001. But different institutions have their own name profiles. At the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the most common names are conservative for their year group, like Anna and Kevin. Meanwhile at a Buddhist liberal-arts college, the only name repeated in the year group is the Japanese Haruka.
International Baby Names: German and Austrian, current and vintage
Did someone say conservative? For the 13th(!) year in a row, Anna is the most popular girl name in Austria. But there’s a new number one for boys: Paul takes the lead over last year’s favorite, Maximilian.
While many Austrian parents are choosing names that are internationally popular, there are plenty in the Top 60 alone that you might not have considered, such as Leonie, Melina, Fabian and Lorenz. For hardcore data-lovers, there’s also a really cool map of national and local trends.
Across the border, let’s take a trip down memory lane in Germany, to the most popular names between 1890-1918. That’s prime territory for hundred-year-rule revivals, and there are quite a few that might appeal to English speakers looking for something that’s vintage but a little different, like Minna, Frieda, Arno and Emil.
Names in translation: Indian and Irish
There’s an app for everything, or so it seems – including finding out the Irish version of your name. The Gaelic Names app is a fun way to reinvent yourself (oh hi, I’m Clár Uí Uaine), but before you rush to change your passport, bear in mind that the creator freely admits he made up some of the gaelicizations. And some names just aren’t translatable. For example, Nevaeh comes out of the app unchanged – although as the Irish for heaven is neamh, surely it should be Hmaen?
If you want to save your children the trouble of translating their name into Irish, you could just give them an Irish baby name from the get-go.
On a different note, another reminder that how we say people’s names matters. This essay by Revati Thatte is about how it feels to grow up with two pronunciations of your name: a “white” one and a “brown” one.
Names off the map and the menu
Would you use a place name for your child? Inspiration could come from the other side of the world, or much closer to home, as with the 74 Malaysians in Malaysia named Malaysia. (Here’s more about one of them, who has sisters named Mayday and Mardeka.) But that’s nothing compared to the thousands of American girls with the name Malaysia. A reality TV star gave the name a boost from 2011 onwards, and now it sits in the Top 500.
If not the map, how about naming your baby after your favorite hot drink? In a recent survey, over a third of people said they’d be willing to name their kid Pumpkin Spice to get a free lifetime supply of the seasonal beverage. I mean… it’s better than Gingerbread or Eggnog…
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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