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Unique Baby Names in the News

By Emma Waterhouse

Unique baby names feature heavily in this week’s name news, from fresh word names chosen by high-profile parents to a centuries-old Indian naming tradition.

Newest Celebrity Baby Names

There’s a definite theme to this week’s high-profile baby name announcements.

From British actress Lacey Turner’s new daughter Dusty, to food writer Ella Woodward’s baby girl Skye, to director Jon M. Chu’s son Jonathan Heights (to be known as “Heights”, after his father’s upcoming film In the Heights), the latest crop of starbaby names are drawn straight from the dictionary.

It’s a trend that goes way back — to Apple Martin, Pixie Geldof and beyond — but today’s celebrity parents are getting ever more creative. If wild and wonderful word names are your style, then this list is for you!

Elsewhere in the celebrisphere, news anchor Gayle King is already brainstorming names for a future grandchild… and she’s certainly been bitten by the baby-naming bug! “I’m now adding Théoden to the list. I have Eden, I have Chandler, I have Remington, I have Sawyer, and now I have Théoden… I like cool names that aren’t weird.

British Baby Names: Naming quandaries from across the pond

Blame this one on the pregnancy hormones! What would you do if you met a dog with the same name you’d chosen for your baby? Shrug it off? Reconsider? Or… well, the mind boggles.

On a more serious note: one of the most common problems we see on the Nameberry Forums is that family members (usually grandparents, it has to be said) disapprove of the parents’ chosen name. And one British mum took to the parenting website Mumsnet this week to complain about her mother-in-law deliberately misspelling her daughter’s name, simply because she prefers Caitlin over Kaitlyn. How would you tackle this situation?

In other British name news: David and Susan top the list of the most common names among those awarded a knighthood or damehood by the Queen over the past decade. Others include popular mid-century picks like Michael, Richard, Robert and Paul for men, and Janet, Frances, Helen and Angela for women.

And the 2019 Love Island babies are here! From Valentino to PennySue Tinkerbell — which is your favourite?

Fitting In or Standing Out?: would you — should you — name a child to fit in or to stand out?

The dial has definitely been swinging towards the latter side in recent years, with a record number of American babies receiving a name outside of the Top 1000 last year. And the trend for uncommon and unique baby names isn’t limited to Western countries, either.

But there are benefits to both approaches. Going by his more distinctive middle name has no doubt helped to bolster new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s (born Alexander) larger-than-life persona, but there’s a lot to be said for the sense of solidarity, familiarity and connectedness that a more common name (or surname) can bring.

And, for the author of this moving article about name changing associated with gender identity, the “unabashed masculinity” of simple, solid, everyman Jack was the main factor in the name’s appeal.

Intriguing International Names: Israel and India

Israel’s latest baby name data is in, and Mohammed and Tamar retain the #1 spots for the third year in a row, showcasing the diversity of the Israeli baby naming landscape. Other popular picks include David, Ariel and Aviv for boys, and Noa, Maya and Mariam for girls.

In India, an analytics company has used AI to produce this intriguing report about what Indian names can indicate about their bearers, in terms of their likely age, gender, ethnicity, and affluence. It’s a fascinating insight into some of the quirks of naming practices in India — for example, surnames can sometimes tell more about gender than first names; Harmanpreet Kaur is highly likely to be female, but Harmanpreet Singh is highly likely to be male. However, it comes with the disclaimer that it’s not remotely reliable on an individual level: it gives the MD of Sequoia Capital India, Shailendra Singh, an “affluence index” of -3.2!

And here’s a final fascinating find from India: in the remote mountain village of Kongthong, unique songs of up to 30 seconds in length are used instead of the villagers’ formal names in most everyday situations. It’s a tradition going back centuries, and you need to watch the video — just amazing!

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from pregnancy and birth to unique baby names from fiction and fantasy. As Nameberry’s head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England‘s smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

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miloowen Says:

August 1st, 2019 at 10:47 am

I’m with the British mum. My daughter’s Caitlin, spelled traditionally, because her father was Irish and my last name is Welsh. My sister went for Kathleen, for one of her daughter’s middle names, going for the phonetic spelling.

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