Pamela Redmond Satran’s Latest Thoughts About Names That Do and Don’t Age Well

After taking a brief vacation from blogging, imagine my delight at receiving an invitation from Google Alert to read an article by Pamela Redmond Satran about names that don’t age well–and how to avoid that problem.

Satran starts by pointing out that names popular enough to show up on top-ten (boys’ or girls’) lists are likely to give your age away. I listed some girls’ and boys’ names with one or two decades of popularity. I made separate lists of names that had much longer periods of popularity—from 30 to to 59, 69, 89 or more than years of popularity. For example, Mary has 69 years on top-ten popularity lists on the girls’ side and boys’ names with 89 or more years of popularity on the boys’ side include Robert, John James and William. (Of those boys’ names, only William has been listed among the ten most popular names from 1900 through 2014.)

Girls’ Names with One or Two Decades of Popularity

2000 to 2014: Isabella, Sophia, Madison
1990 to 2009: Samantha
1980 to 1999: Jessica, Amanda, Sarah
1970 to 1989: Jennifer, Stephanie, Melissa, Nicole, Heather
1960 to 1979: Michelle, Lisa
1950 to 1969: Susan
1940 to 1958: Linda
1930 to 1939: Shirley
1920 to 1939: Betty
1920 to 1929: Doris

Girls’ Names with Three or More Decades of Popularity

1980 to 2014: Emily
1980 to 2009: Elizabeth and Ashley
1900 to 1939: Dorothy
1900 to 1969: Mary

Boys’ Names with One or Two Decades of Popularity

1990 to 2014: Jacob
1990 to 1999: Tyler and Nicholas
1990 to 2009: Andrew
1960 to 1969: Jeffrey
1950 to 1969: Mark

Boys’ Names with Three or More Decades of Popularity

1980 to 2014: Daniel
1970 to 2009: Christopher, Matthew
1950 to 2014: Michael
1940 to 1989: David
1930 to 1969: Richard
1900 to 1969: Thomas
1900 to 1959: Charles
1900 to 1989: Robert, John, James
1900 to 2014: William

I agree with Satran that when names which have been popular for a decade or two (or more) drop off the top–ten list they start showing their age and the age of anyone who acquires that name while it was still highly popular. But keep in mind that the title of Satran’s article is “Names That Age Well.”

Girls names like Mary, Dorothy, Doris, Betty and Shirley sound like great-grandmother names. Boomer names like Linda and Susan are now grandma names. On the boys’ side, Boomer names like Mark and Jeffrey are now grandpa names. But names like Charles, Thomas and Richard, though associated with great grandfathers, still tend to maintain a level of acceptability as what Satran calls “classic” (and I call “traditional”) names that “old-fashioned” girls’ names like Betty Doris and Shirley don’t retain.

In her article, Satran makes a case for using names that have “deep meaning,” by which she means

“the name of someone you loved and admired, the name of your favorite fictional character, the name of the lake where you spent every childhood summer. That deep meaning will resonate far more for you and your child than any swings of fashion.”

And I think she means that if you love your great grandmother Betty or Doris or Dorothy, that “deep meaning” trumps how old and arthritic or dead and buried those names now sound.

But parents who are picking names for their child rarely only consider one name. And when making the final selection, it would be folly to pick a name that has been passed down from generation to generation and has always been a source of embarrassment or teasing. Hand-me-down family names like Pierpont or Francis or Carroll or great-grandmother names like Doris or Mildred or Shirley are just as likely to frustrate your child as they bothered other relatives who got stuck with them (except perhaps the original Betty who was given the name when movie star Betty Davis was still popular). You don’t want your child to complain about his or her name to friends who share the sentiment: “What were they thinking (or drinking or smoking) when your parents made that inconsiderate choice?”

But what interests me most about Satran’s article is her queer notion that picking highly unusual names will help parents “sidestep” the problem of sticking their child with a name that won’t age well.

“Unusual names, which we might define (at least for American parents) as those that lie outside the Top 1000, can transcend time, especially if they’re not among those unusual names that seem poised to zoom up the popularity charts…The trick is to pick an unusual name that’s appealing yet sidesteps stylishness. Augusta and Delphine might qualify for girls, while Noble or Leopold might work for boys.”

I can’t understand how she or anyone can maintain that archaic names found in the “recycle bin” whose popularity is below 1,000–like Augusta and Delphine, Noble or Leopold–would be more appealing, attractive, comfortable to live with and age better than almost any other name you could pick out of a hat, blindfolded. In fact that’s just what Augusta and Noble sound like: names picked out of a hat on an unlucky day. To be more specific, why is Delphine more likely to “age well” than Delia, Delilah , Dulce or Diana? Why is Leopold a better choice to stave off aging than Leonardo, Leonard, Levi or Lorenzo? I don’t know and I don’t think Satran does either.

Here’s a thought to keep in mind when someone suggests a name that has a low (sub-1,000) popularity rank: If it’s a relatively recent name like Apple, Blue Ivy or North, the name could have a low popularity rank for two reasons: 1) Not many people have heard of the name. 2) People have heard of the name, but don’t like it. But if the name under discussion is one or more centuries old, like Delphine, Augusta and Leopold, the main reason for it’s low popularity is that people don’t like the name.

There’s nothing wrong with calling attention to out-of-favor old names to bring in the hope that people who hadn’t heard of them might like them. But Satran’s recommended names are very old, so it doesn’t make sense to say they will “age well.” They will always sound like very old names.





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?”

Freshen Up Those 40s, 50s, and 60s Names Before Giving One to Your Baby

As Baby Boomers age and eventually pass away, it’s a safe bet that parents will want to honor, celebrate or thank members of the previous generation by naming babies after them. Problem is, baby-naming trends and tastes have changed since the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Here are the most popular Baby-Boomer girls’ names from the 40s, 50s and 60s: Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith, Susan, Deborah, Karen, Donna, Lisa, Kimberly, Michelle, Cynthia

Let’s compare them to the top-10 girls’ names in 2012: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Mia, Madison, Elizabeth

By comparison, current girls’ names seem:
more glamorous (e.g., movie-star and tie-in names like Sophia, Ava, Olivia and Madison)
more elegant (e.g., queen’s names like Isabella, Elizabeth).

Hence Baby Boomer girls’ names from the 40s, 50s, and 60s come across as more middle class and less charming.

Here are the most popular Baby Boomer boys’ names from the 40s, 50s and 60s: James, Robert, John, William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael Ronald; Mark, Jeffrey

Let’s compare them to the top-10 boys’ names in 2012: Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Noah, William, Liam, Jayden, Michael, Alexander, Aiden

By comparison, boys’ names are now:
softer: (e.g., more names use “soft consonants” like Ethan, Mason, Liam, and Noah)
less traditional, more informal (e.g., Liam is a nickname for William; Jayden is a faddy name that became very popular)
more ethnically varied: (e.g., Liam and Aiden are Irish names)

Hence Baby Boomer names from the 40s, 50s, and 60s come across as more traditional, formal and stronger-sounding.

So, if you want to give your baby a name that recognizes or pays tribute to a family member or family friend born in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, you may want to freshen up those names by looking at alternate forms of the same names or sound-alike names that start with the same letter and have some of the same sounds as the baby-boomer names. The goal of this post is to provide you with a number of fresh options to help you honor family and friends from the previous generation in a way that will be a pleasure for both you and your child.

Below are the most popular 40s, 50s, and 60s girls’ names followed by several options you may want to consider.

Here are the top-ten names for girls born in the 40s:

Mary (Hebrew) bitter; Bible: the mother of Jesus
Marie a French form of Mary; History: The name of a leading revolutionary figure in the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette
Marina (Latin) sea
Marisa (Latin) sea
Marcella (Latin) martial

Linda (Spanish) pretty
Lin (Chinese) beautiful jade; (English) a form of Lynn
Linden (English) linden-tree hill
Lindsey (English) linden
Linley (English) flax meadow-tree island
Linnea (Scandinavian) lime tree

Barbara (Latin) stranger, foreigner
Barett (German) strong as a bear
Barrie (Irish) spear; markswoman
Bebe a Spanish form of Barbara
Berry (English) berry

Patricia (Latin) noblewoman
Patrice a French form of Patricia
Payten, Payton, Peyton Irish forms of Patricia
Tricia, Trisha short forms of Patricia

Carol (German) farmer; (French) song of joy
Carolina an Italian form of Carol
Caroline a French form of Carol
Carolyn a compound name: Carol + Lynn
Carrie a familiar form of Carol

Sandra a short form of Alexandra
Alexandra (Greek) defender of mankind
Xandra a variation of Sandra
Zandra a variation of Sandra

Nancy (English) gracious
Nanette a French form of Nancy
Nana (Hawaiian) spring
Nani (Greek) charming; (Hawaiian) beautiful

Sharon (Hebrew) desert plain
Shari (French) beloved, dearest; a Hungarian form of Sarah
Sharrona an American variation of Sharon

Judith (Hebrew) praised
Jude (Latin) a short form of Judah, Judas; Bible: one of the 12 apostles

Susan (Hebrew) lily
Sukey (Hawaiian) a familiar form of Susan
Suzette a French form of Susan
Zanna a short form of Suzanna

Popular in the 50s:

Deborah (Hebrew) bee; Bible: an Old Testament prophet
Debra a short form of Deborah

Karen (Greek) pure
Kari a familiar form of Karen; a Danish form of Carol
Karin a Scandinavian form of Karen
Karina a Russian form of Karen
Carina a Swedish form of Karen; a Greek form of Cora; (Italian) dear little one

Donna (Italian) lady
Doncia (Spanish) sweet
Donia, Donise variations of Donna
Donielle (American) an alternate form of Danielle

Popular in the 60s:

Lisa (Hebrew) consecrated to God; (English) a short form of Elisabeth
Lissa (Greek) honey bee; a short form of Melissa
Lisette a French form of Lisa

Kimberly (English) chief, ruler
Kim a shore form of Kimberly; (Vietnamese) needle
Kimi (Japanese) righteous
Kimiko (Japanese) righteous child

Michelle a French form of Michaela
Michaela, Mikaela (Hebrew) who is like God?
Mica, Micah short forms of Michael: Biblical: an Old Testament prophet
Michele an Italian form of Michelle
Michiko (Japanese) wise child

Cynthia (Greek) moon; Mythology: an alternate name for Artemis, the moon goddess
Cyndee, Cyndi, Cindy familiar forms of Cynthia

Below are the most popular 40s, 50s, and 60s boys’ names followed by “fresher” options you may want to consider.

Here are the top-ten names for boys born in the 40s:

James (Hebrew) supplanter, substitute; an English form of Jacob; Bible: two of the apostles in the New Testament were named James
Jaime a Spanish form of Jacob, James
Jamey, Jamie familiar forms of James
Jamal, Jamil, Jamel (Arabic) handsome
Seamus an Irish form of James

Robert (English) famous brilliance
Robin a short form of Robert
Roberto a Spanish, Italian, Portuguese form of Robert

John (Hebrew) God is gracious; Bible: the name honors John the Baptist and John the Evangelist of the New Testament.
Evan an English form of John; (Irish) young warrior
Gianni an Italian form of Johnny
Giovanni an Italian form of John
Hans, Hansel Scandinavian forms of John
Ivan a Russian form of John
Sean an Irish form of John

William an English form of Wilhelm (German) determined guardian
Bill a short form of William
Liam an Irish short form of William
Will a short form of William(English) Will’s son

Richard an English form of Richart (German) rich and powerful ruler
Rick a short form of Richard
Richmond (German) powerful protector

David (Hebrew) beloved; Bible: the second king of Israel
Davis (Hebrew) David’s son
Dave a short form of David
Davin, Davon (Scandinavian) brilliant, Finn

Charles (German) farmer; (English) strong and manly
Carlo an Italian form of Charles
Carlos a Spanish form of Charles
Carlton (English) Carl’s town
Charlie, Charley familiar forms of Charles
Chas, Chaz, Chazz short forms of Charles
Chuck (American) a familiar form of Charles

Thomas (Greek, Aramaic) twin; Bible: one of the 12 apostles
Tom a short form of Thomas
Tomas German, Irish and Spanish forms of Thomas
Tomey, Tomi Irish forms of Thomas
Tomi a Hungarian form of Thomas; (Japanese) rich

Michael (Hebrew) Who is like God?
Michel a French form of Michael
Micah a short form of Michael; Bible: an Old Testament prophet
Miguel a Spanish form of Michael
Mike a short form of Michael

Ronald a Scottish form of Reginald (English) king’s advisor
Reggie a short form of Reginald
Reynaldo a Spanish form of Reynold, Reginald, Ronald
Ronan (Irish) seal

Popular in the 50s:

Mark a short form of Marcus
Marc a French form of Marcus
Marcus (Latin) martial, warlike; Bible: author of the second gospel in the New Testament
Marco an Italian form of Marcus; History: Marco Polo was a thirteenth century Venetian who explored Asia
Marcos a Spanish form of Marcus

Popular in the 60s:

Jeffrey (English) divinely peaceful
Geoffrey (Old English) an alternate form of Jeffrey; Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Canterbury Tales”
Jeff: A short form of Jeffrey

If the family member or family friend from the Baby-Boomer generation was not on top-ten popularity lists during the 40s, 50s and 60s, take a look at different forms of the name and name-book neighbors to come up with some fresher-sounding options for yourself.

Two High-Odds Baby Naming Predictions I’d Bet On for 2014 (and Beyond)

Here are two baby-naming trends I think are high odds for 2014 (and beyond) because an increasing number of parents are looking for names that will have “personal meaning” for the parents and the child.

1. Baby Boomer Names Are Making a Comeback

Like Jenna Bush Hager, who named her baby daughter Margaret Laura (after the two grandmothers), millions of parents want to pick “meaningful” names for their babies which honor family members who are more than likely to be baby boomers (a term that describes babies born between 1945 and 1964). Here’s a quick list of the most popular names for girls and boys born in the 40s and 50s and 60s:

-The most popular names for girls born in the 40s were Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith, Susan; with Deborah/Debra, Karen and Donna added in the 50s; and Lisa, Kimberly, Michelle and Cynthia added in the 60s.

Comment: Notice that the most popular baby boomer girls’ names come across as much less glamorous and elegant than current top-10 names like Olivia, Sophia, Ava, and Isabella. That may call for a little creativity when you honor family members with the more prosaic boomer names.

-The most popular names for boys born in the 40s were James, Robert, John, William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald; with Mark added in the 50s; and Jeffrey added in the 60s.

Comment: Two of these names, Michael and William, are still extremely popular. The rest of the names are reasonable options for current use with the possible exception of Richard, due to negative connotations of the nickname, Dick–which is often used with unflattering words like “tricky” or “dirty” or “head.”

Executional Tips: Keep in mind when honoring a relative that there’s no reason you can’t do what Jenna Bush Hager did: name your child after a grandparent and pick another name you plan to use every day. (Jenna Bush Hager wasn’t shy about letting everyone know that Mila was the name she would call Margaret Laura.) And, you don’t have to use the exact version of the name used by a relative. You can use Liam instead of William or Annika instead of Ann. Or, you can just use the first initial–like the “L” from Linda and name your baby Lola.

2.The Use of Inspiring Historical or Fictional  Namesakes Is on the Rise.

Another way to pick a “meaningful” name for your baby is to find a name likely to inspire your child. An effective way to do that is to find a favorite historical or fictional namesake you think would be a good influence or role model for your child. Baby Center documented the fact that names like Lincoln, Jackson, and Jack recently gained in popularity. (Those names are associated with presidents Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and Jack Kennedy.) They also noticed gains made by names of literary characters like Scarlett (O’Hara).

“Trainwreck Alert”: Baby Center’s report went on to document the effect of TV shows, like “Duck Dynasty” on naming trends. But not long after Baby Center published their “2013” trend report, “Duck Dynasty” started receiving negative national media attention due to highly unpalatable comments verbalized by lead actor, Phil Robertson. This illustrates why it is so risky to pick names associated with current TV shows and current celebrities–as opposed to historical or literary namesakes. Here’s a brief list of celebrities whose image has recently changed for the worse as a result of “bad news ” that has come out about them: Paula Deen, Lance Armstrong, Amanda Bynes, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Phil Robertson (which also casts a dark shadow over “Duck Dynasty” character names). Why risk burdening your child with a name connected with a current celebrity or TV show whose image could easily go from “cute,” “all-American,” or “squeaky clean” to “DUI,” “doper,” or or just plain “out to lunch”?

People who named their babies Lance a couple of years ago (when Lance Armstrong was perceived to be an “all-American” athlete who struggled against cancer to become one of the greatest bikers of all time and was viewed as one of the few uncorrupted bikers on earth) seemed to have picked a terrific name for their baby boys. Now, Lance is not just like all other bikers; he’s much worse. How can Lance possibly be an inspiration for your son?

Which is why Jesse (Owens), Lincoln (aka Honest Abe) or (the biblical) David are better choices than Lance by far. You know what you’re getting when you pick an inspiring historical (or literary) name (rather than the name of a current celebrity or TV show character).

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?