Name Popularity: The Nameberry 9–Ezra, Etta and June

Name Popularity: The Nameberry 9–Ezra, Etta and June

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel considers the impact of baby name popularity–does it sway our choices more than it should?

Lately I’m wondering: is all this talk about baby names changing the names we use?

A century ago, parents could draw inspiration from the newspaper, the Bible, literature, music, and anything on the family tree.  There was room for creativity, but actual data gathering would have been difficult.

Today a few keystrokes will tell you how many girls were named Isabella last year, or whether hundreds of random strangers think that Ethan Alexander is a good name for your son.  No wonder an expectant mom actually grimaced when I asked her if they’d chosen a name yet.

With all of this information, could it be that trends will accelerate?  Will we talk ourselves out of using great names?  I’ve heard of dozens of parents deciding against their top choice for fear that Stella is the next Ava. Or maybe they’re desperately searching for a name just like Logan, but much less popular, without actually being too unusual.

It can be done, of course, thanks to resources like Nameberry.  This week’s baby name news was full of names that seem like substitutes for the most popular choices.

On to this week’s nine newsiest names:

Etta – Television host Carson Daly and girlfriend Siri Pinter have welcomed a second child, Etta Jones. It’s a jazzy pick. Etta is a little sister for Jackson.  Name aficionados have been watching Etta, eager to see if she’s the successor to Emma and Ella.

JonesBaby Etta shares her middle name with dad.  It’s a common surname related to John, but unlike Jackson, Jones hasn’t been in the US Top 1000 since 1931.  Ends-in-s choices like Ames and Brooks have been popping up lately.  Could Jones and company be the next Carter, Tyler, and Hunter?

June – Nameberry put June on their list of hottest Classic Girls’ Names, and it is also the name of Design Mom’s youngest child.  Gabrielle Blair recently wrote about the process of settling on the names Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty, and June. I love the way she described the names they settled on for their children:  “A name with some history. A name our kids will discover as they get to know great books. … Whenever we were talking about names, I would imagine my kids as 80-year-olds, sitting at a card table playing canasta. If the name we were considering fit at the table, it got a green light.”

Ezra – Could Ezra be the next JacobElisabeth has a list of possible substitutes for Jacob, including Silas and Jonas.  I love her list, but can I just say that the name Jake remains one of my favorites?  The trouble with the Top Ten names is that they’re so widely used because they’re just such great choices.

Rufus – Did you see Swistle’s list of names that are too unusual for your family to use?  Her list is delightful, as are the comments.  Too bad that they’re the names that parents are planning to avoid.  I think the world could use a few more kids called Ivy, Cosima, Holland, Flynn, Louisa, and Thisbe.

Calliope – When they announced that the newest Kardashian was called Penelope, plenty of expectant parents started looking for something different-but-similar.  Maybe Calliope is just the thing. Baby Name Pondering makes a compelling case.

DaisyLily is in the Top 20, and that’s without counting all of the girls answering to Lilly and LilianaElea at British Baby Names covered the history of the fascinating floral name Daisy.  She’s certainly not uncommon, but if your neighbor, best friend, and co-worker just named their girls Lillie, Lillian, and Lilia, well … Daisy is a possibility.

Violet – Another botanical option, this time courtesy of baby namer extraordinaire,  Dixie Chick Emily Robinson.  Her new daughter is called Violet Isabel, a little sister for Julianna Tex**, Henry Benjamin, and Charles Augustus**.  Robinson has a knack for choosing names that are reasonably common but have a twist.

Isabel – For years, Elizabeth was a default middle name, the go-to name to pair with shorter choices from Amy and Ava.  Her cousin Isabel makes for a slightly unexpected choice.  She has all of Elizabeth**’s gravitas, but brings a lighter, more current feel to a name.  Just like Elizabeth, she works with nearly anything, from Violet Isabel to Emily Isabel, Ava Isobel, Lila Isabelle, June Isabel** …

Do you find yourself avoiding names just because they’re currently popular?  Or because it seems like they’re about to become popular?  If so, how popular does a name have to be before you start avoiding it?

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.