Category: Nick Turner
There’s no record of a single newborn named Dick in the United States last year.
In fact, there hasn’t been a baby Dick recorded in the U.S. during the past decade. (It last popped up in the Social Security Administration databanks in 2005.)
This is no shock. The name Dick was a casualty of modern slang and its association with a disgraced president. But Dick‘s disappearance is part of a broader trend: Americans have shifted away from many once-common nicknames.
With Pokémon, the Clintons and Crystal Pepsi back in the news, it’s the 1990s all over again.
So it seems like a good time to ponder names from that glorious decade. I don’t mean the most popular baby names (Michael and Jessica ruled the charts in those years). I’m talking about the cultural touchstones that defined the era: Arsenio, Sinead, Winona…names that sizzle with ’90s-ness.
Some of these monikers ultimately did become trendy baby names. Felicity climbed the charts after a show by that name hit the airwaves in 1998. But often not. There are zero kids named Urkel or Beavis or Butt-Head in the Social Security database over the past 30 years.
In any case, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane (in a red Mazda Miata, no doubt) to rediscover the ultimate 1990s names. This list might give you some inspiration for your 2010s baby.
For some parents, choosing a name is an opportunity for wordplay. They favor palindromes (words that are spelled the same way forward and backward) or try to pick sets of sibling names that are anagrams (meaning they contain the same letters).
My general philosophy with baby names is you should try to have fun but not too much fun. And that applies to riddles as well. Having twin girls named Isla and Lisa (anagrams) is playful without being too outrageous. Naming your kids Geneva and Avenge, meanwhile, would be harder to pull off.
Let’s start with my favorite naming trick: palindromes. This is a low-key way to add a little zip to your child’s name, and there are more than a dozen options to choose from.
It’s been said that history is written by the victors. But losers leave a legacy of their own.
That’s the case with U.S. presidential elections, in which fondly remembered statesmen often wind up as the runner-up — not the chief executive.
In an earlier column, I examined the names of American presidents (specifically, their surnames) and whether a candidate’s rise to power influences baby-name trends.
This time around I’d like to look at names of presidential losers.
Anyone who watches panda videos online (and what kind of monster doesn’t?) knows that the animals often have names with repeating syllables: Bei Bei, Gao Gao, Lun Lun and so on.
This is a popular naming convention in China, where pandas originate, and it’s undeniably cute. In France, they create diminutive names by adding an “-ette.” Spanish speakers may tack on an “-ita” or “-ito.” But in China, they’ve doubled down on doubling down.
Among U.S. babies, “reduplicated” names like Ling Ling and Tian Tian are uncommon. Still, there’s a fairly strong tradition of repeated-syllable names in English-speaking countries.