Being a name nerd used to be hard work.
Do you remember paging through lists of Olympic medalists in the paper, gazing at name plaques in art museums, seeking out family trees in history books at the library? Did you know exactly which days the local paper ran birth announcements?
Then you must be a thirty-something or better name nerd.
I borrowed my mother’s only baby name book and kept it on my bookshelf, between Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. I read it obsessively, even the small print listing nicknames and foreign variants. That long lost book is where I fell in love with Libby and Nan, Katrinka and Alexei.
So many stories about twenty-first century baby naming trends are dismissive. They claim parents are trying too hard for their children to stand out and be unique.
Maybe that happens some of the time, but to me it seems straightforward.
With access to all of these fabulous names, why wouldn’t we consider a wider range of possibilities?
I routinely discover new names, and I don’t mean a forty-seventh way to spell Mackenzie. They’re not really new – they’re just too obscure to have been published in baby name books or listed in other sources up until now.
Three of the newsworthy baby names in this week’s list rank in the US Top 1000. Three are familiar, but still very rare. And three are completely, absolutely brand new, at least to me.
Liv – Rumor has it that this is a top possibility for the Kimye baby if it’s a girl. Liv is a great name, with ties to modernScandinavia and the mega-popular Olivia. She’s also a sophisticated, tailored name. Is the famous couple capable of such restraint?
Bright – I’m addicted to Design Mom’s Living With Kids series, partly for the gorgeous interiors, partly for the inventive names. This week’s installment introduced us to a mom called Sunshine and her daughter, Bright. The stylish, Southern family currently makes their home inTennessee.
Chapel – She’s Sunshine’s second daughter, a little sister for Bright. It’s a daring choice, but I think Chapel works. Her sound is lovely, and the meaning – sanctuary – puts Chapel in the company of modern virtue choices like Haven, Harbor and Shelter.
Decker – The last member of this week’s Living With Kids family is a son called Decker John. Decker is another name that works. He’s an occupational surname for a roofer or builder. It’s a strong, distinctive choice, but not an outlandish one.
Rekker – Then we come to Cam Gigandet’s new baby boy, Rekker. Yes, Rekker. Cam and his fiancée Dominique Geisendorff are also parents to daughter Everleigh Rae. It’s true that Recker has some history of use as a surname and also a short form of Richard. Plus, he fits with modern surname favorites like Ryder and Ryker. But if I wereCam and Dominique, I’d pause before I handed the car keys to a kid called Rekker.
Radley – Rekker’s middle name is another story. Radley is a place name, yet another surname borrowed from an English village. Like Bradley without his B, he brings to mind Boo Radley, putting him in the company of Atticus, Harper and Scout. He’s modern but not invented, and preppy but not too buttoned-up.
Maverick – Is Top Gun playing at a theater near you? Nope, it isn’t a remake. The original 1986 smash hit has been re-released in 3D. Tom Cruise’s call sign has caught on for boys over the past two-and-a-half decades. His character’s name, Pete, has languished. Renewed attention in the flyboy flick could help Maverick soar even higher.
Jacoby – Did you watch Super Bowl XLVII? Ravens player Jacoby Jones made some spectacular plays. His full name is Jacoby McLean – his parents were definitely on the leading edge of the surnames-as-names trend. The name has reached a plateau in recent years, but the football champ could give Jacoby a boost.
Solene – File her under “random finds via Namberry tag cloud.” She doesn’t rhyme with Jolene. Instead, she’s so LEHN. She’s related to Saint Sollemnia, a ninth century French shepherdess. Sollemnia is better known as Solange, but this variant seems like a rare gem – my very favorite kind of name to find.
Do you think having access to such a wide range of choices makes naming our children easier? Harder? If you named your kids pre-internet explosion, do you think you’d make different choices today?