One of the posts I did last year that I really enjoyed was Unisex Baby Names: Five new entries – a list of those names special enough to simultaneously debut for both girls and boys in 2012. There were just five, and it was interesting to learn about names from cultures I am largely unfamiliar with, plus some word names, celebrity names, and spelling variations I hadn’t considered. So I wanted to do the same for the 2013 names. And the three contenders for 2013 manage to deliver on all of those aspects.
CHIKAMSO – Given to 5 girls and 8 boys in 2013
Showing how much I still have to learn about the world of names, when I first saw Chikamso I thought it might be of Asian origin. I learned however that Chikamso is a Nigerian name from the Igbo (or Ibo) people. For a parent looking for a strong Igbo name that honours God, this could be a good choice, as it means ‘God I follow’ or ‘I am following God’. Possible nicknames include Chi – which is also an Igbo name reportedly meaning ‘God’ or ‘spiritual guardian’ – or the more commonly suggested Kamso. Or dare I suggest Kamzo? Kamso itself has never charted, but seems like it would be a cool and spunky nickname for either gender.
HARBOUR – Given to 7 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At first I was surprised that this hadn’t charted before. After all, I was sure I’d seen it in birth announcements. Then I realised what I had missed. Seeing Harbour on the U.S charts is a little strange because this is the British spelling (also used in Australia) of Harbor. Is it possible that these were all bestowed by parents from countries where Harbour is the accepted spelling? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s just a personal preference. For example, here in Australia we use the spelling Honour. But if I were using it as a name, I’d hands down choose the spelling Honor. For some reason I just think it looks more attractive. Like Harbor and now Harbour, both Honor and Honour have charted in the U.S, although Valour is yet to chart alongside Valor. Maybe next year.
Spelling intricacies aside, Harbour is of course a word name. Conceptually though, it can also be seen as something of a virtue name. It’s a haven, a place to find protection from stormy weather. It’s also a viable option if you want a name associated with water, or perhaps sailing. Or maybe there is a particular harbour location that holds a special meaning for you. While online it seems that many feel it is better suited for a boy, it’s strong yet soft sound makes Harbour an appealing option for either gender.
KHYMANI – Given to 5 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At one point last year I started making a list of the many names with a similar sound to this – and there are quite a few. Kymani is the most popular spelling, given to 58 girls and 253 boys in 2013. Others already charting are Kimani, Kamani, Kemani, Khamani, Keymani, Keimani, Camani, Kaimani, and Kmani; so it seems that this is simply a new variant.
So, where did this name come from, assuming that Kymani as the most popular spelling is the “original” form? Well, the interesting thing about the SSA records it that punctuation such as hyphens are usually omitted from the records, so it’s very possible that many Kymanis are actually Ky–Manis. As in Ky–Mani Marley, son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley and successful reggae musician in his own right. Ky–Mani (and hence Kymani and Khymani) is said to be an East African name meaning ‘adventurous traveler’. At which point I must admit I personally didn’t see the attraction of the name until learning what a cool meaning it has. I love it – it strikes me as a modern day aspirational name, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
Kymani first charted for girls in 1995 and for boys in 1997, while Ky–Mani Marley released his first album ‘Like Father Like Son‘ in 1996. I can’t say I love this new Khymani variant, which feels as if parents may have been influenced by the ‘Game of Thrones‘ nouveau title-come-name Khaleesi for the “Kh” spelling. As they say though variety is the spice of life, and the additional “H” does seem to lend some additional exoticism to the name.
There we have it – three new worthy names to receive the honour of entering the charts for both genders in the same year. Do you think they might have staying power?