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Would You Name Your Kitten Kevin?

Would You Name Your Kitten Kevin?

Pet names are becoming more human. A recent article in The Atlantic highlighted this trend, spotlighting people who gave their pets names such as Lorenzo, Winnie, and Baby Jeff.

It's true that many pets receive human names, but not all human names are equally embraced for dogs and cats. Why is Louie a popular pet name, but Liam is not? Are there really more pets named Karen than Kinsley?

We've identified three distinct types of human names given to pets, along with why they're so trendy.

Human Nicknames for Pets

The trend of using people names for pets picked up steam in the Victorian Era. At this time, dogs (not yet cats) became considered members of the family, deserving of human-like names.

Victorian pet owners chose the cutest human names for their most adorable family members — nickname names.

Nicknames, which convey a close relationship with the bearer and suggest adorable, babyish qualities, were the most common choices for dogs, rather than popular baby names of the era. Fanny and Nellie were among the most popular nicknames for female dogs, while Jack and Ernie were common for males.

This trend persists today among dogs and cats, although different nicknames make the popularity charts. Names that end in an -ie or -y sound are particularly common, as they tend to be perceived as cuter than other choices.

Below, popular human nicknames for pets today:

Old Lady and Old Man Names for Pets

It's unclear exactly when old people names for pets became a prominent trend, but evidence suggests it arose in the late 20th century.

Why do we love old people names for pets? Much like nickname names, it's because they're cute. Some may be clunky-cool or geek chic, but these names have been out of circulation long enough that pet parents are willing to consider them for their adorable fur-babies (just not their real babies — yet).

There's a lot of crossover between old people names and human nicknames for pets — choices like Minnie and Millie, Frank and Hank are old-fashioned diminutives.

Here, popular old lady and old man names for pets:

Average Joe Pet Names

If nickname names and old people names for pets are cute, then generic people names for pets are decidedly anti-cute.

Average Joe pet names are the latest trend in people names for pets, chosen for their ironic and subversive qualities. How could you give such a cute little puppy a name like...Kevin?

And yet, Kevin is one of the most popular Average Joe pet names, ranking Number 70 (and rising) for cats. From the data that is out there, "normie" names is one of the fastest-rising pet name trends today.

While some of these names are approaching old-lady and old-man territory, most of these choices are associated with people in middle age — young Baby Boomers and Gen X. Their names are unlikely to be described as cute, which makes Average Joe names funny — and at one time unexpected — choices for dogs and cats.

Below, the up-and-coming Average Joe pet names:

About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top baby name trends of 2021, baby name synesthesia, and the top names in each state. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.