These Trendy Names Are More Traditional Than You Think!
The top baby name trends — think occupational names, unisex names, word names, and place names — are full of names that are relatively new to the baby name lexicon. Names such as Paisley, Maverick, Sawyer, Serenity, Grayson, and Kinsley are all in the Top 100, but have only been in use for a couple of generations at most. Many of these names only broke the Top 1000 after the year 2000.
Of course, there are the names that fall into these trendy categories that are much more traditional. Santiago is a historic place name, and Ruby is a word name that’s been in use since before the US started keeping baby name records in 1880.
But it isn’t always so easy to discern a name’s history. You may be surprised to learn that some hot names with contemporary sounds have been around for centuries (or even millennia). Here, twelve fashionable names with more history than you might imagine.
Trendy Names More Traditional Than You Think
Arlo — You’d be forgiven for thinking Arlo was a modern development, akin to the similar name Harlow. But Arlo’s roots are deep. Edmund Spenser created the name for a setting in his poem The Faerie Queen in the 16th century — Arlo’s use as a baby name can be traced back to that source of inspiration.
Carter — Occupational surname names are currently experiencing peak popularity, Carter included. While many have only recently crossed over into first name territory, Carter has been a fixture on the US Top 1000 since 1881. Carter G. Woodson, born in 1875, was the founder of Black History Month.
Chase — Chase picked up steam in the 1980s, along with other cool-guy names like Austin and Hunter. But evidence of Chase as a baby name far predates any of the others. In the 9th century A.D. a notable Byzantine official named his son Chase, a common Hellenization of the Arabic name Hasan.
Isla — Isla has been in use since the turn of the 20th century, but only recently became an international sensation. It evolved from Islay, the name of a Scottish island, and was initially a unisex name, although now all masculine usage has dropped off. Isla is also the Spanish word for island, which may be a better explainer for the moderate usage it saw in the US during the 1800s.
Landon — Landon may be the modern answer to Brandon, but it actually has a longer history than Brandon as a baby name in the US. Landon ranked in the Top 1000 all the way back in 1882, falling out from 1909–1935 and 1937–1963. Brandon first emerged in 1950. Actor Michael Landon helped popularize his adopted surname in the 1970s.
Luna — The Harry Potter franchise can be credited with renewing interest in Luna, but J.K. Rowling is far from the first to use the name. It hovered around the Top 500 throughout the 1880s, inspired by Roman goddess of the moon.
Mason — No, Kourtney Kardashian didn’t invent the name Mason (although she did give it a popularity boost). Mason is one of the few names that has always been in the Top 1000, and is far more classic than we give it credit for. Mason was a somewhat common name among Civil War era American politicians. Mason Tappan was a congressman from New Hampshire, and Mason S. Stone — whose name is redundant, as Mason means “stoneworker” — was the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont.
Mila — Mila Kunis did a lot for her name — a Russian and Slavic nickname, in her case for Milena. It was a blip on the charts in 1881 but didn’t see much use in the US again until 2007. Mila Gojsali? is a Croatian folk hero from the 16th century. She infiltrated the Ottoman army camp and killed their leader, allowing the Croatians to claim victory in the war.
Nova — Nova feels like a new name by definition, but it was first recorded as baby name in the 1800s. Nova is an astrological term for an exploding star — the term was coined in the 16th century by renowned astronomer Tycho Brahe.
Savannah — The other Top 100 place names like Madison and Brooklyn have only been around for a couple of generations at most, but Savannah was well-used back when the US started keeping baby name records in 1880. It took a long hiatus from the popularity charts beginning in 1929 but came back at full force (with a debut at Number 465!) in 1983 following the premiere of Savannah Smiles.
Weston — Sitting just outside the Top 100, Weston is at an all-time high, but it’s been used as a first name since at least the 1800s. Prior to that it was a surname meaning “west town,” which contributed to its popularity as a place name in the UK and North America.
Winter — Winter made its first appearance on the Top 1000 in 1978, where it stayed for a mere two years. It came to stay in 2012, and since then has climbed to Number 390 (and continues to rise). Given that Winter has only recently been embraced, you might expect that it would be a truly modern word name. It has actually been used (though sparingly) as a feminine given name since the 17th century.
Which names were you most surprised by?
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on April 19th, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Landon was my great-grandfather’s name! It’s a great name and I am glad it’s getting the love it deserves, but I miss having a super-cool, undiscovered gem of a name on my family tree.
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