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Nickname Names: Birdie, Bobby and Bobby

and other baby name news

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes another starbaby Birdie, some nicely-named goats, and naming issues with siblings, cousins and pets.

Family nicknames: Birdie and Bobby

It looks like another Birdie is joining the flock! The chirpy vintage nickname is one that celebrities love perhaps a little more than average. Busy Phillips started the trend, followed by soap actress Maura West and wrestler Brie Bella. Now Jessica Simpson has announced that her daughter, due soon, will also be called Birdie, a family name.

The singer gave her older children names that were avant-garde at the time: her daughter is Maxwell Drewson and her son is Ace Knute. Birdie feels more gentle and gendered, but it’s a family name like her siblings, and it matches nicely in terms of being a rare-but-rising and not overly traditional.

Sticking with nicknames, there’s a new Bobby in the Kennedy clan. Robert F Kennedy III and his wife Amaryllis Fox welcomed their daughter Bobby earlier this month, adding to the roster of girls named after their dads. (And in this case, also grandfather and great-grandfather.) We once asked where you stand on this naming practice – what are your thoughts today?

…And it’s a double Bobby fest! MTV host Nev Schulman’s son Beau Bobby Bruce was born recently, with all three names honoring grandfathers. Nev and his wife made a stylish choice in Beau, a handsome name that looks destined for the Top 100, and I admire their “go big or go home” attitude to alliteration.

One more Beau spotted this week: the boy in this article who was named after the best buffet his parents ever ate at. Now there’s inspiration.

Popularity: not what it used to be

If you follow name trends over the years, you’ll probably be aware that the top-ranking names today aren’t given to as many children as the top names twenty, fifty or a hundred years ago. (Abby the Name Sage talks about this in her latest newsletter.) The reasons usually given are that modern parents have a larger, more diverse pool of names to choose from, and many are more aware of what’s popular (thank you, internet) and are looking for a name that’s more individual.

It’s certainly one of the main factors we consider when choosing a baby name: how popular is too popular?

This is happening through most of the English-speaking world – and it’s always interesting to see it in action in different areas. Here are animations showing how the numbers at the top of the charts have shrunk since 1980, and a commentary. They also reveal a bit of local flavor. Did you know that Cassandra and Cole have both been in the Alberta Top 20?

Goaty McGoatface and friends

Can we talk about goats for a moment?

Almost every week, if you search for baby names in the news you’ll find a zoo announcing – or searching for – the name of its newest baby animal. The latest story? Oklahoma City Zoo’s pygmy goats, as voted by the public, all named after local towns: Sayre, Ada, Idabel, Ripley, Checotah, and Prue. Most of them would be pretty good on a human kid, too.

Other recent animal names in the news include penguin chicks Pierogi and Toast in Cincinnati, Neelix the giraffe in Albuquerque (after a Star Trek character), and twin lambs in Australia – voting is still open! Their mother’s name is Lamby, so that sets the baaar high.

So what does all this show? (Apart from that animals are cute.) Naming is news. We rarely hear about other events in animals’ lives, but give them a name and it’s worthy of public interest, even if it’s a goat or a lamb.

Maybe it’s because names make things more relatable. To take a less pleasant example, it’s been said that the shooting of Cecil the lion in 2015 would not have been so newsworthy if he had been an anonymous lion. And if there’s a poll, we want to see what the winner was. Zoos have cottoned on to the fact that asking for votes on names makes for great engagement and publicity – with a few limits so they don’t end up with a name like Mister Splashy Pants or Boaty McBoatface.

Diverse dilemmas

Finally, a few name quandaries from around the internet. Because naming a baby really can be complicated.

This puzzling case has been doing the rounds. A mother gave her daughter names that were the same as her friend’s children (or were they? There’s a twist!)…then ended the friendship over it.

Do older siblings get first dibs on family names? Do you need to run your decisions past them?  Dear Prudence answers a question on unexpected family reactions to a name announcement. (Scroll down to the second question on the page.)

If your baby-to-be’s sister and cousins all have names beginning with the same letter, do you keep the pattern going?

And the classic “baby name taken by a pet” situation! The author’s favorite name since forever is Jack. Her partner’s family cat? Also Jack. What would you do?

If you have a naming dilemma or question, bring it to the experts: try the wisdom of the Name Sage or the Nameberry forums.

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2 Responses to “Nickname Names: Birdie, Bobby and Bobby”

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beynotce Says:

January 24th, 2019 at 9:52 am

Gotta say, Bobby is not a name I love on either sex, but I do love that the Kennedys used it for their firstborn rather than “saving” it for a boy child. A subtle but strong way to express the fact that the parents value a daughter just as much as a son.

Merryweather Says:

January 26th, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Yes I like a daughter getting the name it’s very sweet and evolved. Congratulations to them all.

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