Taking Baby Names Seriously
The economic downturn has affected just about every aspect of American life, and that even extends to baby naming. We’ve noticed–and I don’t think it’s just among our enlightened readers–a definite change in attitude, away from trendiness and towards more solid, serious names. In other words, frivolousness is out, and substance is in.
With the President stressing the importance of our kids getting to college, many parents start to wonder–consciously or not–whether Caroline might just have some slight advantage in the acceptance process over Coco when her application to MIT is being considered, and if Charles might be considered a more serious prospect than Karrsen.
And it’s not just the timeless classics like James and Elizabeth which have never gone out of style that I’m talking about, but rather names that until lately were judged to be too solemn and serious and unbabyish and dated for consideration: dusty in-law — or grandparent –names like Murray and Marian. The baby namers of the recent past, who were calling their kids Ashley and Brittany, Madison and Montana, and on to Jayden and Caden, would probably have laughed or turned up their noses at most of the names below, seeing them as way too adult, starchy and uncool. But the times they are a-changing and the tide is turning, and these names have, in addition to a solid past, a foreseeable place on the kindergarten cubbies of the future.
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on April 9th, 2009 at 8:23 am
I love Eleanor and Walter! I know my older nephews and nieces have trendier names than my younger ones.
on April 9th, 2009 at 9:27 am
Edith, Florence, Penelope, Irene & Sylvie (not sylvia) re on my girls list! Arthur, George, Vincent (for Price!) & Harvey are on my boys list!
Kenneth charms me to pieces, wish he’d let me name a boy for him. I’m also really liking Cora (and her longer variations), Miriam, Conrad (I keep singing “We love you, Conrad!”) & Martin these days.
I’ve always thought like this, it’s nice to see the world catching up!
on April 9th, 2009 at 11:48 am
I love Theodore and would love to see that make a resurgence.
on April 9th, 2009 at 6:52 pm
Clara and Arthur are our top picks!!! That’s a little crazy. 😀
on April 9th, 2009 at 7:22 pm
I’d like to see Clara, Florence, Iris, Marian, Penelope, Rosalind make a comeback: they maybe serious but they have a bit of whimsy to them as well. Our someday future boy is going to be Charles but for other reasons. I also like Arthur, Clifford, George, Vincent. I think most of these names could be called sophisticated before they are called dowdy.
Emmy Jo Said
on April 10th, 2009 at 12:32 am
I, for one, would love to someday be writing Clara, Eleanor, Rosalind, Arthur, Kenneth, or Frederick on my children’s lunchboxes (or in the cubbies of my first grade students). You have quite a few of our top choices on here! But I don’t think my selections have anything to do with the economy — these names have been on my list for quite some time.
I agree with Peach that quite a few seem more romantic and whimsical than dowdy.
on April 10th, 2009 at 2:13 am
i must be so starchy and serious as edith, esther, iris, louise, olive, penelope and vivian are favs for girls; and charles, edward instead of edmund, fredderick, george, lewis and theodore are up high on my list
on April 11th, 2009 at 9:31 pm
Laura Wattenburg says, using actual statistics from naming during the great depression, blogged that:
names for boys will get exchanged for the cuter and more friendly (Theodore for Teddy). During the depression is was more of Jimmy over James, and Charlie over Charles.
Girls names will become glamorous, with many namesakes for the movie stars (like Scarlette, or Kiera). During the depression you would have seen Marlene or Carole.
on April 12th, 2009 at 1:13 am
I’m not so sure that what happened in the last Depression will necessarily repeat itself now — people’s attitudes towards baby naming has changed a great deal in the last 80 years!
on April 14th, 2009 at 11:21 am
Alicia – Clara and Arthur are our top picks, too!
on June 3rd, 2009 at 3:57 pm
We are seriously considering Sylvia; although we prefer the Shakespearean spelling Silvia. I’m not sure why this name hasn’t had a resurgence considering its familiar sound to Sophia; its meaning (of the forest); its romantic namesakes (Sylvia Plath, Rhea Silvia – the mother of Romulus and Remus); and if for no other reason, the absolutely to-die-for sonnet written for her by Mr. Shakespeare in Two Gentlemen of Verona:
Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.
Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness,
And, being helped, inhabits there.
Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.
How are we not swooning over this one?? 🙂
on September 26th, 2009 at 1:12 am
Vivian is a good name. Nice rhythm, love the v sound. Plus, I’d assume the meaning has to do with life? In a depression, that’s a great name meaning to have!
on August 3rd, 2012 at 9:24 am
Thank goodness this trend is returning.
on August 3rd, 2012 at 3:47 pm
I would use pretty much any of these names. My favorites for a girl are Helen, Irene, Iris, Miriam, Olive, Penelope, Rosalind and Silvia. For a boy, I adore Arthur, Charles, Conrad, Frederic, Solomon and Theodore. All of these names have been on our list at one point or another, at least as MN contenders.
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