Nameberry’s 12 Hot Baby-Naming Trends for 2015

 

Natalie Boog has listed 12 hot trends for 2015 that are well-worth considering. In this post I will summarize them and consider the timeliness and value of Nameberry’s predictions.

1. Word Names

Natalie Boog defines “word names” as being different from traditional names (like Olivia and William). Word names include: virtue names (like Noble and Honor), nature names (like Sage and River), title names (like Royal and Saint), personality names (like Rowdy and Rogue), sound names (uzz) and tech names (like Lazer) and claims they will abound in 2015.

Comment: Nothing new about this trend, it’s been going on for years. Boog forgot to mention place names (like Hudson and Paris) and food names (like Coco and Brie). Honestly , this is ancient history. They also forgot to mention trade names (like Harper and Miller)—which they refer to as “er” names in trend #2, below. However, personality names, sound names and tech names have not been mentioned much per se. So that’s a helpful insight. (Although Maverick, a personality name, popped up as a name around the time that Sara Palin was running for VP with John McCain.)

2. Girls’ Names that End in “ella”; Boys’ Names that End it “ett”

Boog points to the popularity of girls’ names like Isabella, Arabella, Mirabella and Rosabella. She also mentions the popularity of boys’ names like Emmett, Everett and Bennett. Up-and-coming name endings Boog mentions are “er” names (like Harper and Miller) and “as” names like (Silas and Zacharias).

Comment: Endings or “suffixes” are what I commonly refer to in my annual trend report. I’ve referred to “ella,” “ett” as well as “trade names” in my trend reports over the last five years. Isabella has been extremely popular for at least five years. Nothing new about this “prediction.”

3. Gender-Bending with Boys on Top

Boog reports a growing number of “unisex” names that have been used by both genders. She claims that some unisex names previously used mainly for boys were being abandoned as names for boys. But now, she claims, that trend is reversing, “with statistics showing boys are already reclaiming popular unisex names such as Alexis, Casey, Devon, Elisha, Jamie, Jordan, Kai, Milan, Robin, Rory, Rowan, Sidney, Tatum, and Tracy.”

Comment: This is new information that will be of great interest to parents who pick unisex names for their child before they know its gender and to parents who are worried that some “unisex” names are no longer used by boys. (See trend # 12, below).

4. Names Are Heading South

It makes sense that the use of southern states and cities as place names would become more popular as the population of southern cities and states increase (in comparison with the population of northern cities and states). Boog mentions the growing popularity of state names like Georgia, Tennessee, Carolina and Alabama and coastal names like Ocean, Dune and Beach.

Comment: This trend has been going on for years. In 2013, girls’ place names that increased in popularity included Georgia, Virginia, Charlotte and Dallas–as did Dakota, Londyn, Ireland and Milan. (Consider the fact that North Dakota is booming due to the discovery of huge quantities of fossil fuels there–and that Ireland’s status as a tax haven has brought in lots of new businesses and people. This “trend” may reflect changes in population more than anything else.

5. “O” is the Now Vowel

Boog mentions that Milo, Theo and other “o-ending” boys’ names have been popular for a while. Now Nameberry predicts that Juno, Marlow, Harlow, Margo(t), Willow, Indigo and Shiloh will all prove popular.

Comment: Willow made a big upward move in popularity 2013. It’s a reasonable bet that “o-ending” girls’ names will follow Milo and Theo.

6. “X” is the Now Consonant

Boog claims that “x” gives names an element of cool whether it comes at the end of a name, like Felix, Hendrix, Beatrix and Lennox or in the middle of a name like Axel, Baxter, Dexter, Maxine, Pixie and Roxana.

Comment: “X-names” have been hot for the last five or more years—a trend that may have been launched by Brangelina’s name choices. When Boog writes that “this may result in seeing a few Jaxsen or Jaxsons along the way too” she is admitting that the “X-name” trend is extremely well established—already.

7. Short & Simple

Boog has spotted a trend in Europe. Short and snappy names are becoming increasingly popular; she thinks that trend is coming to the U.S. “Popular in Europe, the top contenders for girls include Isa, Eva, Ida, Lou, Lia, and Tess, while for boys Nameberry’s picking Ben, Finn, Jack, Leon, Max, and Tom.”

Comment: The above-mentioned boys’ names are already growing at a fast pace in the U.S. Nothing new about that trend. I’d welcome short, informal names that are easy to spell and pronounce for girls, too.

8. Colorful Names

Boog points out that Violet, Blue and Scarlett are already in common use. Her prediction: “get ready for a color explosion in 2015 with more extreme shades coming into play. Think Indigo, Azure, Cerulean, Magenta, Fuschia, Crimson, Lavender, Lilac and even Mauve.”

Comment: I would welcome this trend, if it actually occurs, because some of the colors are quite lovely (I’m partial to Indigo), but I’d be surprised (and disappointed) if hard-to-spell and/or pronounce names like Cerulean, Fuschia, and Mauve make much of a move in 2015.

9. Save the Middle Name for a Hero

Boog notes that middle names are often used for family favorites, but Nameberry has discovered that “more people are looking to heroes for naming inspiration”–referring to favorite authors, musicians, athletes or political heroes. She ends with this noble sentiment: “And why not use the middle name to give your child someone to look up to?”

Comment: Why not indeed! I’ve been urging parents to pick names that will inspire their children for years and have complained about pundits who recommend (or promote) impractical and unwise names likely to inconvenience their children and in some cases result in derision and ridicule (like Cerulean, Fushia, Mauve, Lettice, Fenella, Rowdy and Rogue) to name seven examples that come readily to mind. I’m glad that someone at Nameberry is starting realize that promoting names that give children “someone to look up to” is a good thing to do. Now they need to realize that promoting impractical, silly and demeaning names is a bad thing to do.

10. Veggie Names

Boog is jumping on the good-for-you name bandwagon by identifying a veggie-name trend. Kale and Cale are both on the rise and so are Lettice and Romaine.

Comment: Kale (or Cale) sounds like they might work for boys; Romaine might work even better for girls. I don’t think much of Lettice (or Lettuce) as names. Nameberry must realize that publishing articles about naming trends is likely to create attention for the names they publish and cause people to consider using them. Why not point out which names are worth choosing and which should be avoided? Why suggest Lettice if the name will subject any child who bears that name to ridicule?

11. Celtic Names

Liam is currently on North American top-ten lists; now parents are looking for “other Celtic choices.” Boog predicts parents will turn to Scottish names like Fiona, Flora, Fenella, Greer, Isla and Elspeth as top picks for girls, while Finlay, Angus, Duncan, Ewan and Lachlan for the boys.

Comment: I was surprised when Boog left Isla off the short & simple list. Here it is now as a “Scottish” pick along with several other Scottish names likely to take hold, including Greer and Duncan. Some of the other predictions: Fiona, Fenella Elspeth Angus and Lachlan are less likely to catch on in “the states” by 2015. Ian is an example of a British name that took a while to get a toehold on this side of the Atlantic—which is why I think Ewan is likely to catch on too—eventually.

12. Distinctly Gendered “Unisex” Names

The unisex names referred to in prediction # 3, above, are used fairly evenly between girls and boys, but other names that may seem unisex are, in reality, distinctly gendered. Boog reports that Addison, Bailey, Kendall, Kennedy, McKenzie, and Sloane are mainly used for girls; while Cameron, Grayson, Jayce, and Kellen are mainly used for boys.

Comment: If true, this is very helpful information–though it doesn’t read like a prediction for 2015, does it?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

“Why Do the Rich and Famous Give Their Children Such Ridiculous Names?” –Peaches Geldof

I want to thank David Kates for calling my attention to a quote from the late Peaches Geldof in a column she wrote discussing Apple, the name Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin selected for their daughter about ten years ago:

“Why do the rich and famous give their children such ridiculous names? Mine has haunted me all my life, and will continue to do so. I am named, as you may have noticed, after a fruit. I’m not Jane or Sarah or Samantha: I am Peaches.”

I’m always amazed to read celebrity birth announcements in People, Us and other entertainment (gossip) columns and blogs and like Nameberry which treat ridiculous baby names as though they are cute, charming or fashionable and portray the A-list celebrities who give ridiculous names to their children as brilliant trend-setters and visionaries.

I read David Kate’s “Dad-in-Training column all the way through and couldn’t figure out what his point of view was about baby-naming except that he seemed to think that picking a name was an important decision for parents to make. Now there’s a novel idea!

P.S. Just read a news item about Peaches Geldof which informed me that forensic investigators have turned up evidence that her recent death might have been caused by a heroin overdose. Sad, isn’t it?

Linda Rosenkrantz’ Article About Greek and Roman Mythological Names Is Worth a Read

I enjoyed reading Linda Rosenkrantz’s article comparing Ancient Greek and Roman mythological names, even though it doesn’t contain many names you’re likely to choose for your next baby. However, I agree with Rosenkrantz that Diana, Juno (and perhaps Venus, Victoria and  Minerva) are worth considering.

I found the article interesting because I didn’t get the impression that Rosenkrantz was trying to “promote” any of these mythological names. Instead, she lets us know which of them have been used by celebrities for their own children (for example, Tina Fey named her daughter Athena and Kelly Rutherford named her son Hermes). The truth is that few of the names for mythological gods and goddesses she writes about are often used as names for humans. I find it interesting that biblical names for flawed humans are much more often used than the names of Greek and Roman deities, who in many respects were perfect and exemplary.

P.S. Rosenkrantz’s article about nicknames continues to be one of my favorite Nameberry articles.

After 18 Years as YingYing, She Decided to Change Her Name to Something More American

YingYing Shang has wanted to change her name since she was 7 years old. She was teased to tears and made to feel “foreign” even when teachers and acquaintances had not intended to hurt her feelings.

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have a weird name until you have one. (That’s why it bothers me when “name experts,” like Pamela Redmond Satran and Aela Mass of Nameberry, recommend names likely to cause embarrassment, teasing and even bullying.) Here’s a quick glimpse of what YingYing went through and why she was so motivated to change her name:

“Having an ethnic name in America has its difficulties. Growing up, my given name, YingYing, was distorted in more ways than you can possibly imagine — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. The simplest situations that necessitated introducing myself to a stranger would make me cringe in apprehension. I learned to anticipate the extended pause when a substitute teacher reached my name on the attendance list, and raise my hand preemptively to spare them the pain.

“Last name Shang? It’s YingYing. That’s YingYing, with two Is.”

The simplest tasks, from ordering a Starbucks to giving my name to a service attendant at the mall, were fraught with mishaps.

Even when my name was spelled and pronounced correctly, an ethnic name comes with the unshakable assumption of foreignness.

Despite being 17 and supposedly hardened to the cruelty of the world, there was still a particular sting when an anonymous commenter wrote snidely on one of my pieces, “There’s a grammar mistake, but good luck telling someone named YingYing Shang about an English error.”

I’m impressed by the name YingYing chose as her new “American” name, Eva. It’s an alternate form of Eve, a Hebrew name that means “life.” And it’s a short form of Evangelina, a Greek name that means “bearer of good news.” Maybe Eva noticed that girls’ names ending with an “a” are increasing in popularity and that Ava is currently the #5 most popular girl’s name. The long “e” vowel sound of Eva reminds her of the repeated long “e” vowel sounds of YingYing. So after thinking about changing her name for eleven years, I think Eva Shang made a wise choice in selecting her new “American” name.

I’m grateful to YingYing for sharing her story so we’ll be more empathetic when we meet people with awkward-sounding names they didn’t choose and I’m grateful to xoJane for publishing it.

 

 

 

11 Alternatives to Old-Fashioned and Ancient Boys’ Names You Can Use in 2014

I have no idea why Pamela Redmond Satran spends so much time and energy recommending and promoting clunky, old names that are rarely used for very good reasons. I’m referring to boys’ names like Randolph, Archibald, Dashiell, Benedict, Finian, Wolfgang, and Horace, (to list just seven names from Satran’s most recent posts). One thing is for certain: calling out-of-date names stylish doesn’t magically make them stylish. Ralph Lauren loves to study old fashions, but instead of stitch-for-stitch replication of fashions, say, from the 1890s, 1920s or 1940s, or 1960s, he updates those fashions to give them a more contemporary look–so people will enjoy, and look good, wearing them.

Of course, that takes time, effort, inspiration and a desire to be of service to one’s customers (which, switching back to baby names, would be readers). In a previous post I labeled some of Satran’s least usable recommendations odd, old-fashioned, off-putting and ancient. Seems to me an interest in unusable old names could be put to good use by simply refreshing or updating those “dinosaurs.”

Presenting: 11 Contemporary Options to Old-fashioned or Ancient Names for Boys

Randolph Fictional Namesake: Randolph Duke, old-fashioned, bow-tie-wearing Wall Street tycoon in “Trading Places” (1983) as portrayed by Ralph Bellamy.
Instead of Randolph, consider Randall.

Mortimer Fictional Namesake: Mortimer Duke, old-fashioned, bow-tie-wearing Wall Street Tycoon in the 1980s in “Trading Places” (1983) as played by Don Ameche.
Instead of Mortimer, consider Morgan.

Archibald Namesake: Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) Poet, Playwright and Librarian of Congress in the1940s, ’50s and ’60s
Instead of Archibald, consider Archer.

Cornelius Namesake: Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1807) American steamboat steamship and railroad magnate in the 1830s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s)
Instead of Cornelius, consider Connor.

Benedict Namesake: Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was an American hero in the battle for Fort Ticonderoga in the 1775 who was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress. In 1780 he was given command of West Point and, in an act of treason, he tried to turn West Point over to British. Later he served as Brigadier General for the British and eventually moved to Britain.
Instead of Benedict, consider Bennett.

Wolfgang Namesake: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was one of all-time great classical composers and musicians who composed more than 600 works.
Instead of Wofgang, consider Wolf.

Phileas Fictional Namesake: Phileas Fogg, protagonist in the 1873 Jules Verne novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.
Instead of Phileas, consider Phillip or Phil.

Dashiell Namesake: Dashiel Hammett (1894-1961) author of hard-boiled detective novels and screenplays, including The Maltese Falcon, and The Thin Man.
Instead of Dashiell, consider Dash.

Finian Fictional Namesake: Finian, the protagonist of Broadway Musical, Finian’s Rainbow (1947) who moves from Ireland to Missitucky to bury a pot of gold in the hope that it will grow.
Instead of Finian, consider Finn.

Valdemar and Waldemar Namesakes: Fifteen Kings of Denmark, Sweden and Prussia from the 1141 to 1945.
Instead of Valdemar, Waldemar and Waldo, consider Walden.

Horace Namesake:Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC to 8 BC) was known to the world as Horace, the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.
Instead of Horace, consider Horst.

 

Pamela Satran Hides 15 Usable Names In a List of 100 Mostly Unusable, Rarely-Used Names

I have no idea why Pamela Redmund Satran would want to scatter (in effect hiding) 15 usable names in a long list of Rarely-Used Boys’ Names most of which are problematic for any child who gets them. Why? Because they will strike many as cartoonish, odd, off-putting, old-fashioned, ancient, strange and/or unrecognizable.

Here Are 36 Examples of Problematic Names That Aren’t Used Much Any More for Good Reason:

Cartoonish names: Linus, Abner, Casper, Waldo, Kermit, Homer
Odd names: Basil, Eamon, Vladimir, Boaz, Wolfgang, Caspian, Cosmo
Off-Putting names: Benedict, Enoch, Valentine, Ambrose
Old-fashioned names: Archibald, Woodrow, Clarence, Cornelius, Alistair, Thaddeus, Rupert, Randolph, Phineas
Ancient names: Obadiah, Esau, Horace, Horatio, Leander, Ignatius
Strange, Unrecognizable names: Ozias, Osias, Amias

Why would Pamela Redmond Satran choose to hide 15 pretty good names among such a long list of mostly unusable, unusual names. Maybe the idea of discriminating between names that will strike most people as usable and names that will strike most people as unusable is not in her job description. Or, maybe she’s penurious and likes the idea having someone like me organize and edit her list, without paying me a penny.

Here are the 15+ Usable Names Satran Tried to Hide:

Gordon
Grey, Gray
Glenn, Glen
Otis
Ralph
Nigel
Clyde
Clifford
Harris
Finnian
Robin
Wallace
Dashiell
Montgomery
Monroe

Notice, I didn’t say these were great names, but I think you can use them without too many problems. You may think Finnian is old-fashioned or odd. But if you’re familiar with “Finnian’s Rainbow” (a great Broadway musical) you’ll probably think the name is charming and if you go for cool nicknames, Finn is a winner. I also like these nicknames: Dash for Dashiel, Cliff for Clifford, Harry for Harris, and Monty for Montgomery. BTW, it helps to know that Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery (a Brit) defeated the Germans commanded by “Desert Fox” Erwin Rommel at El Alamein.

But Clyde is cool as is.  It was made cool by Warren Beatty who played bank-robber, Clyde Barrow, in “Bonnie & Clyde” and by Walt (Clyde) Frazier of the New York Knicks who stole baskeballs the way Clyde Barrow stole money. Batman and Robin were a great team and Robin pulled his own weight. And if you’re an aficionado of single-malt scotch whiskey, it’s hard not to like the name Glen as in Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie.

I probably like Grey because of Grey Advertising, Grey Goose and “Grey Gardens.” If you’re looking for a color name, Grey is more nuanced than, say, Red or Blue.  I’d use Grey if my last name started with a “G.” Grey Gordon. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  But, to be honest, I prefer Gordon Grey. I suppose I like Gordon because it goes well with Grey, if that happens to be your last name. Grey Goldberg? Maybe not. I’d suggest Gary Goldberg, but Gary isn’t on Satran’s list.

Can you see how baby-naming is about finding exactly the right name–with the right meaning, the right sound and the right vibe? Take your time; it helps to weigh all your options over a seven or eight month period. Here’s an important take-away: Never look for names in a list created by someone who doesn’t care enough to sort out the most usable names from the least.