What Happened to Hipster Baby Names?
By Abby Sandel
Last week, Toronto’s Alex Davey released the Hipster Baby Name Generator. I’m obsessed with the generator’s small batch baby names. How great are Scout Fitz Perry, Blanche Alette Lulu, and Edith Lemon Tulip?
It’s a great name, but it’s a classic, used steadily throughout the English-speaking world for generations.
If you’d asked me to guess the name of a Gaiman-Palmer kiddo, I’d have gone straight to the Generator. Oscar Schorl Bean, maybe, or Ernest Archibald Remus. After all, Gaiman has chosen character names as innovative as Coraline and Yvaine.
Yesterday’s so-called hipster baby names are today’s Top 100 choices and fast-rising favorites. If Mabel has gone mainstream, maybe the hippest baby naming choice is to play it safe. Are buttoned-down names like Anthony and Caroline, Anne and James, now the style stand-outs?
Maybe so, because this week’s baby name news was filled with choices straight out of the Hipster Baby Name Generator.
Cleo Simone – Cleo was big in the 1910s, but still feels more modern than vintage. And Simone brings to mind singer Nina Simone. Together, it’s a cool combination that would be right at home in Silver Lake or Williamsburg. But Names for Real spotted this combination in a recent birth announcement in South Dakota.
Arlo Day – Gossip Girl alum Leighton Meester and husband Adam Brody are new parents to Arlo Day. Just like former co-star Blake Lively, Leighton chose a traditionally masculine name for her new daughter. Arlo Day would be an edgy, interesting name for a boy – it’s doubly daring for a girl.
Arden – Earlier this week, Arden was on Nameberry’s tag cloud as both a boy name and a girl name. The name was given to 243 girls in 2014, versus just 94 boys. But it’s rising quickly as a boy’s name in the US.
Athena Belle – Goddess names were once rare for real girls. But when designer Stacey Bendet and producer Eric Eisner announced the name of their third daughter, it wasn’t an extreme style statement. Athena Belle joins big sisters Eloise Breckenridge and Scarlet Haven.
Eugene – Is Eugene so uncool that it’s cool again? This week brought birth announcements for Clarence Eugene and Eugene Gisselle. Is that a girl named Eugene? The name has fallen dramatically since the 1920s, but maybe Eugene has finally gone so far out, it’s in.
Gaia Rae and Evie Beryl – The Hipster Baby Name Generator tends towards longer names, but lately I find some of the coolest names are short. Short on sounds and letters – nicknames instead of formal names and single syllables rather than Olivia or Isabella. Just like these two, both found in Indiana birth announcements.
Odette Rose – Not too long ago, Odette made headlines as the ultimate hipster baby name for girls. But Odette – along with cousins Otis, Otto, and Ottoline – has been attracting more attention from parents who aren’t necessarily clustered in Park Slope. A birth announcement for Odette Rose recently appeared in Waltzing More than Matilda’s Australian round-up.
Bix – A recent Nameberry Baby Name of the Day, Bix comes from jazz Bix Beiderbecke – born Leon Bismark Beiderbecke. In his day, he was among the most influential jazz musicians of the 1920s. Bix died young, so perhaps that’s why he’s not better known. It’s the ultimate recipe for a Hipster Baby Name.
Milo, Eliot, and Plum – One of my favorite places for spotting bold and creative baby names? Design Mom’s Living with Kids series. Gabrielle Blair features home tours from stylish families, like this recent profile of blogger Miranda Anderson’s Austin home. She and her husband are parents to sons Milo and Eliot, and daughter Plum. What a great sibset!
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on September 28th, 2015 at 12:30 am
Arlo is my favorite boys’ name at the moment, so I was ecstatic when I saw that Leighton Meester had named her baby Arlo Day…until I found out it was a GIRL. Are you kidding me?! I guess Arlo will be a great playmate for Blake Lively’s daughter James. Seriously ridiculous.
on September 28th, 2015 at 1:55 am
^what they said – can’t stand it.
on September 28th, 2015 at 4:09 am
I am sick and tired of stunning boy names used for girls. Absolutely sick of it. We all know what can end up happening, just look what happened to Ashley as a male name.
It’s not as though there aren’t enough strong and beautiful girl names out there is it?!
on September 28th, 2015 at 6:24 am
I guess I’m a total hipster of yesterday. I love these names. 🙂 Filled out the Hipster Name Generator and my first suggestion was for my grandmother’s name, which I would actually love to use.
And I won’t be switching to Anthony and Catherine any time soon!
on September 28th, 2015 at 6:32 am
I absolutely love Arden but for a girl. It seems obviously feminine to me.
on September 28th, 2015 at 7:48 am
Guess I’m pretty boring. Anthony was my favorite of all those names mentioned. 🙂
on September 28th, 2015 at 8:18 am
My friend just had a baby boy and named him Ledger which I think would fall into the hipster category, its also right on with the current ‘surname name’ trend. At first it made me think of an accountant, you know like a ledger that an accountant would keep? but I guess it was inspired by actor Heath Ledger.
on September 28th, 2015 at 10:07 am
BTW, Eugene Gisselle is a boy. I should have added that.
Cleo Simone was one of my favorite finds. Love it.
Milo, Eliot, & Plum. How great is that sibset?
That generator is fun. Here are some of my choices I got.
Fannie Briar Elm
Hattie Moss Spruce
Scout Louis Jack
Emerson Casper Wolf
Agnes Clover Nettie
Edith Dot Edna
I’m addicted. haha
Great post as usual.
on September 28th, 2015 at 10:22 am
I am drawn to some hipster names, particularly of the so-out-they-are-in variety such as Maude, Louis, Elsie, Dot, Peony, Emerson, Ira, Ida, Arthur, Aspen, Beryl.
I am not a fan of boy’s names on girls but acknowledge that as a naming practice it has been around forever. It is just becoming more popular, ie. hipster, right now.
The hipster baby name generator is a kick! Here are some fun ones:
Fannie Peony Ida
Edith Moss Clementine
Fannie Marigold Viola
Blanche Poppy Maud
Emerson Louis Crimson
Scout Benson Indigo
Arthur Bergamot Sage
Ernest Eugene Elm
Roy Edelweiss Perry
Oscar Bort Larimar
on September 28th, 2015 at 10:32 am
If any post has made me sigh, it’s this one…
on September 28th, 2015 at 11:51 am
The popularity of Arden reminded me of a name on our family tree, a male Ardyce born 1912. We think he was named after someone, possibly a surname. I’ve always thought it would be a good girl’s name or middle male or female. His wife, incidentally, was Maude. They didn’t have any children.
on September 28th, 2015 at 11:58 am
It seems like, and maybe it’s worse on this site than anywhere else, that parents are trying to out-Brooklyn each other when it comes to names, especially boy names. The rise of Atticus is proof. If you take a way the art or literary reference or elevated something or other and listen to the sound of these names, most are pretty awful.
on September 28th, 2015 at 1:35 pm
A lot of the names I like are considered “hipster” but I’m definitely not a hipster. Uncommon/unheard of names have always been my style. I’m an 80s baby so growing up with tons of Jennifers, Jasons, Tiffanys, Seans, Brittanys, and ect made me want my future kids to have unique names. Now that hipster names are a thing, I may end up not using some of my faves if their popularity rises too much.
on September 28th, 2015 at 2:45 pm
I think the division between mainstream and hipster baby names is a very subjective concept. I think we can all agree that the likes of Elijah, Mason, Bella, and Lily are now very mainstream choices in the US. But I hesitate to label names like Milo, Penelope, Arthur, and Violet as mainstream. These are definitely “hipster names” in the Deep South, which is where I am.
on September 28th, 2015 at 4:13 pm
Edith is one of my favorite names EVER, but I doubt I could ever use it. 🙁
I really think that vintage is the new “hipster”. Before, people were naming their kids Catherine and Anthony, so the people who wanted to giver their kids something else, decided on naturey (River) or names like Braden or Jayden, and since those are becoming more popular, the namers moved on to the vintage names that people began leaving behind. I wouldn’t be surprised if my future daughters’ best friends were named Agnes, Rain and Ava.
on September 28th, 2015 at 4:44 pm
I personally love a lot of the names described as hipster, and definitely don’t see the term hipster as a bad thing! I love Cleo Simone, Arlo Day, Arden, Athena Belle, Odette Rose, Milo, Eliot, and Plum. I even love the names from the Hipster Name Generator, Scout Fitz Perry, Blanche Alette Lulu, and Edith Lemon Tulip are really interesting names in my opinion, although Edith and Blanche aren’t my favorites.
I think the names classified as hipster are a collection of nature and vintage names, and when you put those together it makes for a name that is really unique and can be quite beautiful. I absolutely loved playing with the Hipster Name Generator and have added a few new names to my list, like Perry, Fitz, Thyme, Spruce, Cedar, Moss, and Briar to my boys list and Crimson, Aspen, Orion, Apricot, Alexandrite, Aubergine, Berry, Daffodil, Lotus, Petunia, Spruce, Thistle, and Zinnia to my girls list.
I love that a lot of the names are unisex and nature inspired. It always makes me a little upset when I read a post like this though, and some are upset over the fact that some names are becoming unisex, being used for another gender, or the names are described as hipster/trendy/some other adjective that people see as negative. I love reading posts about all the name styles, whether its something I like myself, like nature, or something that’s not my style, like traditional. Also, I never understand the problem with unisex names, or names that some see as too “feminine” or too “masculine being used for the other gender, its just names to me and a great name is a great name.
on September 28th, 2015 at 8:16 pm
Atticus sounds awful? That’s just your opinion. I love the sound of it. I absolutely love that hipster baby name generator – I guess “hipster” is my naming style since I loved almost all of these. Although I wouldn’t classify myself as a hipster (though I do love essential oils and alpaca blankets)…hipster is sort of just a mix of tons of things, and it has a different meaning for each person, and it’s a different mix for each person, resulting in it not really being a style. Confuses me. The names are great though! And I strongly agree with amf0224 with everything, but especially about the unisex names!
on September 28th, 2015 at 8:36 pm
I still don’t know what a “hipster” is, nor do I really want to. It all sounds pretentious to me.
on September 28th, 2015 at 10:31 pm
amf0224 – I feel compelled to pipe up to explain my negative reaction to this suddenly insanely popular trend of girls being given traditional boys’ names. It should be clarified that the trend I’m observing (I basically live in Silverlake, FYI) is not that people are choosing any name for either sex (“unisex”) but specifically that people are naming girls what would have seemed in the past like boys’ names. I have seen …none? of it going the other way with parents giving boys traditionally girly names, and a TON of girls with names like James, Elliott, Arlo, Wyatt, Noa (maybe leaving off the “h”), Sid/Syd, etc. On the playground with my 2 year old an hour ago I met a girl named Rafael (“Rafa” for short), which is cute and like Arlo can even sound “girly” if you take away the associations, but at this point I have to struggle not to roll my eyes.
I will admit that in my case it’s kinda personal. Aside from being instinctively repelled by anything that seems to have gotten too trendy (I know, I know), I’ve always noticed the complete disparity between both the sheer number of choices for girls’ names and the breadth of creativity that’s “allowed” or accepted for girls’ names vs. boys’. As a mom of almost two boys (we’re expecting our second in Jan.), this reality has hit home like whoa. I would LOVE it if “unisex” were truly a thing and I suddenly had a whole huge pile of new names to draw from for our expected baby boy, but alas, it’s just not happening. In fact, what I see is more of the “Ashley” effect — once a trad masculine name has been used on enough girls, it becomes permanently off limits for boys and seems suddenly weird and risky — no parents want to inflict a lifetime of playground taunts on their sweet babies. So while some of these commenters might be reacting out of a conservative sense of how things “should” be/stay, my annoyance is that this trend is only operating one way — and it’s taking more names off my plate! UGH JUST STOP all you Hollywood moms and your imitators! You are ruining it for mothers/future mothers of boys! Leave us our potentially feminine sounding options!
on September 28th, 2015 at 11:56 pm
I don’t apologize for hating the trend to use boy names as girl names. I believe gender is important and eternal and that you should help your kids fully embrace their gender. That doesn’t mean I won’t buy dolls for my boys or not let my girls go backpacking with their dad–but it does mean that I want their names to easily identify their gender. If a mom picks a name like James for her son it is pretty clear she wants a gender-identifying name. Unlike Reese or Charlie. Wyatt throws me. It is so ultra-masculine (Wyatt Earp, gunslingers, the o-k corral) that I wonder what exactly a person is trying to do when she uses it for a girl. It does bother me. And while some names make a sort of sense as transfers–Riley, for example (because of the “e” sound at the end)–some, like James, don’t and that’s where I get really bugged.
on September 29th, 2015 at 11:28 am
Just to clarify, Noa is a hebrew name for girls meaning “movement” and not a version of Noah.
I agree with @SFS. They are not “unisex” names because after they’ve been well used for girls, they start to be off limits for boys. And it’s never the other way around: you would NEVER hear boys named Katherine or Alice.
I like a few of them, like Rowan, but generally I see them as removing names from the boys side and adding them to the girls.
on September 29th, 2015 at 3:01 pm
In my experience the names that give you serious hipster cred these days are the ones that are so frumpy it would take guts to use them. Ugly-cool is all hipster where I’m from.
Hester, Fern, Ned, Egbert, Hildegarde, Bartholomew, Humphrey, Maude, Edna, Hettie, Elma, etc
on September 29th, 2015 at 10:39 pm
I think I fall within the hipster demographic (that very admission probably disqualifies me, tho!)–and I lived in Brooklyn, NY; then moved to the westside of LA, both of which strike me as pretty hipster-y neighborhoods. The names of kids born 5 years ago strike me as pretty hipster–either completely unconventional/rare, clunky-cool, antique-unique, or preppy-blueblood-traditional:
Morrison (a girl)
Those are Brooklyn kids, born c. 2010. And here are some more recent names of babies in my neck of the woods (aged 0-1):
and Rebecca (and that’s “Rebecca,” NOT “Becky” or “Becca” or anything less than 3 syllables)
I think they’re moving closer to the “plain” side of conventional–in my world, “Anthony” would fit right in! I wonder if the last frontier in our anything-but-overdone trump-card era is boomer/sixties names. I’ve yet to meet a little Pamela or Gary…
on September 30th, 2015 at 7:44 am
@BothCoasts: I’m pretty sure it’s claiming NOT to be a hipster that automatically makes you a hipster. 🙂 I fall within the general demographic too.
The “plain” side of conventional is like the Normcore of baby naming, no? Keep an eye out for Gary and Janet!
on September 30th, 2015 at 10:28 am
@SFS Could it be that the little girl you saw at the park was named Raphaelle and not Raphael? The pronunciation can be almost identical yet Raphaelle is a legitimately feminine name.
on October 4th, 2015 at 6:26 pm
Thanks @ashbee for the Noa clarification — I knew this (kinda?) but still thought of it as a “borrowed from the boys” name when I saw it on a recent birth announcement. And yes, @babymagic, good point — she could’ve been Raphaelle not Rafael/Raphael. At this point I’m just one big (pregnant) raw nerve, reacting anytime I hear of yet another celebrity/hipster baby girl named James, Arlo or Charlie.
on October 20th, 2015 at 4:40 pm
I’m not sure if anyone has pointed this out but AP and Neil Gaiman named their son after Amanda’s late best friend who died of cancer. It just seems a bit cold to comment on the name of their child as boring when his name holds so much significance for them.
on May 20th, 2016 at 5:13 pm
I’m a huge Amanda Palmer fan. They named their son Anthony after a very good friend of Amanda’s who passed away. There’s a whole story about him on her blog, it’s pretty great, he’s also the inspiration behind her new song, “Machete.” They call their son “Ash” for short, which sounds much more hipster if you ask me 🙂
on May 28th, 2016 at 6:02 pm
Normcore–I love it! My daughter’s name is Martha. As a longtime name aficionado I just got bored of the whole concept of name as style statement. I love that her name has been used by thousands before her and doesn’t scream artsy or cute or different. I always thought I’d go quirky-vintage, but anything like the hipster name generator names felt too precious and contrived when the time came. (Though I do love Agnes and Ernest. And there’s something about Nancy and Barbara…?)
E. Wittig Said
on July 4th, 2016 at 3:32 pm
Oh man, do I love Plum. I’m still waiting for the perfect character to gift the name Indigo Plum. Odette, Ottoline, and Milo are also great.
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