Category: Zoe

Children’s Book Names: From Aidan to Zoe

Baby Name Trends

While browsing through a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine, I came across an article about the current generation of picture books and their bratty protagonists.  It was illustrated by an image from a book called Finn Throws a Fit.  Aha, I thought, so juvenile authors are on top of current naming trends.  This impelled me to go running (figuratively) to my local Borders to seek further evidence.

One difference I noticed immediately was that there were more little human protagonists and fewer of the porcine (excluding Olivia), feline, canine, bovine, etc persuasion than there were in the past, and there were, as the article pointed out, a lot more angry children populating the pages, and a lot more preoccupation with poop and farts.

In terms of names, I was surprised to see that there was a book title containing almost every currently popular choice—almost as many as there are on the personalized pencils in the airport—a big upswing from the past.  Here are some titles all released since the turn of the century–and they’re just the tip of the iceberg!:


AVA and the Magic Tutu

CHLOE’S Snowy Day


CONSTANCE and the Great Escape

ELIZA and the Dragonfly

HARRIET, You’ll Drive Me Wild


My Name is Not ISABELLA

IVY and Bean

JUNIE B., First Grader

The Adventures of LAILA and MAYA

LILLY’s Big Day

Let’s Find LUCY

MAISY series

MERCY Watson series

Fancy NANCY series




When SOPHIE Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry

TALLULAH in the Kitchen


Goodnight, my sweet VIOLET

WILLA and the Wind, WILLA the Wonderful


ZOE‘s Tale, ZOE‘s Hats, ZOE and CHLOE on the Prowl


AIDAN’S First Full Moon Circle




DEWEY! There’s a Cat in the Library

DEXTER Gets Dressed

JAYDEN‘s Rescue

JULIUS, The Baby of the World

KYLE’s First Crush

LIAM Goes Poo in the Toilet

MILO series

MILTON’s Secret

OLIVER Who Would Not Sleep

OSCAR: The Big Adventure of a Little Sock Monkey



PHINEAS & Ferb series

Flat STANLEY series

WALTER the Farting Dog series

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Z Names: Beyond Zoe & Zachary

There were 10,000 Zacharys born last year and almost 5,000 Zoes, but that was about it for Z-starting names in the Top 100.  This doesn’t mean there aren’t  lots of other names with this distinctive initial worth considering, from the contemporary sounding Zayden to the ecclesiastical Zebediah.  Here’s a categorical breakdown:


ZELDA –The longest running American Z-girl, in the Top 1000 for most of the years from 1880 to 1967, the now dated sounding Zelda was long attached to the troubled wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, though that could change through its association with a Nintendo game character.
ZOE — Sharing mega-popularity with cousin Chloe, the Greek Zoe–which means life–is currently at #56, with offshoots ZOEY and ZOIE following behind. Though it sounds and feels modern, its use dates back to the third century.
ZARA –This name entered the mainstream in the early 1980s when England‘s Princess Anne bestowed it on her daughter.


ZACHARY –In the Top 100 for a quatrter of a century, peaking at #12 in 1994, Zachary is the one classic Z name. The English version of the Hebrew Zahariah, it also has historic cred via 12th President Zachary Taylor, and several coolizing spellings and short forms.

ZANE — One of the short, strong boys’ names zipping up the list, the cowboyish Zane was long associated with western writer Zane Gray–who was actually christened Pearl!!!

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baby name zooey

You’ve probably noticed that Aiden is now way more popular than the original Irish Aidan.  And also that Zoey is catching up with Zoe, while other names like Isiah, Kaleb, Camryn and Sienna are either ahead of or breathing down the necks of their conventionally spelled cousins.  Sometimes the reasons for these changes are clear-cut, sometimes it’s just something in the ether.

Not that this is a new thing.  I remember the first time that someone asked me to spell my first name.  “Huh?”  “Well, is it Linda with an ‘i’ or Lynda with a ‘y’?  Without my really noticing, Lynda had become a spelling alternative in the wake of  the popularity of Lynn.  Something similar has happened with Aidan/Aiden.  When the epidemic of rhyming ‘en’-ending names erupted–Jaden, Braden, Caden et al–it was a logical development to make Aiden a legitimate member of that family.  And when ‘K’-beginning boys’ names became a rage, Kaleb began pursuing Caleb up the list.

The case of Zoe/Zooey is a little different, as the spike of the latter version can be pretty much traced to a single phenomenon–‘Zoey101’–the Emmy-nominated teen sitcom starring (now teen mom) Jamie Lynn Spears, which appeared on Nickelodeon in 2005.  And the publicity surrounding Jamie Lynn’s big sister Britney’s second son helped spread that spelling of Brayden.  The rise of the British actress Sienna Miller spurred the spelling change of the Italian town of Siena, actress Jorja Fox legitimized the phonetic spelling of Georgia, and Gossip Girl hottie Chace (originally his middle name) Crawford has the spelling of his name chasing Chase.

In terms of image, rather than spelling, Scarlett Johansson challenged the long-term connection of her name to Gone With the Wind spitfire Scarlett O’Hara, just as the charms of Jude Law have managed to erase the age-old associations of his name to Judas.

More recently we’ve seen a couple of starbabies who might have some influence on the future spellings of names: Brooke Shield’s Grier (rather than Greer) and Angie Harmon’s Emery (rather than Emory).

Can you think of any others?

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Vivacious Names

Linda wrote last week on the question of whether a name’s meaning still means anything.  Maybe not so much, and yet several of today’s most stylish names mean “life”.  Eve and Eva, Aisha and Zoe, Liv and all forms of Vivian share the life-affirming meaning.

Even if parents aren’t searching for a name with a specific meaning, the fact that an attractive name carries an equally attractive meaning can only be a plus.  Beautiful, strong, graceful, intelligent, star: These are all great meanings that may support the appeal of a name.  But life may be the most powerful meaning of all.

If you like the life-affirming meaning and want a name a little further off the beaten track, here’s a short list of other options:











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