It isn’t easy to find out which names are “hot” in 2013. Our most authoritative source of popularity data is the Social Security Administration. SSA will publish 2012 popularity data around Mother’s Day, which means pundits referring to names that were popular “last year” are referring to names given in 2011.
Other resources like Pamela Redmond Satran’s Nameberry.com blog can be very helpful to parents who want to know which names are hot and which names are not. In a recent post, Satran writes about 13 names whose “views” on her website are way up in 2013 versus 2012. (In other words, more parents have looked them up this year in comparison with last year.)
What’s harder to know is precisely why some names have become hot, and Satran does a good job of trying to figure that out and explain it (to the extent that’s possible). For example, the name Severine is newly popular because Severine is the latest Bond girl in the most recent James Bond movie, “Skyfall.” Satran also attributes the upsurge in the popularity of the name Marnie largely to the Marnie character on HBO’s popular “Girls” series.
What caught my eye were Satran’s comments about the name Bruce. Apparently, my name “is attracting new interest as the real name of both The Hulk and Batman.” I discovered there have been three Dark Knight (Batman) movies released over the past eight years. The most recent is “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman.
The last Incredible Hulk movie was released in 2008, but “The Avengers” (2012) seems to be the movie that has put Bruce on the “hot names list.” It features four superheroes (plus two ordinary humans — Black Widow and Hawkeye — who have extraordinary fighting abilities) who team up to stop the Norse god Loki from gaining power over the human race. A big box-office hit, it features Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk. What convinced me that “The Avengers” is impacting name choices is that another character from the movie, Thor (played by Chris Helmsley), is also on Satran’s “hot 13” list.
It doesn’t really matter if a name like Bruce or Severine or Marnie is “hot” because of some movie, TV show or rock star. It’s more important to consider what it will do for your son or daughter. Apart from the Bond flick, Severine is a little-known French name that may be difficult for some people to spell or pronounce properly (which your child is unlikely to find amusing). Marnie is a cute, feminine name, but it has a diminutive “ie” ending. The macro trend for girls’ names is this: Parents increasingly choose girls’ names that have “a” endings or neutral-consonant endings (like Ava or Madison) because they tend to come across as more “adult” than names that end in “y,” “i” or “ie.”
What will the name Bruce do for your child? It gave me a famous namesake who became a role model for me: not Bruce Wayne or Dr. Bruce Banner; not Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Jenner, Bruce Willis or Bruce Lee; but Robert the Bruce, the hero king of Scotland. If you know anything about his bio, you know he never gave up — even when his situation went from bleak to hopeless. He has played a big role in my life because I “started over” when I changed my name to Bruce. I also “started over” at four different jobs. And I started a company to publish a baby food cookbook in my back porch.
I bounced back from a divorce and the “Great Recession” (and several lesser recessions), which upset my financial well-being and dramatically changed the book business. Two years ago, I “started over” in a new business location with a tiny staff. Just a few months ago, I “started over” with a brand new blog: BabyNamesInTheNews.com. It seems that starting over and bouncing back are huge themes in my life, and for that reason, Robert the Bruce is a constant source of inspiration.
I hope you enjoy reading Pamela Redmond Satran’s article about thirteen names that are “hot” in 2013 because of what’s happening in the media. I also hope you go beyond what’s hot and dig much deeper into the short list of names you are considering, especially if you need to find just the right name for a baby you are waiting for and are hoping and praying will soon join your family.