22 TV Characters to Name Your Baby After

Here’s a list of 22 TV characters whose names Mashable.com thinks are worth considering for your child. Check out the list and  see my objections to some of the names under the list. Then visit Mashable.com to see the photos they’ve collected to help you visualize all of the characters.

  1. Veronica (Veronica Mars)
  2. Olivia (Law & Order SVU)
  3. Titus (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
  4. Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
  5. Jane (Jane the Virgin)
  6. Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  7. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock)
  8. Joan (Mad Men)
  9. Carlton (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
  10. Archer (Archer)
  11. Peggy (Mad Men)
  12. Aria (Pretty Little Liar)
  13. Selina (Veep)
  14. Daria (Daria )
  15. Dexter (Dexter )
  16. Hannibal (Hannibal)
  17. Fez (That 70’s Show)
  18. Rory (Gilmore Girls)
  19. Lorelai (Gilmore Girls)
  20. Nancy (Weeds)
  21. Maeby (Arrested Development)
  22. Cookie (Empire)

I agree with Mashable.com that their list of colorful TV characters provides a useful option if you’re thinking of using the name of a character from  Game of Thrones–many of which are hard to spell and pronounce and come across as confusing to people not familiar with that show. But I question the appropriateness of using some of the names in Mashable’s list for your baby:

Hannibal (the name immediately calls a cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lector, to mind )

Fez (the name immediately calls a Turkish felt hat with tassel on top to mind)

Maeby (this character in Arrested Development has an affinity for her first cousin and often stumbles into potentially incestuous situations; if that doesn’t dissuade you from using the name, consider that it’s likely to be misspelled more often than not)

Jane (the name immediately calls “plain Jane” to mind)

Cookie (the name sounds more like something sweet to eat than a little girl–or a grown woman)

 

 

 

What’s Up With the Popularity of Surnames Like Jackson, Kennedy, Lincoln and Reagan as Names for Babies?

I’ve never understood why parents would name their baby boys Jackson (and variations like Jaxon and Jaxson) instead of Jack. (Jackson is a popular surname; Jack is a classic boys’ name. I suppose Jaxon and Jaxson are attempts by parents to bridge the difference.)

Yesterday I read an article by Eleanor Jones (of Good to Know) called  “Could Maiden Names Be the Latest Baby Name Trend?” in which Jones argues that using family surnames (maiden names) as given names for baby boys and girls is a hot new trend.

To check out this trend I took a quick look at the latest Social Security Administration boys’ and girls’ top-100 lists in 2014. I noticed nine surnames on the boys’ top-100 list in 2014: Mason (#3), Jackson (#17), Hunter (#36),  Landon (#43), Tyler (#63), Parker (#73), Cooper (86), Carson (#90) and Lincoln (#95).  The only surnames I could find on the top-100 girls’ list were Kennedy (#54), and Taylor (#77).

But it’s hard to get excited about this “maiden-name trend” when you consider that of the eleven surnames I’ve just mentioned, only four increased in popularity last year: Kennedy (+10),  Lincoln (+8), Mason (+1) and Parker (+1) (the numbers in parentheses refer to the gains these names as they increased in popularity last year).

You may have noticed that six of the popular surnames I’ve mentioned (Mason, Hunter, Tyler, Parker, Taylor and Cooper) are trade names or occupational names (e.g., a mason is someone who does masonry; a hunter is someone who hunts). Of those trade names, only Mason and Parker increased in popularity last year, while the popularity of Hunter, Tyler, Taylor and Cooper declined.

But the surnames on the top-100 lists that exhibited the most dynamic increase in popularity last year belong to popular presidents: Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Seems to me the dynamic trend here is that more parents are giving their children surnames of famous namesakes they admire—a category that includes popular presidents and popular celebrities, like John Lennon and Jean Harlow and Jennifer Aniston. (Lennon, Harlow and Anniston are recent additions to the top-1000 list which I have written about in several recent posts. FYI, Anniston is the spelling parents prefer when they use Jennifer’s last name as a first name for their baby girls.)

You may want to browse the list of surnames Jones selected to illustrate the maiden-name trend. Notice that Jones left surnames that declined in popularity in 2014 (Jackson, Hunter, Landon, Tyler, Cooper and Carson) off her list. Consider that Reagan is the surname of a very popular president, Ronald Reagan; and that Marley is the surname of popular singer, Bob Marley. I should also mention that Taylor (-18) was one of the biggest losers on the top-100 girls’ list in 2014. That said, here’s her list:

Johnson
Carter
Archer
Campbell
Smith
Marley
Harper
Cole
Walker
Franklyn
Kelly
Mason
Reagan
Taylor
Cassidy

P.S. I know that Andrew Jackson was the 7th president of the United States. But I doubt he is currently as revered a figure as John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Abe Lincoln–but I could be wrong. Perhaps the huge increase in the popularity of Jackson, Jaxon and Jaxson over the last five years or so was due to President Andrew Jackson’s popularity in the South.

 

Nine Cool Characters from the ’90s to Name Your Kid After

Who was your  favorite actor or movie star in the 90s’ when you were “coming of age.” Did you ever think of naming your child after one of them? Refresh your memory of the stars you dreamed about at night–and add some names to your baby name list. At least that’s the thought Kat George had when she penned this article for Bustle.com.

Here’s how she starts her entertaining piece:

“If you were a preteen or teen in the ’90s you’re probably around that baby-making age now…So why not take inspiration from that amazing decade while naming said babies.”

Wanna know who Kat George thinks are the coolest characters from the ’90s? (FYI, I looked up the names of the actors who portrayed the cool characters and the names of the TV shows or movies they starred in–so you’d know. I also included a brief rationale by Kat George for each selection):

  1. Adriana (La Cerva) in “The Sopranos”; Portrayed by: Drea de Matteo
    Why: “She had the best wardrobe on television ever, period.”
  1. Josh (Lucas) in “Clueless” (the movie); Portrayed by: Paul Rudd
    Why: …”the character that made a whole generation of women fall in love with Paul Rudd.
  1. Anya (Jenkins ) in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; Portrayed by: Emma Caulfield
    Why: ”Anya is the best character…and a powerful woman too, so it’s a win-win situation for your kid.”
  1. Jesse (Katsopolis ) in “Full House”; Portrayed by: John Stamos
    Why: “Who is cooler than Uncle Jesse? Can’t think of anyone, can you?”
  1. Elaine (Benes ) “Seinfeld”; Portrayed by: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Why: “I feel like it goes without explaining but I will tell you this: Elaine is EVERYTHING!”
  1. John (McClane ) “Die Hard”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Yippee kiyay mother****er!”
  1. Mia (Wallace) “Pulp Fiction” ; Portrayed by: Uma Thurman
    Why: So she did a few drugs. She survived!
  1. Korben (Dallas); “The Fifth Element”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Korben was the coolest guy. I mean, he had to be to pull off the bleached hair and neon orange tank top.”
  1. Maude (Lebowski); “The Big Lebowski”; Portrayed by: Julianne Moore.
    Why: “If I could be any woman in any movie, I’d be Maude Lebowski.“

If you want to see the great photos and videos that accompany the Bustle piece, click here.

Where Do the Fastest-Rising Boys’ and Girls’ Names Come From: 10 Celebrity and Media Backstories

 

I can’t think of a sillier way to name babies than selecting names associated with popular movies, TV shows and celebrities. Just think of the ridiculous names foisted on their children (and their fans) by these sources in the past. I’m referring to outrageous celebrity baby names like North West and Blue Ivy, movie & TV show characters’ names like Katniss (“Hunger Games”) and Daenerys (“Game of Thrones”), and reality TV show names like Khloé (“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”).

And yet every year the fastest-rising names reported by the Social Security Administration, on or around Mothers’ Day, are usually derived from just these sources. In fact, Laura Wattenberg has written: “Reality TV stars are the biggest source of new names today.” Let’s take a look at some of the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names to see precisely what inspired large numbers of parents to pick them in 2013:

Fast-Rising Boys’ Names

-Jayceon (2013: #206; 2012: #1,017)
Backstory: Jayceon is the given name of popular west-coast rapper, Jayceon Terrell Taylor. Taylor’s stage name is “The Game” or “Game.”

-Jase (2013: #89; 2012: #270)
Source: Jase is a fictional characters on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular reality TV show. In the show, Jase is Phil and Kay Robertson’s son. In the show, he’s the COO of Duck Commander, the family business–although Jase would rather hunt and fish than go to work. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Milan (2013: #484; 2012: #1,159)
Backstory: Milan is the name of Shakira’s baby boy. Shakira is a popular Columbian recording artist who is a singing coach on “The Voice,” a popular reality TV show.

-Castiel (2003: #956; 2002: #1374)
Backstory: Castiel is a fictional character portrayed by Misha Collins on “Supernatural,” a series presented by the CW TV Network. In the show, Castiel is an angel who introduces the theme of Christian theology.

-Kyrie (2003: 590; 2002: 868)
Backstory: Kyrie Irving briefly played college hoops at Duke and was the #1 draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He was named an all-star in 2013 and 2014–his first two seasons in the NBA.

Fast-Rising Girls’ Names:

-Daleyza (2013: #585; 2012: #3,769)
Backstory: Daleyza is one of singer Larry Hernandez’s daughters on “Larrymania,” a popular Spanish-language reality TV show.

-Everly (2013: #383; 2012: #907)
Backstory: Everly is movie star Channing (“21 Jump Street”) Tatum’s baby daughter. He also made a movie in 2012 called “Magic Mike,” that documented his 8-month “career” as a male stripper. (I suppose that would make Channing Tatum an “inspiring figure” to some people.)

-Sadie (2013: #50; 2012: #120).
Backstory: Sadie is a fictional character on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular realty TV show. In the show, she is Willie and Corrie Robertson’s daughter. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Kendra (2013: #187; 2012: #387)
Backstory: Kendra Wilkinson is the star of the eponymous reality TV show “Kendra.” She is also one of the stars of a reality TV show called “The Girls Next Door.” which documents her life in the Playboy mansion where she is one of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends. (I suppose that would make her an “inspiring namesake” to some people.)

-Jurnee (2013: #896; 2012: #1467)
Backstory: Jurnee Smollett is an actress who played the role of Eve in the movie “Eve’s Bayou” and the role of Jess in the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” In  2013, she was seen on TV in these roles: Heather Hall on “Parenthood,” Nicole Wright on “True Blood,” and Ms. Young’s daughter on “Do No Harm.”

If you read my post about the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names, I focus on the “themes” or “clusters” that are rising together (rather than individual names that rely on a particular celebrity or TV show which is likely to disappear when the show tanks or the celebrity steps in doggy-doo, as Phil Robertson and Paula Deen did, quite recently. It’s no fun to be named after a TV show that was cancelled for good reason or a celebrity who developed an awful reputation after his or her name was written on your birth certificate.

 

 

 

Pick a Name That Will Inspire Your Child–Like Maya Angelou Has Inspired the WNBA’s Maya Moore

Maya Moore is currently leading the WNBA in scoring. Her team, the Minnesota Lynx (two-time WNBA champions), are undefeated in their first six games of the 2014 season. It seems that there’s almost nothing Moore can’t do on the basketball court. So on Friday, May 29, two days after Maya Angelou, Moore’s namesake, had passed away at the age of 86, Maya Moore did the unexpected. She announced:

“Tonight, I will play in celebration of the life of my namesake –Thank you for the beauty you brought into the world. #DrMayaAngelou”

To describe Maya Angelou as a great woman is almost an understatement. If you read what Wikipedia has to say about her, you’ll learn that she was a noteworthy author, poet, playwright, movie scriptwriter, director, producer, singer, actor, dancer,  professor, civil rights activist and journalist (to name just a few of her accomplishments). When she set her mind on something, there wasn’t anything Maya Angelou couldn’t do.

And that’s why Maya Angelou was a great namesake and inspiration for Maya Moore–which explains why Maya Moore, who was Rookie of the Year in 2011 and MVP of the WNBA Finals in 2013 dedicated herself to out-doing her previous accomplishments on and off the basketball court before the start of the 2014 season.

Moore’s gracious tribute to Maya Angelou demonstrates what a great gift parents can give their children when they name their kids after namesakes who can inspire and serve as role models for their children. It’s often a mistake to name children after pop culture stars whose images are subject to “trainwrecks” due to mistakes that are easily made when “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” combine with too much money to cloud their judgment–sometimes before they are even out of their teens and twenties.

Consider making a list of your heroes and reading about them to help you decide which of your heroes could motivate your child to do great things.

P.S. In addition to being a name with literary, athletic and historical connections, Maya is also on my top-20 list of “Cool Names for Girls.”

Old-Fashioned (Baby Boomer) Names Are Making a Comeback

Baby Boomer names are making a comeback.

That was a conclusion Baby Center reached when they announced their top-100 list of boys’ and girls’ names for 2013. After studying Baby Center’s statistics Tom Purcell, writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, recalls with pleasure the names that were popular during his childhood and looks forward to the time when they make a full-fledged comeback.

Here’s a quick recap of the names he so fondly recalls—many of which were among the most popular baby names during the 40s, 50s and 60s. (Judging by the inclusion of Jeff, I’d guess he grew up in the 60s, when the top 4 girls’ names were: Lisa, Mary, Susan and Karen and Jeff was the #10 boys’ name.)

For boys: Tom, John, Jeff, Bill, Bob, Rich and Tim.
For girls: Kathy, Krissy, Lisa, Mary, Jennifer, Terri, Laura, Donna, Colleen, Karen, Susan, Janine, Holly, Sandy and Sherri.

Tom compares the way people picked names then and now.
Then, baby-naming was simple.

Parents didn’t obsess over baby names… Children were named after people their parents admired — family members or someone they were close to.

Now, baby-naming is complicated—and it can also be expensive.

A few years back, The Wall Street Journal did a report on parents who hired naming experts, applied mathematical formulas and software programs and even consulted with nutty spiritualists. One couple hired a pair of consultants to draw up a list of suggestions based on “phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins.” One woman paid a “nameologist” $350 for three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing each name’s history and personality traits. Another spent $475 on a numerologist to see if her favorite name had positive associations, whatever the heck that means. One married couple really took the cake in coming up with the name Beckett for their son. “The name sounds reliable and stable,” according to the proud dad, who said “the ‘ck’ sound is very well regarded in corporate circles. The ‘hard stop’ forces one to accentuate that syllable, which draws attention to it, he droned on.”

Purcell’s article supports the only two predictions I made for 2014:
1. As Baby Boomers (born in the 40s, 50s and 60s) age and pass away, parents will want to honor them with the names they pick for their children.
2. Parents will increasingly want to pick names that inspire their children.

Tom has something to say about the second theme, too.

“My name…carries with it a spiritual meaning. There are many Christian saints and biblical heroes named Thomas. By assigning me this name, my parents… hoped to bestow on me Christian blessings and guidance. That’s why the kids I knew at St. Germaine Catholic School all had simple biblical names. In any event, isn’t it better to name children after saints and admired people than to hire a high-priced consultant to define the right phonetics?”

Nameberry Predicts 12 Baby-Naming Trends for 2014: A Few Might Take Off; The Rest, Probably Not

Here’s a quick summary of 12 trends Nameberry has spotted on the horizon for 2014. Will all of them pan out? Will any? Nobody knows for sure, but some of the trends would be a welcome change; and some—not so much.

Which of these trends are likely to materialize in 2014? Which are pipedreams? What are the odds each will pan out? To find out, read on.

1. Eccentric Ancestor Names. Examples: Edna and Ethel, Wihelmina and Wolfgang.

Comment: This trend sounds awful. I pity the poor kids who get stuck with these gleefully discarded names. (With any luck, this trend will never pick up an momentum.) Odds 25/75.

2. Boys’ Middle Names for Girls. Examples: Autumn James, Agnes Charles and Lucy Thomas.

Comment: When I wrote about  Autumn James, I thought James might be a family name. Whether it’s a family name or a boy’s name used as s middle name for a girl, it’s confusing and off-putting. What if this idea were turned around and John Smith was given the middle name of Melissa. His full name would be John Melissa Smith. If this is a trend, I can’t think of a single good reason for anyone to introduce gender confusion and a possible source of embarrassment and teasing into middle names. Middle names should function as a dependable “insurance”policy  (aka “back-up name) in case the first name doesn’t work well for the child. But “cross-dressing’ the middle name gives the child less viable options rather than more. I hope this “trend” dies a quick and merciful death. Odds: 10/90.

Notice that Charles and Thomas could also be confused for family names. (I hope this trend dies a quick and merciful death.) Odds: 35/65.

3. Spice Names. Examples: Saffron, Ginger, Cinnamon and Lavender.

Comment: The idea of aromatic herb and spice names is very exciting. But as much as I like the idea of spice names, there aren’t that many I’d want to name a baby. Ginger  might work well for babies with yellow/tan complexions and Cinnamon might work well for babies with reddish-brown complexions. To be fair, both of those names are also descriptive of personality types. Ginger for example, may make a feisty and spirited impression; Cinnamon may project a warm and welcoming image. But that said, are there enough great spice names to fuel a hot trend? Odds: 40/60.

4. Pope Francis Spinoffs. Examples: Francisco, Francesco and Francesca, Francine, Frank and Frankie.

Comment: Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air! This trend is already happening, big time, in Italy. But, we’ll need to come up with some more attractive Francis spinoffs if this trend is going to work in the U.S.The name Francis is not exactly a “cool” name in the States. Other options, Francois and Francoise, are hard to spell and pronounce for Americans. Which leaves Frank and Frankie–which sound dated. Odds: 40/60.

5. Virtue Names for Boys. Examples: Noble, Valor, Justice, and Loyal.

Comment: Sorry to be a buzz-kill but I don’t think the bad-boy naming trend is over yet. Names from “Breaking Bad” are still hot. Faith, Hope and Chastity may work well for nuns, but they don’t go over well in high school. Names like Valor and Loyal for boys are so sappy, I don’t think this trend will ever get out of Sunday School. Odds: 25/75.

6. Is C Really the Coolest Consonant? Examples: Claire, Cordelia, Cora and Clarissa.

Comment: The girls names listed as examples are OK. But “C”-names like Clarence, Casper, Constantine and Cassius make this idea a non-starter for boys. (Muhammad Ali ditched the name Cassius, as I recall). Don’t bet more than a nickel on this trend taking off. Odds: 35/65.

7. Go Greek? Examples: Chloe, Calliope, Olympia and Cyrus.

Comment: There are plenty of attractive Greek names. For girls: Alexandra, Anastasia, Callista, Daphne, and Delia.  For boys: Alexis, Demetrius, Nicholas, Sebastian and Xander. But why Greek names? Why not French names, German names, Russian names or Polish names? There are just as many attractive names in other languages. So, why Greek names now? I suspect this “trend” is more like a shot in the dark. Odds: 40/60.

8. Boys’ Names Ending in N. Examples: Ethan, Zayden, Camden and Bryson. (Nameberry forgot to mention Jayden and Aiden which, along with Ethan, were top-ten names in 2012.)

Comment: There’s nothing new about this trend. It started about ten+ years ago, when Ethan and Nathan started their assault on the top-ten boys’ list—and when Jayden and sound-alikes were climbing the top-100 list. The bigger and more important trend is the use of soft consonants for boys, like these top-ten names: Noah, William and Alexander. Here’s why: Moms want more sensitive (less macho) boys and soft consonants are the way to go. There’s nothing new about both of these trends. And, they are both likely to last well beyond 2014. Odds: 100%.

9. Dowdy Royal Names. Examples: Helena, Maud, Albert and, of course, George.

Comment: Everyone in the U.K. was caught up in the crowds and the media coverage about this question: “What will William and Kate name the royal baby?” But after George was named, the name started sliding out of the top-ten list. Most of the names bandied about (except for Alexandra) were stuffy and boring, I think the Brits OD’d on them. So, I doubt this trend will go anywhere, either in the U.K. or in America. Odds: 20/80.

10. Joke Names. Example: North West. (Nameberry erroneously called the five names Uma Thurman gave her daughter a  joke.  The joke was that six months after announcing five mostly unspellable and unpronounceable names, Thurman informed the media that she was going to call her daughter Luna–rather than any of the five names.)

Comment: Although North West is pretty much a lock to be named “the worst celebrity baby name of 2013,” (I peeked at the research), I’m afraid that fans of Kim & Kanye, and other celebs who think it’s funny to embarrass their kids with joke names, will be tempted do the same. I hope this doesn’t happen, but some parents don’t seem to understand that a good name is one of the best gifts they can give their child. So keep those baby-naming brainstorming sessions drug and alcohol free–for your baby’s sake. (Kudos to Nameberry for speaking out against joke names.) Odds: 20/80.

11. Baby Boomer Names. Examples: Janet and Jeffrey; Patricia and Paul.

Comment: I’ve been watching parents give names like Max and Millie to their babies–presumably to honor the children’s great grandparents, before or when they die. I suppose that as Baby Boomers age, parents will name babies after them, too. Although boomer names don’t thrill me, I think the “boomer names” trend is inevitable, and not just for one year. The question is: when will it start? Odds: 80/20.

12.  Historic Hero Names. Examples: Lincoln, Scarlett, Chaplin and Dashiel.

Comment: I’m a big fan of names that will inspire children, which is why I like the idea of naming babies after famous namesakes (real or fictional) who parents admire. I wrote a post on this theme, and Lincoln should have been on my list of famous namesakes–and now is. Is this idea likely to take off? Baby Center mentioned this trend recently in conjunction with the release of their 2013 top-100 lists. Names moving up their popularity list (generated by names actually chosen by people registered on their website in 2013) included (Abraham) Lincoln, (Andrew) Jackson and Jack (Kennedy) plus fictional names like Scarlet (O’Hara). Maybe there’s some evidence to support this trend. Odds: 60/40.

Discussion: I assume that Nameberry has some recent data to support some or all of the trends they “predict” for 2014. Although Nameberry noticed the rise of “joke names,” I was glad to read they were concerned about that unwise practice. Unfortunately a number of the other trends they “predicted” are also questionable or unwise. What’s the point of being an commentator if you don’t comment?