Brooklyn’s Rise Brings Popularity as a Baby Name, But Locals Say Fuhgeddaboutit.

A highly readable article by Michael R. Sisak of Associated Press about Brooklyn (whose rise in appeal as a popular borough of New York seems to have produced an extraordinary rise in interest in Brooklyn as a place name for girls) provides an interesting new perspective on place names.

It turns out that Brooklyn has moved up in the popularity rankings from #912 in 1990 to the top 30—where it seems to have leveled off over the past three years. The strange thing is, according to Sisak:

“Of the 41 states where Brooklyn is now the most popular girl’s name beginning with B, New York is not among them. Real Brooklynites say naming your child Brooklyn is strictly for out-of towners.”

 Sisak tells the story of a girl named Brooklyn Presta who was born in Kansas and now lives in Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn Presta says her parents in Kansas were thinking unique, not New York, when they named her. Now 26 and living in Brooklyn, Presta says she often gets questions about whether she changed her name to fit her chosen borough. ‘It’s kind of crazy to be Brooklyn in Brooklyn, Presta says.’”

Apparently, Brooklyn is an appealing name for girls—as long as you don’t live there. If you live in Brooklyn, fuhgeddaboutit. I wonder if that’s the case for girls named Madison who live in Madison, Wisconsin (or work on Madison Avenue) or girls named Charlotte who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

FYI, Madison is currently the most popular place name for girls. It rose from #627 in 1985 to #2 in 2001–a rise fueled by interest in the mermaid character played by Darryl Hannah in “Splash.” Twelve years later, the name is still among the top ten girls’ names, but it’s now #9.

Charlotte was ranked at #306 in 1984, the year “Splash” was released. And it was ranked #307 fifteen years later in 1999. That must have been when the “place-name” trend (popularized by Madison) caused parents to realize that Charlotte was a place name in addition to being a literary name (made famous by Charlotte Bronte, whose popular romance novel, Jane Eyre, was published in 1847). Since 1999, Charlotte has ridden the “place-name” trend all the way up to #11–and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charlotte hop into the 1014 girls’ top-ten list when it is published by SSA next May.

Speaking of the SSA popularity statistics, my recent article about the most rapidly rising girls’ names in 2013 mentioned fifteen girls’ names that were streaking up the list. (And because both Brooklyn and Madison both seem to have peaked, the place-name baton seems to have been passed on to names like Ireland, Milan, Phoenix, Asia, Dakota and Londyn, and others.)

P.S. I’d love to hear from you if you have a place name and you live or work in that place. Is your experience like Brooklyn Presta’s? Or is it different? In my most popular article about place names, I discuss places that sound like they would be appropriate as names for people and places that might not work well for people. But I didn’t discuss what it’s like to live in a place you’re named after. If that describes you, please write a comment.




5 thoughts on “Brooklyn’s Rise Brings Popularity as a Baby Name, But Locals Say Fuhgeddaboutit.

  1. If you know the borough of Brooklyn you wouldn’t name your child Brooklyn. I think the Beckham’s named a son Brooklyn! Parents, if you like the name Brooklyn, name your daughter Brooke with a middle name of Lynn. Brooklyn means broken land. There is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is called Flat Bush. Do your research.

    • Using Google Translate I tried to discover what Brooklyn meant in Dutch. According to Google Translate, it means “Brooklyn.” The English words brook and lyn (or lynn) don’t mean “broken land” in Dutch, either. The Dutch word for broken isn’t “brook,” it’s “gebroken.” And Lyn or Lynn in Dutch are “Lyn” or “Lynn.” I always thought that Brooklyn was a combination of two names: Brook (or Brooke) + Lynn. Lauran, I’d be curious to know where you learned that Brooklyn means “broken land” in Dutch.

  2. You were right, Bruce. Brooklyn doesn’t mean broken land. I lived in Brooklyn for many years and it isn’t a place to name your kid. My Dutch hubs calls our kids dirty diapers, “brukies” but I can’t find the word in Dutch. I do like the names Brooke (as in Brooke Shields) and Lynn. Actually, I originally thought Brooklyn meant bunny in Dutch. Something about lots of rabbits when they inhabited the island. Dallas, Brooklyn, Austin, Weston, Easton, Bronx, it seems cool unless you are a kid saddled with the name.

  3. Lauran, I’m glad I did a little research with Google Translate. I suppose living in Brooklyn gave you a subjective view of the name. Seems as though you’d advise against picking the name Brooklyn for a child based on your experience there. I tend to like place names that call to mind a subjective image or impression of a charming, wonderful, or exciting places (as that case may be). For many people Paris creates a wonderful first impression–unless Paris Hilton alters your fond impression. Ultimately, if parents have fond feelings about certain places, it’s worthwhile for them to consider using those place names for their children.

  4. Pingback: » Brooklyn’s Rise Brings Popularity as a Baby Name, But Locals Say Fuhgeddaboutit. Baby Name Suggestion

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