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Mormon Baby Names: Traditions and trends

by Hildie Westenhaver

Maybe it’s because we’re kind of different to begin with that Mormons love oddball baby names. We’re taught from day one to be “in the world but not of the world” and that apparently applies to the way we name our kids as well. While this holds true to Mormons all over the U.S, you’ll find the most outlandish baby names in the intermountain West: Utah and southern Idaho in particular. I have met children named Wrangler, Smokey, Mersadie, Corporate (for a girl), Maverix, Jenedy, Silver, Xacian, Versailles, Rafter, and—I kid you not—R2.

But Mormons still want to fit in, hence the popularity of names that sound normal, but whose spellings are anything but: Payzlee, Djaryd, Jaymz, Myrical and Jrake.

Even among Utah baby names, though, there are trends. Boys’ names lean heavily towards two syllable names ending with –er, –en and –ton. While mainstream names like Jayden remain popular, it’s really better to pick something a little more unusual. Truxton perhaps? Decken, Nyler, Kyson, Teyton, Zyker, and Trusen have all been chosen for babies recently.

Girls’ names almost always have a letter y in them somewhere. Mormons love the letter y. Which explains the popularity of names that end with –ley (or more commonly –lee or –leigh), and names that end with –lyn: Kyzlee, Oaklyn, Tynslee, McCartlyn, Avonlie, Chandley, Skylynne. and Chasidee. Let’s not forget other girls’ names like Drakelle, Ezrie, Aubrielle, Swayzee, Taizel, Cambria, and Alivian.

Surnames-as-first-names are extremely popular for both boys and girls. But why give your child a normally spelled name when you can give her one spelled like (almost) nobody else’s? Hence the popularity of Anistyn, MaCade, Ramzy, Awstyn and Paedyn

The biggest and most obvious question when you hear names like this is why? Why on earth would somebody name a baby Serandipidee? Tradition is the most obvious answer. These oddly-named babies are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of DaLynns, Cloydeans and LaVerls. As I said before, we Mormons are used to being a little bit different, and it’s been this way for a long time.

The age of the parents is a big factor as well. To Mormons, nothing is more important than having a family and we tend to get married and have kids earlier than our non-Mormon counterparts. Imagine the baby names you liked when you were fifteen. Kind of different from your taste at age thirty, right? If you’re having a baby at age twenty, your taste will be a lot closer to a teenager-y sort of name than something an older, better-educated set of parents might pick. The name Eleanor might sound old and fusty to a young person but Zaylie sounds fresh and fun.

Even among Mormons, though, class and education have a lot to do with it. You’re not going to find many college professors with a baby named Stryder. The last two babies born in my congregation were named Jane and Mary. So not every LDS person is going bonkers with baby names—but not coincidentally, Jane and Mary both have parents with PhD’s.

Whether you like these names or think they’re preposterous, they’re a part of Mormon culture. I might roll my eyes every time a cousin posts info about her new baby on Facebook (“Rope??? They named their baby Rope?! I know they like Rodeo, but come on!”) but it’s part of my cultural identity.

Hildie loves baby names so much she’s had six children in order to use all her favorites. She’s an avid hobbyist and is proud to call Texas home.

 

 

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19 Responses to “Mormon Baby Names: Traditions and trends”

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janeseemore Says:

January 11th, 2015 at 11:55 pm

I’ve always thought this video was both accurate and hysterically funny: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BfIehCrO4Zs

rainydaygarden Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 3:33 am

I recently met a Mormon girl named Fawn. 🙂

skateblinder Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 7:34 am

Mildly judgmental, don’t you think?

augusta_lee Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 10:01 am

I always know when I’m reading a Mormon mommy blog, even before clicking the oh-so-discreet hyperlinks to LDS.org slipped into every other post–the names always give it away. Kynzlee, Londyn, Brooklinne, Ryker, Stryker, Decker, Rekker…oy vey.

theroadtohere Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 10:13 am

I wouldn’t call her post judgemental at all-it’s the truth, lol. This is judgemental: to me most of those names are horrific, and I’m so glad my Mormon friends who have kids were nice enough to give them biblical names instead of creative ones. But that’s just me. 😉

HarderToBreathe Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 10:34 am

All my Mormon friends have normal, not kre8tiv names like Emily, Kathryn, Kelsey, etc. But the kre8tiv trend is definitely a problem, across all cultures.

CaitlinBrittin Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 11:00 am

I live in Utah and this is 100% true! I know girls with names included in this article and from the video posted by @janeseemore above. Other names I know personally are Adelvade, Maury-Elle, Janessa, NiKia, IndyAnna, Presslie, Brinleigh, Camarella, Rockelle, Kyndell, and Duvet (yes, like the blanket).
One family I know has Shanille, Shaysi, Jazzlynn, Kinzli, and they’re currently expecting another girl, cant wait to see what hilarious name they come up with for her!

I think growing up hearing all these crazy names with unique spellings is why I tend to like ‘boring’ names like Margaret !

janeseemore Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I actually think Utah has an interesting mix of great names and horrifyingly bad names. The top 100 for the state has plenty of lovely classics. Just look at how popular Jane and Eliza are in Utah.

I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, which is sort of infamous for terrible names. The local college (BYU-Idaho) is home to lots of very young parents, so I assume that has a tremendous influence on local naming trends.

One of my favorite things is the following annual round-up of, um, INTERESTING names from the Rexburg area: http://jessica-jensen.blogspot.com/p/baby-names.html

clairels Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Judgmental? This blog post was remarkably tolerant and even-handed compared to some of the commenters above me. The author intelligently addresses the cultural considerations that go into choosing these names.

Meanwhile the commenters jump into declare Mormon names “horrifying,” “horrific,” “terrible,” “hilarious,” “hysterical,” and “a nationwide problem.”

Stay classy (or is that klassy?), Nameberry users.

milasmama Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 4:50 pm

“in the world but not of the world”? How sanctimonious.

chi1127 Says:

January 12th, 2015 at 10:51 pm

Interesting and informative. I’ve been a name nerd since before I was a teenager, though. So I can’t relate to the kre8tiv teenager taste in names. Otto and Lorelle would have topped my list back then, but that’s not so far off from Ansel and Estelle (current faves).

The Cultural Hall (A Mormon Show in podcast form) – Mormon News Report 13-January-2015 Says:

January 13th, 2015 at 7:40 am

[…] – we did NOT want a “Mormon name” for our kid. What’s a Mormon name? Well, Namegrabber.com has a thorough analysis of the types of names Mormons give their kids: “Maybe it’s because we’re kind of […]

Mormon Baby Names: Traditions and trends – LDS SMILE Says:

January 13th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

[…] Read more about Mormon Baby Names at Nameberry.com […]

skateblinder Says:

January 16th, 2015 at 8:21 am

Actually, this post is rather judgmental. As is the majority of these comments (many of which say, No! Not Judgmental! Oh and Mormon names are TERRIBLE”… Since when does Nameberry judge other peoples name choices – I thought this site was a place for discussion and debate, not name calling. Just a thought.

Janeathab Says:

January 19th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I remember moving to Utah when I was a teenager and finding a lot of unusual (to me) names–lots of La this or that and lots of Vs in names. And lots of names combined from mother’s and father’s names. And a knew a family who had twins–Kimberli and Bimberli. But to think Mormons are the only groups to have unusual names today simply isn’t true, although I’d admit there are a bunch of them. And there are lots of fads in names–always have been. All the plant names like Hazel and Mrytle in the early 20th century, for example. But I often wonder how those kids are going to feel when they are grown up. I like the idea of giving kids names with significant meanings that they can ponder as they grow up, so we used a lot of fairly standard mostly biblical first names and family names as second names–helps with genealogy. Some of my kids have been a bit more creative with their kids–I have one grandchild with a very interesting name and when I asked her father about it, telling him it sounded a bit like he’d been reading a southern Arizona map, he replied that he’d seen her middle name as a street name on a freeway exit! Oh, well. To each his own, as the old lady said when she kissed her cow.

mbitsko Says:

January 19th, 2015 at 7:57 pm

I don’t know how Mormons do things in Texas, but I’ve lived in Utah for 50 years and, with the exception of one old rancher named LaVerl, I’ve never known anyone of any age with any of the names cited in this article, or any names resembling them.

Utah Mormons are pretty conservative about baby-naming.

Melissadeborah Says:

July 2nd, 2016 at 9:43 pm

I’m from Utah.. Utah county, where most of us LDS (Mormons) are, and I rarely hear people using these names or anything like them. Most people I know, which includes a huge group of young moms, use names on trend like Jackson, Hazel, Charolette, Eve, Liam, Carter, etc. I have never understood why we get labeled as naming our babies weird names. I had my first child six years ago before Rowan was popular and that’s what I named him and I was 19.

I personally don’t think the article was rude except for the part that talked about how younger people are less educated and pick different names because of it. We may have babies young but that doesn’t mean we are less educated.

A Stranger is just a Friend you Haven’t Met Yet – Site Title Says:

December 20th, 2016 at 9:17 pm

[…] Fun fact while finding common Mormon names to give Joseph and Zaylie for this pos – Mormon’s love oddball baby names.Check it out!  […]

Brinnlee Brielle Anderson and other Great Utah names – Zion Curtain Says:

February 4th, 2017 at 5:02 pm

[…] weird trend continues with today’s generation, and they get even more weird. Here is another article that touches on this very […]

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