Consider Color Names On Your Baby’s Birth Day, When You’ve Fallen In Love With Your Beautiful Baby

Some couples have trouble deciding on a name. They let the decision go until the baby is born. When they “meet” their beautiful baby for the very first time and fall in love–that’s a great time to pick a descriptive color name, that calls attention to one of your child’s most striking physical attributes). Suddenly there’s a consensus of opinion and making up your minds seems delightfully easy.

Here’s a quick list of “color names” to consider when you’re holding your baby and are struck by his amber, raven or flaming red hair or her pink, ginger or ebony complexion (to cite just a few examples):

Amber (orange-brown hair)

Blanche (fair hair or light complexion)

Cinnamon (reddish-brown hair or complexion)

Cocoa (brown hair or complexion)

Ebony (brown/black hair or complexion)

Ginger (yellow/tan hair or complexion)

Ivory (fair complexion)

Jennifer (fair hair or light complexion)

Latté* (café latté complexion)

Pink (pink cheeks)

Raven (black hair or dark complexion)

Red (flaming red hair)

Rose, Rosie (rosy complexion)

Russell (rust-colored hair)

Rusty (rust-colored hair)

Notice I am not promoting color names as a “trend” for 2014. I’m just trying to provide you with a useful option if you’re having trouble deciding on a name. Color names can help you reach agreement on an appropriate and positive name that gives you one more reason to celebrate your child’s birth day: you’ve finally picked a name you can both agree on  for the baby you both love.

*I’ve never seen this name before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if  someone else has used it.

Inspired by Nameberry’s Prediction that Spice Names Would Be Big in 2014: Here Are The Stir’s 21 Favorite Spice Names

Before being swept away by the idea of giving your child a “best-smelling name” let’s divide The Stir’s favorite spice names into names that are sometimes used for people and names that are rarely used for people.

Spice Names Sometimes Used for People: Poppy, Saffron, Sage, Rosemary, Pepper, Ginger, Basil

Spice Names Rarely (if Ever) Used for People: Bay, Juniper, Cassia, Cinnamon, Amandine, Clove, Fennel, Anise, Cayenne, Yarrrow, Lavender, Ajowan, Marjoram, Caraway,

Now let’s focus on the names that are sometimes used for people and divide them by gender, to the extent possible.

Spice Names for Boys: Pepper, Basil, Sage

Spice Names for Girls Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Rosemarie, Saffron, Poppy, Sage (I’d add Anise to the list of usable spice names )

Looking at the short lists of spice names for boys and girls, above, do you love any of them? I mean, are you jumping up and down like a WNBA basketball team that just won the national championship? I mean the most usable spice are nice. Very nice. But it’s hard to imagine any of them soaring onto a top-ten list.

Which reminds me: I had a next-door neighbor when I was in high school. She used to drive me to school on rainy or snowy days, so I didn’t have to wait for the bus. She had bright red hair; so bright that everyone called her “Carrot Top.” So her name, Ginger, fit her feisty personality better than her hair color. But just as Raven or Ebony are appropriate names for girls with dark complexions–and Blanche (which means “white”) or Ivory or Latte are appropriate names for girls with light complexions, Cinnamon is an appropriate name for girls with reddish-brown complexions and Ginger is an appropriate name for Asian girls with yellow/tan complexions. But as you can see, the focus has just changed from spice names to color names.

When I first read Nameberry’s post about “12 trends for 2014,” spice names was one of the few trends in the whole article that I liked and hoped might take off. I was thinking: “Yes! Bring on those aromatic spice names.” But now that I’m looking at The Stir’s list of 21 spice names, I’m thinking: Spice names would be a great idea if there were some, like, totally killer spice names.” But I haven’t found any yet, so I’m changing my odds for the “spice name” trend from 51/49 to 40/60. Suddenly, I don’t think that trend is going to take off quite so fast (if at all).

BTW, I noticed that The Stir didn’t include some of my favorite spices in their list of spice names: Curry, Cilantro, Cumin and Dill–probably because none of them sound much like a name for people. And that’s the fundamental problem with the majority of the 21 spice names they listed.

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?

How to Find Charming, Uncommon Names for Your Baby

If you’ve decided against selecting a time-tested traditional name for your baby, here are some ideas for finding cool, uncommon names in odd places (like a travel guide, a restaurant menu, a TV commercial or an art museum). Although picking an uncommon moniker for your child increases the risk of winding up with something that creates a “What were you thinking?” or “You must be kidding!” response, you just might discover a name that turns out to be highly memorable and appealing—thus earning you credit for your creativity and daring.

If you’re willing to pick a safe middle name in case Eureka or Ypsilanti are judged a flop as soon as your friends and relatives see the birth announcement, choosing a cool, unique name for your child can be a big plus for both the child and the parents. Your son Hudson and your daughter Monet may be the envy of all their classmates (as well as their classmates’ parents who will want to meet the pair who picked those charming names).

How do you find charming names like that? Follow this three-step procedure:

  1. Look for names in odd places: a world atlas for place names, TV commercials or print ads for brand names, art museums for art names, menus or cookbooks for food names and baby-name books for uncommon forms of common names, bird or flower guides for nature names. (Did you know that 100,000+ Baby Names has more than 600 lists of names to help parents generate cool, off-the-beaten-track ideas?)
  1. Once you’ve come up with a list of names that are worth considering, spend some time thinking about what they would be like to live with (for your child and for you). Try to narrow your choice down to a few “keepers.”Of course, there’s one more step—putting whichever names you like together with your last name (and any middle names you’re considering) to see how they all sound together. Don’t forget to check out the initials too. Some initials are just plain cool, like P.J., J.P., or K.C. Cool initials give your child another great fallback. It’s like having another middle name—without the clunkiness of actually having two middle names.

Now let’s take a look at a variety of potential names to see if we turn up any you’d call “charming.”

Place Names

For Boys: Chad, Frisco, Hudson, Reno, Rio and Santonio

For Girls: China, Georgia, India, Kenya, Siena, and Skye, Virginia

Practical Considerations: Most of these names are recognizable enough to be quite easy to spell and pronounce. Most of them also paint a picture (that is, either charming or memorable—or both). I can imagine a difference of opinion about the “charm factor” for China, India, Kenya, Hudson and Reno. But I doubt many would find Rio, Siena, Santonio or Frisco problematic with regard to charm.

Food and Spice Names

For Girls: Brie, Cinnamon, Ginger, Olivia, Pepper, Saffron and Sage.

For Boys, Herb, Huckleberry, Macintosh, Oliver and Sage

Practical Considerations: Olivia and Oliver are variations of Olive and both make a positive impression and work well as names, as does Brie for girls. Ginger and Pepper both create a “spunky” or “spicy” impression for girls.  Sage is more of a gender-neutral name which can work equally well for either gender. Herb is a rather old-fashioned name and, of course, the “H” isn’t silent. In my opnion, the shorter variations of Huckleberry (Huck) and Macintosh (Mac) work better for boys than the longer versions.

Color Names

For Girls: Amber, Blanche, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Ebony, Ginger, Ivory and Raven

For Boys: Russell, Rusty

Practical considerations: Color names can be a blessing when you’ve put off picking a name until you are cradling  the baby in your arms. Color names can help you describe your child’s most striking physical attributes (such as hair color and complexion) in a name that can break a tie and “seal the deal.” (Notice that several spice names also work as color names.)

Brand Names

For Boys: Chevy, Harley, Levi, Lincoln and Stetson

For Girls: Chanel, Kia, Macy, Mercedes and Sierra

Practical Considerations: Most people are familiar with these brand names, so spelling and pronunciation aren’t likely to cause problems. However, these brands will probably appeal to people on different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, in different parts of the country, and with different tastes. Chanel, Mercedes and Lincoln are more upscale; Macy appeals to the broad middle; Levi, Stetson and Sierra appeal to folks who may live out west or enjoy country-western music; Chevy is an “All-American” brand and Kia is a zippy brand that appeals to folks with modest bank accounts or with a “green” sensibility.

Ten or twenty years ago, many parents who shopped at Wal-Mart and Target chose Tiffany as a name for their bouncing bundle of joy, perhaps to project a more upscale image. You don’t need a 7-figure income to pick a million-dollar name.

Art Names

For Boys: Calder, Jasper, Hockney, Leonardo, Raphael, Rockwell, Sargent and Stuart

For Girls: Hartley, Mona Lisa, Monet and Stella

Practical Considerations: There’s a risk in choosing an “arty” name that won’t be immediately recognizable to most people. However, many of the names on the list above are familiar to most people. Who has not heard of the Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Monet’s water lilies, Calder’s colorful mobiles, Norman Rockwell’s poignant illustrations for “The Saturday Evening Post” and Georgia O’keeffe’s mesmerizing close-ups of flowers and iconic southwestern images.

Alternate Forms of Common Names

For Boys: Geo (a short form of George), Lucky (a familiar form of Luke), Rafa (a short form of Raphael), Ringo (a Japanese name meaning “apple”)

For Girls: Nita (a short form of Anita and Juanita), Rita (a short form of Marguerite and Margarita), Cielo (a Spanish form of “Heaven”), Colette or Cosette (French forms of Nicole)

Practical Considerations: Most of these names are easy to spell and pronounce. Both French names (Cosette and Collette) make a literary or arty impression. Cielo not only sounds beautiful, it means “Heaven” in Spanish. And Nita is like Rita, a short Spanish form of names ending in “nita” or “rita.” The boys’ names are mainly short forms of names that are more religious, arty or stodgy. Most are informal and fun. Of course, it may be hard to imagine Ringo, Rafa and Lucky as classical composers, Ph.D. candidates or members of a prestigious law firm.

Last Names of Famous People

For Boys: Beckham, Lincoln

For Girls: Anniston, Lennon, Harlow

Practical Considerations: Here’s a way to find charming, uncommon names. I recently added Anniston, Lennon and Harlow to 100,000+ Baby Names when they landed on the top-1,000 girls’ list. Ditto for Beckham when it landed on the top-1,000 boys’ list. Lincoln, of course, is the last name of a famous president which just moved onto the top-100 boys’ list at #95. It’s not exactly “uncommon,” but it’s not too common, yet, to use. Did you notice that Anniston is not exactly spelled the way actress Jennifer Aniston spells her last name? Parents who selected it for their daughters presumably added the extra “n” so Anniston could function as an updated version of Ann, a girls’ name that has been used in English-speaking countries for centuries.

Nature Names

For Boys: Ash, Clay, Cliff, Forrest, Jasper, River, Robin, Sage

For Girls: Gale, Heather, Ivy, Lily, River, Robin, Sage, Stormy, Violet, Willow,

Practical considerations: Here’s another effective way to find charming, uncommon names. In the process of compiling a list of boys’ and girls’ nature names I noticed that this category provides an excellent source of gender-neutral names.

I hope that reading this post motivates you to consider other off-the-beaten-path name categories such as: literary names (e.g., Webster)  sports names (e.g., Kirby)  and celestial names (e.g. Orion).

© 2013 Bruce Lansky, © 2015 Bruce Lansky
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