The Nameberry 9: Back to Basics?

Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel wonders if maybe we’re overthinking the naming process, and in this week’s The Nameberry 9 she gives some examples of celebs who have gone back to basics.

Has it really become harder to name a child?

It seems to be the theme in recent days.  Over at Offbeat Mama, Caitlin wrote about her struggles to name – and eventually rename – her youngest child.  The New Zealand Herald reported the same thing, noting a 12% increase in parents filing to legally change a child’s name prior to his or her second birthday.

My maternal grandparents named their first three children in accordance with family and cultural custom.  My dad’s mom, undecided, pulled his middle name out of a hat.  As for my parents, they felt no obligation to honor anyone, and chose short, peppy, upbeat names for their three daughters – until along came a son, and suddenly, family names mattered.  If any child ever went nameless for months, or if aunts were divided over accusations of name theft, I’ve never heard the tale.

Could it be that we’re over-thinking it?  This week’s parents seem to have chosen some pretty mainstream names, even in a world when anything is possible.  At the same time, it takes an awful lot to brand a name bizarre – even extremely different choices like Apple and Pilot have their defenders.

The nine newsiest names of this week would be at home in any nursery in the English-speaking world:

Finnegan – It’s the name Caitlin and her partner eventually settled on for their youngest, after many months of consideration.  A friend had asked them not to use it, and they fretted that it might not match their older kids’ names, but the couple ultimately decided that it was simply the only choice that would suit.

Charlotte – Two newborn girls named Charlotte made headlines this week.  Bachelor and Bachelorette alum Jen Schefft and her husband Joe Waterman welcomed daughter Charlotte Grace, a little sister for Mae Elizabeth.  Meanwhile in England, the late Princess Di has a new niece and a namesake.  Her brother, Charles Spencer has welcomed a seventh child, a daughter called Charlotte Diana.

Marnie MaeWhile we’re in the UK, did you hear about Tamzin Outhwaite’s new daughter?  Tamzin – I do truly love her name! – and husband Tom Ellis now have two girls, newborn Marnie Mae and big sis Florence ElsieMarnie feels at home with all of those nickname-names currently in vogue in England: Charlie and Alfie and Evie.  She’s more of a stretch in the US, though with names like Sadie and Hattie in the spotlight, never say never.

Beatrice JessicaOne last check-in from London, this time with an Olympic twist.  Expectant parents Henry and Emily Lee planned to watch Olympic hopeful Jessica Ennis win gold for Great Britain in the heptathlon.  Ennis delivered – but so did Emily!  Instead of sitting in the stands, they were meeting their new daughter, named Beatrice Jessica in honor of Ennis’ achievement.

Bolt – Could Jamaican track and field champ Usain Bolt inspire parents to give their sons his surname?  Bolt Jackson sounds like a figure right out of a comic book, but he’d fit right in with Nameberry’s popular Badass Baby Names list, a brother for Dash, Flash, and King.

LeoA more subtle, but still commanding choice, was the right name for Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford’s firstborn.  It’s a great summer name for a boy.  Dad and baby both share a middle – the enduring James.

Autumn – From summer to fall, Hollywood veteran Gary Busey is a granddad.  His son Jake is a new dad.  Daughter Autumn Rosalia arrived July 30.  Autumn’s not the only one in the family with a seasonal appellation.  Mom’s name is April.

DelilahActor Patrick Fabian and writer wife Mandy Steckelberg also added a daughter to their family.  Delilah Grace joins Abbey Ray at home.

Camden Kristin Cavallari is the first of The Hills crowd to start a family.  She and Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler are parents to Camden Jack.  Lest you dismiss Camden as a crazy Hollywood name, check out his stats.  Camden ranked #160 in theUS last year, suggesting that we’ll be meeting many more boys by the name.

Did you find it difficult to name your children?  Do you think it has gotten harder to name a child in recent years?


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


14 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: Back to Basics?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

acawood Says:

August 12th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I agree that things seem to be getting more complicated. I’ve been somewhat baffled lately that in the forums, so many parents are worried not just about the popularity of a name, but the potential popularity of names that are currently ranked in the 200 and 300 on the SSA list in the US. Not only does it seem like you have to worry about current standings, but now parents are trying to predict the future. Talk about pressure!

LJandRL Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 3:30 am

For the record, Tom Ellis actually has an older daughter from a previous relationship who lives in my small town, so Tamzin Outhwait’s step-daughter. Her name is Nora. I think the 3 sisters make a lovely trio, Nora, Florence and Marnie 🙂

stairwaytoastar Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 7:44 am

My grandmother had her first child, a son, in 1948. She and my grandfather could not think of a name. They waited until the very last day to register the baby’s name, and they still could not decide. My grandfather got annoyed and simply wrote down his own name on the certificate. But in the following weeks or months, they decided on the name Kenneth. So my uncle is always known as Ken, but his birth certificate says Edwin. 😛 Even in 1948, there were those that found it easy and those who struggled to name a child. I think it just depends on your outlook.

littlemissmariss Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 8:57 am

I think people make it harder on themselves when it comes to naming. They feel like they just have to chose names that are ‘unique’ and unpopular. They think there will be a slew of children with the same name confusing people whenever they call out the name. But in all reality, a popular name now isnt nearly as popular as a long time ago. Mary would have been EVERYWHERE back in its day, yet Sophia’s would be very familiar but not seven in one room. I dont understand why people feel such a problem with using popular names, they are popular for good reason 😉 i think some people rely on others opinions way to much as well. Instead of just choosing that name they really love, the let others opinions sway them and end up regretting their name choice.

Personally, when I am expecting, the name process will be solely between me and my man. I might let a couple of people in on our choice, but only the people we’re super close to and know wont trash talk any choices. And I know that we’ll use a name, mainatream or not, all depending on us adoring the name <3

Flick Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 9:44 am

I think that being a name nerd has made it way more difficult to choose a name. When I was pregnant with my son, nothing seemed good at all, I ended up letting his father choose the name and now I regret it and now that I may have more children in the near future, I’m always over thinking and second guessing things – I think that with the internet and the ability to discuss and easily find new names has made things harder than easier, now there are too many options.

Not that I’m complaining. 😉

Mara_lyn86 Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I agree with littlemissmariss. I wish that I did not care as much about popularity, it should be more about if you like the name and can picture a little child with that name and say that name for the rest of your life. I would hate choosing a name I didn’t like as much as a name I did like that was more popular. I agree that sometimes we over think on baby names and just want to be a step ahead of everyone else, especially on this site. I notice that a lot of people on here want to be ahead of the general population by choosing names that are common in England because England is usually a few years ahead. I know I have fallen prey to that. I want to avoid following certain name trends, but sometimes it is impossible because the nice names fall into the name trends.

It is also impossible to pick a legitimate name that no-one else has ever used.

I think it is also hard when you pick a name that you love and are set on but you keep looking and get your heart set on another name. It is good to search for different names, but if you have a name that you love I think you should stick to it if at all possible.

One thing that I notice is the trouble that people have with finding names to go along with their other children’s names, or sib sets. That is okay if you want a general theme but I think some take it to the extremes. Just my opinion though.

southern.maple Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I do think that today’s parents make naming far more complicated than it should be. It seems that with the Internet, parents are exposed to too many options and hyper aware of what is trendy, popular, cool, etc. Because our society places such an emphasis on “being an individual” and such, we simply can’t have a name that would blend in or be perceived as trendy or not unusual enough! I think it is sad, really, that names now tend to be chosen more to show off the parents’ style and individuality instead of being chosen because they are meaningful and/or genuinely loved by the parents.

Abby Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

@southern.maple – I agree! Sometimes it is the names like Elizabeth and James that are really freeing. We don’t have any expectations attached to those names, not like, say Blue and Rufus.

@LJandRL – Thanks for that addition – and what a lovely trio of names!

@stairwaytoastar – What a great story!

@acawood – The crystal ball gazing can get really old. “Which will be more popular in five years, Ezra or Abel?” Ummm …

@Mara_lyn86 – I agree about naming siblings, especially when there’s a gap in years. Our second child would have a different name if she were, say, 18 months younger than our firstborn. Instead, she’s almost four years younger. It would be even harder if we had another today …

Sachiko Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 7:25 pm

well, if it weren’t for fanatical baby-naming, where would Nameberry be? 🙂

I imagine Berries have the same problems picking names that interior designers have picking fabrics. When you have made a hobby of it–for me, it’s nearly a self-defining one–then you HAVE to have an amazing name, so you’ve got something to show for all those hours spend with a baby name book in one hand and a highlighter in the other.

I have had a terrible time with sibling naming (I’m struggling to name #8). My husband talked me off the ledge by reminding me I don’t dress my kids alike, and I don’t expect them to have the same favorite foods, or even to like the same books, so why would their names need to go together, as though they were a collection of lovely pets instead of individuals?

But the temptation for a matched set with which to impress other namers with….oooo…

I still stand by choosing unusual names. My first name is a 1980’s Top 10, and my married last name is very common. Not only are there other people in the doctor’s office waiting room with my name, causing constant confusion (“which one are they calling back?”) but I’ve even been unable to get a library card before without adding my unique Japanese middle name to the mix to differentiate me from the 4 other women in my town with my exact same name.

My children will NEVER have that problem. 😀

Alana20 Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 3:13 am

I like the name Charlotte and Autumn from that list.

Taz Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 9:32 am

I LOVE Marnie so much! It was on my list when I was pregnant. Along with Marla.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

August 18th, 2012 at 12:21 am

When I saw Charlotte picked for Charles Spencer, I thought, “Well now Charlotte is off the table if Will and Kate have a girl”.

The Nameberry 9: Over-the-top baby names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 27th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

[…] week Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel finds some extreme examples in the Nameberry 9 and ponders […]

iwillpraise Says:

September 26th, 2012 at 7:37 am

I think the problem is more that you get tired of hearing a popular/overused name over and over and over again. It causes associations to the name which would have otherwise been unknown to you….this is my problem exactly. Either my husband has a bad association, or a name I once adored has become commonplace and I’m just tired of hearing a multitude of children with the same name because no one could think of anything different. That’s the way it seems at least. And if we are identifying problems, I think that AFTER using your ultimate favorite appellation, it becomes more challenging because everything else pales in comparison…that is, until you find your next perfect name!

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.