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Who gets to judge your baby’s name?

September 12, 2018 Clare Green
baby name amber

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes boys with gemstone names, girls named after a car, sweet British nicknames, and lot of men named Paul.

Gendered jewel names

What’s your favorite gemstone name for a boy? Maybe you like traditional Jasper, or a modern unisex choice like Jet or Onyx…or Amber?

French parents have run into trouble for naming their son Ambre, the equivalent of Amber. Just like in English, it’s normally used for girls: it’s popular in France at the moment, making the Top 25 in 2016. But it has also been recorded for boys very occasionally – so it’s understandable that Ambre’s parents feel aggrieved that they have to fight a legal battle for his name.

Amber has been used as a boys’ name in the US too. From the 1970s through the 2000s, when Amber was at peak popularity for girls, it also charted for boys – sometimes more than 50 a year. There’s nothing inherently feminine about fossilized tree sap, and now that many Ambers are parents themselves, I can see it feeling fresh on a boy.

(Incidentally, the same thing is happening now for Ember, which is often seen as a successor to Amber. Over the last 10 years, since Ember has been rising  in popularity for girls, it’s seen a bit of use for boys as well: 24 boys were named Ember in the US in 2017 vs. more than 1100 girls.)

The other gemstone name in the news belongs to a boy who hasn’t quite been born yet. Model Slick Woods (birth name Simone Thompson) plans to use Saphir for her son, who’s due this month. It’s a nod to Sapphire, the birth month for September. What do you think of this pared-down version?

The issue of gender and names as a one-way street, with girls getting boys’ names but not vice versa, is explored by Joe Pinsker in a new piece in The Atlantic.

The Toyota triplets

A mother in Indonesia gave birth to triplets in a Toyota Avanza on the way to hospital, and named them…no, not Toyota (although that did once chart for girls in the US, in 1970), but Avanza. The three girls all have it as part of their name: Nazrina Khaula Avanza, Nazrina Khaira Avanza, and Nazrina Haura Avanza.

Would you name your baby after your car model? I drive a Micra, so I guess I could slip Mike or Micah in as a middle name. Other Toyota models that are good to go as names include Noah, Camry, Levin, Avalon, and perhaps even Alphard. You’ll find even more car name ideas in this blog post.

Once, twice, three times a name change

It’s common to be undecided about what to name babies – even after they’re born. So it doesn’t help when someone speaks out about changing his or her child’s name, as this British journalist did, and gets slammed by the judgey public.

Let’s just see it as one of those stories that makes life a bit more interesting. First the mother felt pressured by her older children into calling her daughter Delphine. Then she followed her heart and decided to go with Dolly instead. Then she thought it needed a longer full name, so she changed it to Dorothy. Then she decided it didn’t, so Dolly it was again – and has been for eight years and counting.

If you’re struggling at any stage, you can always seek the wisdom of your fellow berries in the Nameberry forums, or ask the Name Sage.

And if you love British nicknames like Dolly, you’ll appreciate the naming style of celebrity couple Robbie Williams and Ayda Field. Their daughter TheodoraTeddyRose and son CharltonCharlieValentine have just become big siblings to Colette CocoJosephine.

May the best Paul win

We all know a Paul (or several). This modest classic name was in the Top 20 for decades, and now sits at #225 in the US. In honor of two legendary Pauls – McCartney and Simon – releasing new albums, the folks at The Ringer have produced a definitive ranking of Pauls, from St Paul to Sean Paul via Paul the psychic octopus.

Have they left anyone off the Paul of Fame? Have I used the word Paul enough yet?

If Paul isn’t quite the name for you, you could try spicing it up with an international variation, like Pol or Pavel, or a name with a similar feel.

Speaking of songwriters, what’s your favorite name from a song? In this list of song-inspired names, the author wanted to name her son Cash, as in Johnny Cash. Her husband vetoed it, but they compromised on Jackson, after one of Cash’s songs.

The Top 10 through the decades

We’ve seen some interesting visualizations of name data over the years, from moving Top 10 lists to animated bubbles (with an epic soundtrack) to flashing maps. Now here’s an interactive graphic that might be new to you: it shows the US Top 10 since 1900 using lines, wheels and dots. Enjoy!

If you’re the type of person who marks name data releases on the calendar (I know it’s not just me), put a big red circle around September 21 – that’s when the England and Wales 2017 baby name stats are due to be published.

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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