Off-Topic as all Hell: Let’s Talk about Names

So, FILLYJONK TOTALLY BROKE THE COMMENTS THREAD on the “Three Things” post yesterday, which would be an only slightly less egregious offense than when she broke feminism, except she did it by bringing up a topic I love talking about: names. All is forgiven.

I’ve been unhealthily fascinated with names since I was a small child — to the point where it’s probably something else I could use for the Eight Weird Things about Me meme. Where other children had one imaginary friend or none, I had an army of them, mostly because I liked giving them all names. And I swear, half the reason I started writing fiction as soon as I could write was that I liked imagining what a girl named Diane or Jasmine or Mildred would be like. As I said in that comments thread, the Baby Name Wizard’s Name Voyager, which allows you to type in a name and see its popularity in the U.S. since the 1880s, is one of my very favorite internet toys. The blog that goes with it is a massive time suck for me, and I have also lost countless hours of my life to Baby’s Named a Bad, Bad Thing, the Utah Baby Namer, and iVillage parenting threads about names.

I am not a parent. I might never be a parent. Even if I do become one, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I will not be having 10 or 12 kids, which is how many I’d need to fully satisfy all my naming urges. So I might as well stick to dogs. But I can’t stop reading these sites and wondering what I’d do.

And the thing is, while some actual parents fail to consider that a name like FluffyBunnyBooBoo (perhaps I exaggerate) might be cute on a 2-year-old but less cute on an adult trying to get a job, I obsess over the tiniest details, without even having a kid to name. I am currently in love with the name Louisa, for instance — but I know that some people would pronounce it Loo-WEEZ-a, while others would say Loo-WEESE-a — even I sorta go between the two, though I tend toward the latter — and that’s the kind of thing that could drive a kid fucking bonkers by the time she’s twelve. I worked with a Scottish girl named Katie one summer. Given that we had the same name, you’d think I’d know a little something about pronouncing it, right? Nuh-uh. I, in all my ignorant Americanness, say something that sounds like “Cady”; she, in all her GENUINE BRITISH GLORY, said, KATE-ee, and insisted that the rest of us pronounce that goddamned T like a T or just not speak to her. (As if Americans have the time to go around enunciating our Ts. I mean, really.) It prevented us from ever truly becoming friends.

So Louisa’s out, for my imaginary daughter.

The more interesting question is, why am I suddenly in love with the name Louisa — and, to a lesser extent, Louise? There were few names I despised more than Louise when I was a kid, even though I had a grandma figure named Louise whom I adored. In fact, it was probably because of that; it was an old lady name. But you know what else was categorically, utterly, seemingly irretrievably an old lady name to my ears when I was a kid? Emily. And Emma. And Sophie. And Abigail and Madeleine and Ruby and Ella and Olivia. Henry and Jack were absolutely old men. Now, I just named half your kid’s first-grade class, didn’t I?

The cycle of old-lady names turning into little-girl names is nothing new, but the lightning-fast, global communication today allows recycled names to catch on and saturate a hell of a lot faster than they ever did before. I love all of the names I just listed, but if I got pregnant (pleasegodno), I wouldn’t use any of them now, because they’re way too common. If one wants to choose a “classic” name now — which is definitely the way I swing — one needs not only to go back 100 years but to find out what’s happening in baby names today. ‘Cause if you thought of it, chances are, a zillion somebody elses did.

A dear friend of mine has an almost 8-year-old daughter named Mikaela. She was named for her father, Michael, and my friend spelled it with a k, thinking the name “Michaela” would be so unfamiliar to most people, they might not know how to pronounce it. Yeah, not so much, as we all know now — but as someone who didn’t have kids, didn’t know many people with kids, and wasn’t a name-obsessed freak like me (nor had she met me yet), how was she supposed to know that Michaela/Mikaela/McKayla was already spreading like wildfire? That one seemingly came out of nowhere — until you think about the fact that Michael is an unflaggingly popular boy’s name, but Michelle was played out by the ’90s. So it makes perfect sense that a shit-ton of people would go looking for a new way to feminize Michael at exactly the same time. But then, only a freak like me would think of that. (From the thread that inspired this post, I get the impression there are other freaks like me around here, and I can’t wait to hear from you.)

A few years ago, I was in love with the name Grace for an imaginary kid. My sister, who worked in a preschool, said, “Scratch that. It’s about to go trashy.” As someone who’s been working with little kids for about fifteen years, my sister has seen first-hand, repeatedly, the class-association trajectory described in Freakonomics: upper-class people start using a name that sounds old-fashioned or stuffy; a few years later, middle-class people start using it because now it sounds upper-class; a few years after that, everybody is using it, and that name gets pegged to A) a particular era and B) the lower classes, so it goes out of fashion. (Think Brittany between the late ’70s and late ’90s.)

“It’s about to go trashy” may not be the most kindhearted thing my sister ever said, but it was dead-on. If you don’t have kids, or work with them, you might not even think of Grace as an especially popular name — I only know one person with a daughter named Grace, so to me, it still sounds fresh. But it was number 17 for U.S. girls in 2006. It’s been in the top 20 for the last few years. Grace is already over, for all intents and purposes.

Shit like that fascinates me.

And betting on which “old lady” names are about to become little girl names again is more fun for me than a day at the races — though it does take a lot longer to get the results. As I just said in the other thread, I think Violet’s ripe to go seriously viral. It’s from the right era, it’s a flower name that sounds fresher than Lily and Rose, which are already damn near played, and it’s got a celebrity baby (Affleck/Garner) going for it now. In 2003, it was number 597; in 2004 it was number 590 — and then by 2006, it had shot up to 261. I think it’s gonna crack the top 100 by 2009, for sure. Which pisses me off, because it was my grandmother’s name, so I thought it would be a good retro name to use for a long time, but by the time I get around to having kids, if I do, it’ll probably be well on its way to trashy.

Then there are the names that will almost certainly never return. Grandma Violet’s middle name was Myrtle. Flower name, right era, and… no fucking way is that making a comeback. But in the 1890s it was ranked 28, and it was in the top 100 until the 1930s. How the hell did Myrtle sound like a good idea to so many people for so long? The name Ida was ranked even higher than Myrtle in the 1890s. So was Gertrude. Bertha was number 12. What the fuck was that all about?

And the most fun ever is trying to figure out which names sound waaaaay too moldy to ever return in any serious way right now, but probably will anyway. Smart money’s on Beatrice, sez me. It only just cracked the top 1000 in the U.S, but the princess kicked it off in the U.K. ages ago (though I’m not holding my breath for Eugenie), and new parents are finally almost too young to immediately picture Aunt Bee when they hear the name — which is actually really pretty, divorced from such associations. Next, I would bet on Edith, Mathilda, Mabel, and Harriet. Edith, if you force yourself not to think “Bunker,” is a pretty cool combination of feminine and tough, plus a good fill for the hole left by Judith’s more recent spike and downfall — and old-fashioned E names have been coming back like mad since Emily kicked things off. Also, Edie is cute, and fits right in with the more popular Evie and Maddie. Speaking of which, Mat(h)ilda has the Ledger/Williams baby going for it now, plus the nickname Mattie — which, to Americans, is basically identical to Maddie (see Katie controversy above) — just when people are finally getting sick of Madeleine and Madison. Mabel and Harriet are shots in the dark, but they’ve both appeared in fresh contexts on TV in the last ten years (Mad About You, Studio 60), and they’re both names that start to sound cool to me when I say them over and over, which is the only real test for this. Ooh, and a friend of mine had a Winifred last year — that’s nowhere near the top 1000 right now, but seriously, if one person thought of it, you can bet a lot of others have or are going to. Finally, as I said on the other thread, I have a gut feeling that even Agatha has an outside chance of at least getting into the top 1000 again — though not Agnes.

Let’s meet back here in 2030 and see if I’m right about all that, okay?

So now, the big question: if I were having a baby right now, what would I call her? (If you haven’t already picked up on this, I don’t give a rat’s ass about boy names. Also, I tend to assume all babies are girls until they’re born, so I can’t even imagine having a boy.) I would want something old-fashioned but not too musty, likely to gain in popularity enough not to sound downright weird in the kindergarten classroom of tomorrow, but also unlikely to crack the top 100 names any time soon. Think… well, Louisa. Alice would be far and away my favorite, except that if I got knocked up any time soon, the father would be Al; if he were out of the picture, I’d definitely go for Alice, but since I don’t even know if I want kids yet, I’m not going looking for a dad with a more convenient name. Yet. I also recently decided Vivian and Rosalind were my two favorite names, then read an article in Slate by a guy planning to name his twin daughters Vivian and Rosalind; since at least one other person had the same thought at the same time, I’m betting both of those names are coming back, though I don’t see them getting super-popular. They’re still in the running. Ditto Amelia — though I’m pretty sure that’s about to explode into Madison-esque ubiquity — and Cecelia, though I don’t much care for “Cece” (as in C.C.) as a nickname.

Oh, and speaking of that, I cannot WAIT for the trend of refusing to let tiny children go by nicknames to die. I love nicknames. I am totally that asshole who will saddle a person who doesn’t have or want a nickname with one of my own choosing, because nicknames? ARE AWESOME. You will note that my imaginary daughters up there would actually be known as Lou/Lulu, Al/Allie, Viv, Roz, Millie (which reminds me, I’m also warming to Millicent, though I think that still belongs in the “too musty” category at the moment), and probably “Ceece,” which I find preferable to “Cece.” (Though if I were to use the name Cecelia, I would acknowledge that “Cece” is inevitable and get over it. It’s one thing to, say, correct people who call me Kathy instead of Kate. It’s another thing to stubbornly refuse to admit that you opened the goddamned door to a completely obvious nickname, even if you don’t like it. And yes, numerous mothers of Michaels who cringe when they’re called “Mike,” I am looking right at you.)

Over to you now, readers. What are your favorite names? What names can’t you stand? What names were you shocked to discover are currently popular? What names do you think will tip from musty to cool in the next ten years? The next twenty? Where do you weigh in on nicknames?

If this thread doesn’t have 150 impassioned comments by this time tomorrow, I’m going to be very disappointed in you all.

217 thoughts on “Off-Topic as all Hell: Let’s Talk about Names

  1. I’m one of the first waves of Caitlins outside of Ireland (Caitlin is Irish for Catherine, which is my mother’s name). I was born in 1982, and I knew maybe two other Caitlins growing up. I had a hard time imagining being a grown-up with the name, but, being a grown-up now, I think it fits quite nicely. I’ve always liked my name, but cannot abide by intentional misspellings like “Kaitlin”, “Katelyn”, and the ilk.

    I don’t have names for my imaginary children, but I do have list of names I would never, ever, even under extreme duress, consider because they are ugly or trashy or played out (imo, of course). Here we go:

    Michaela, Mikayla, et al (apologies to your friend’s daughter, but ick)

    Tiffany

    Mackenzie

    Alexis or Alexa (and the nicknames Lexis and Lexa)

    Brooklyn

    Amari (sounds like a liquor)

    Dakota

    Madison

    I could go on, but for the interest of space, I’ll stop.

  2. Me me me! Love the graph – wish that had been around when I was naming my kids, instead of just lists of the 100 most popular. I have a name that NO ONE else had when I was growing up (Carlie). The first time I met another one was in college. I’ve since had to whip my head around a few times in the store as people have been calling after toddlers (ok, people with names like Kate can probably tune that out, but I’m not used to it!) and the graph confirms it. My name isn’t even on the graph until the 1970s – ok, Carly Simon and all, wev. But then it takes a ginormous spike in the 1990s and climbs more than exponentially from there – what on earth is that about? What famous Carlie have I never heard of that everyone is naming their kids after? I’m sure it’s not me. :)

    I like names that are a bit unique but NOT hard to spell – it gets really old after 15 or 20 years of having to spell it out for everyone. Violet is a great name, and is probably growing because of The Incredibles as well. I always wanted Emily as a daughter’s name when I was a teenager, but now it’s too overdone for me. My great-grandmother was Daisy, but I think the Dukes of Hazard still have that name in the rubble.
    Rose is coming back, and I think that’s pretty.

    When I was pregnant with my oldest son, it was right when a new evolutionary idea on flowering plants came out and it was suggested to me that I name my child Amborella after the new most primitive plant in the group. Didn’t like that one, though. :)

  3. Oh, a few more:

    Chelsea

    Rebecca (I just don’t like the sound or the associated nicknames like Becca or Becky)

    Savannah

  4. I confess, if I had it to do over again, I would stick with the “correct” spelling of Mikaela–even I want to spell it traditionally on occassion. When we went back to the baby names well, we certainly weren’t going to my side for girl’s names: my mom is Charlotte, and I have a grandmother named Wanda and one named Bertha. Alll names that I don’t see coming back anytime soon. But most of all, I liked naming both girls after people and giving them names that could have boy nick names–so they get to have a say somewhere along the way in choosing a name that fits their personality. But as much as we thought about names, and nicknames, we never could have anticipated that Rachael would take a cue from her sisters affectionate name for her and actually introduce herself to people as “Rachie Boo Boo.” Plan all you want, they will still surprise you. And just for a bit of boy names fun: my step dad was named Wilbur–it’s no surprise that he was nicknamed “Sonny”…’cuz anything beats Wilbur!

  5. Josephine’s making a comeback (although it was always in the top 500).

    I’ve an irrational dislike of girls’ names that end with a superfluous ‘a’: I much prefer Cecily to Cecilia, Louise to Louisa, and Helen to Helena. I think it’s mostly my inverted snobbery showing, because I make exceptions for Nicola and Fiona, which are less posh than Nicole and Ffion.

    Also, I’m with you in the nicknames – short, uncomplicated nicknames do seem to go with straightforward honest people. I’ve never met a Jo, Kate or Jill I didn’t like.

  6. My theory is that television has a lot to do with popularizing names. Michaela = Dr (Michaela) Quinn, Medecin Woman. Winifred = Fred, from Angel (the Buffy spinoff). Or perhaps it’s the other way around, who knows?

    One name I saw pop up all over TV in the last couple of years is Hailey/Haley. I liked it the first time I heard it, and now I’m sick of it.

    As for nicknames, I tend to respect people’s wishes on that matter. Giving nicknames and insisting on them can be a form of bullying (think of men giving cutesy nicknames to women, or Bush having nicknames for everyone) so I’d rather err on the side of caution.

  7. my mom is Charlotte, and I have a grandmother named Wanda and one named Bertha. Alll names that I don’t see coming back anytime soon

    Suzi, I’m with you on Wanda and Bertha, but my niece is named Charlotte, and it’s actually coming back like gangbusters! I thought my brother and his wife were batshit when they first said that’s what they were going with (14 years ago), but now, of course, I love it.

    “Rachie Boo Boo” is hilarious.

    Giving nicknames and insisting on them can be a form of bullying (think of men giving cutesy nicknames to women, or Bush having nicknames for everyone) so I’d rather err on the side of caution.

    I hear you, Artemis, and I wouldn’t actually push it on anyone I didn’t think would forgive me for being annoying — i.e., people I’m already friends with. :) Oh, and the Winifred I mentioned definitely didn’t come from Angel — it was a family name — but I’ll confess that after years of Buffy-watching, I grew to like the name Cordelia.

  8. I’ve definitely noticed there are a lot more little Ellies around in the UK than there used to be. Not that you hear of many Eleanors in full, but then I rarely used it in full as a kid. I always find it odd how it goes in and out of fashion among my friends. Until lately they nearly always used Eleanor (or LNR :) but now I’m more often Ellie to them too.

    My mum definitely picked names that were quite old-fashioned at the time (75-80), so me and my sisters are Eleanor Catherine, Stephanie Charlotte and Emily Frances. Oddly Steph ended up in the same class at school as another Stephanie and a Stefanie, so that must have been popular at the time. Claire/Clare was the common one in my year, and apparently one my mum might have picked if not for how badly it would go with our surname. A decision I am very grateful for given the later invention of Care Bears.

    I’ve always liked having a name that’s a little bit different, but I agree with car about the annoyance of spelling. Its easier as a grown-up, but small kids *cannot* spell Eleanor. Mind you my own grandad still gets it wrong.

    That graph thing is fun! I’d love to see what shape the UK equivalent would be. And it would be nice to see how much the US graph starts to influence the UK one and when.

  9. Oh, and Caitlin, my mom apparently considered naming me that as well, but decided against it, which I’m grateful for in retrospect, since it got so popular. (Though I thought Caitlin was a much cooler name when I was younger — precisely because it was unusual.) And I am TOTALLY with you on hating Katelyn/Kaitlyn/etc. (Apologies to anyone who has a kid with one of those spellings. I know SOMEONE will, now that I’ve said that.) Technically, though, I can’t really get on my high horse, since Kathleen is the anglicized spelling of Caitlin — which, technically, should be pronounced to sound a lot more like Kathleen. So really, we’re both wrong. :)

    And Carlie, I never saw The Incredibles, but I’m sure you’re right. That’s the other problem with trying to name a kid when you’re not already immersed in the world of kids. I am just kid-savvy enough to understand that Dora’s completely out as an option, for instance, but I’m sure there are other names I like that are already associated with cartoon characters I’ve never heard of — but will hear of over and over and over if I do have kids.

  10. I think you’re kind of taking a risk if you name your kid something too strange. As I mentioned before, my mother loathes her name, she’s said it actually makes her ill to be called by it. I once knew a girl named Sunshine who was the biggest bitch, I’d ever met , and my first roommate was a complete witch named Misty Magic.

    I have one of the most common names of the last 20 years, Jessica. When I went to college, there were seven Jessicas on my dorm floor alone (and there were only like 20-30 girls) and just as many Danielles. My mother insists that she didn’t know Jessica was so popular when she named me, just that she didn’t want to saddle me with something weird like her name, which I won’t share here for fear of her somehow knowing and seeking revenge. I’m never having kids, so I guess I don’t really have to worry about saddling them with a name that’s too weird, or too plain. For my animals, I like to name them something unique, usually a name from mythology (my Boston Terrier’s name is Loki) or a foreign language; I’m really into Japanese names and words right now. Next dog I get, I’m going to name her Tsukiko, which means child of the moon. I also like Kuro, Kuma, and Minako, which was the name of my lovely lady dog *RIP*

    Names that I dislike are basically all the popular ones. Every time I go grocery shopping, and this is not an exaggeration, I’ll hear about four different mothers screeching at their kids, “Mckenna, no, leave Madison alone!” “Riley, put that back! ” “Michaela, Caden, Tyler, Connor, Mackenzie” Grah! Drives me nuts ><

  11. I’ve been using the Baby Name Wizard to look at first-letter popularity, which is fascinating. There was a whole chunk in there, like from the 40s to the 60s at least, when vowels were SO OUT.

    I wouldn’t completely write off Agnes, what with the meteoric rise of Agyness Deyn. I don’t give a shit about models and I know her name, so there you go. Also, the French pronunciation is lovely.

    Rose actually hasn’t come up all that much, so that’ll certainly go, and then I wonder if the jewel names like Pearl and Opal are next in line? Especially if we’re seeing Rubies.

    I have to admit that I’ve got my eye on an old-fashioned flower name: Poppy. It’s never been in the top 1000, but everyone can spell and pronounce it. And more importantly, it’s what I called my grandfather, which would get me off the hook for having to name a kid after his actual name (the related or similar girls’ names I like are hopelessly trendy, and the boys’ names extremely outdated or goyische.)

  12. AND ANOTHER THING! ‘Cause who needs input from other people when I can write 150 comments on my own post?

    Miss Prism, I almost missed you there. But 3 things:

    A) Mikaela’s little sister (Rachie Boo Boo, from the comment above yours) is Rachael Josephine. I LOVE Josephine, and I know her mom does, too. Actually, come to think of it, the little Grace I know of (my ex’s kid) is Grace Josephine.

    B) You are, I take it, British. Nicola would be a MILLION times posher than Nicole over here (because Nicoles are a dime a dozen — and probably born in the ’70s — but Nicola has only shown up recently), and Ffion is basically non-existent — but Fiona still reads posh. I actually just heard the name Ffion for the first time in some British movie or TV show Al and I watched recently — it took me quite a while to realize her name wasn’t Fiona, and that Ffion must, in fact, be a name. (I never would have guessed the double F. Awesome.)

    C) Two of my good friends are named Jo and Jill. I’m right with you there.

  13. Also, the French pronunciation is lovely.

    Fillyjonk, if you haven’t read Lorrie Moore’s short story “Agnes of Iowa,” in which the main character starts trying to get people to call her “Onyez,” you should.

    Also, I think you’re totally right about gem names coming on the heels of flower names — I actually almost said something about that. And Poppy is pretty awesome, especially with the grandpa connection. I suspect you might find that in the top 1000 in Britain or Australia already — does anyone know?

    I’d also like to point out that my grandpa’s name was Darwin (ROCK), which I’d be half-tempted to use for a girl.

  14. FJ, have you read the Lorrie Moore story “Agnes of Iowa”? If not, do it immediately, because it’s excellent, but also because your comment made me want to spoil the funniest line in it. And I hate spoiling things, even if they’re decades-old short stories.

    Also, Kate, this chart thinger is seriously blowing my mind. I have an older brother named Mark, which it turns out took a MAJOR spike in the 70s and has almost dropped off the map since then. I had no idea my parents were part of such a trend! I’m also pleased to note that Laura, while of course very common until the 2000s, was a hot ticket in the 1880s. That tickles me.

  15. Oh, also, I no longer fantasize about names at all, but I have always liked my grandma’s name, Cora. Apparently it has been making a very minor comeback in the last few years.

  16. First off, i’m with you on the names thing, but i’m more about obscure names than i am about merely old-fashioned. But i am tickled with a few things you’ve mentioned (here and in the past) and this gives me a perfect excuse to bring them up without sounding weird(er).

    My grandpa’s name was Sol. Not Solomon. Just Sol. But all his friends called him Solly. It’s one of my absolutely favoritest names EVAR, so i was like OMG HER DOG’S NAME IS SOLLY THAT IS MADE OF WIN. True story.

    My grandma’s name was Alice Rita, which is so sweetly simple and i don’t think it’s old-fashioned at all. I used to think that she and her best friend (they met in 2nd grade and were friends ’til the end) shared a name – her friend’s name was Rita.

    Names are such strong things, and say so much. Whenever i’m finding myself needing to name something, it takes me forEVER to figure out a name – it has to be Just Right.

    With our newest doggy, she was just “puppy” for a few days, because we had no idea what to call her. Then one night, i had a dream about a woman with a name – people in my dreams don’t HAVE names, but this one was named Maya. So i mentioned that to Ben, he said he’d been thinking of that as a name. We tested it out, and she responded positively on the first time.

    When i was young, my imaginary friends and my gerbils/goldfish/whatever had names like Simon, Mabel, Troy, etc. My mother never quite understood where the heck i’d even heard these names, as they were certainly not common back then.

    Names are awesome. And of course, i’m now drawing a blank with regards to names i’d like to see make a comeback. Besides: i’d wanted Lindsay to make a comeback for years, and just look what happened to it! Yeesh.

  17. Actually I’m pretty sure I have read it, but if it’s not in “Who Will Run the Frog Hospital” then I don’t own it, and it’ll have to wait for my library trip. Which omg, should happen like RIGHT NOW.

    I do go back and forth on Poppy, partly because it’s so easy for kids to turn it into “poopy.” But then, kids will make a joke out of any name. Although to be honest I can’t think of one for “Kate.”

    Jo is great too. I’m named after my great grandfather Joseph and I would have really loved to be Jo… but at least I narrowly missed being called Jasmine.

    The one I’m really annoyed about is Kayla, which got popular about six years ago. My great-uncle’s fiance, who died in the Holocaust, was named Kayla, and I was totally going to treat that as satisfying the “named after deceased relative” rule. But it has completely gone trashy. I just saw reference in a magazine to a little girl named “Kaighla.” I think once you start seeing absurd can’t-spell-their-own-name orthographic perversions, it’s over.

  18. Lindsay’s grandma reminded me of another good name-related question to ask: What’s the name you give strangers with no reason to know when they ask you what your name is? Mine is Alice.

  19. Oh yeah, I also meant to say that I think Darwin is a freaking fantastic name. For a girl or anyone. Now mind you, I think it’s cool that Shannon Sossamon named her kid “Audio Science.” But still.

  20. Oops, sorry I spoiled it! Sorta. It’s in “Birds of America,” which I will happily loan you if I remember to pack it when I go to see you soon, Fillyjonk. By which I mean, don’t hold your breath.

    I do go back and forth on Poppy, partly because it’s so easy for kids to turn it into “poopy.” But then, kids will make a joke out of any name. Although to be honest I can’t think of one for “Kate.”

    Yeah, well, who needs a joke for Kate when you’ve got a last-name that transitions so nicely from “Farting” to “Hard-on”? Yes, kids will always find something.

    Lindsay, I’m totally with you on taking forever to name things, which is why I’ve been working on my imaginary kids for decades — and also why I kept the names the shelter gave my dogs (because I happened to like them just fine).

    Laura, I had no idea Mark spiked in the ’70s! I mean, that makes sense, given all the Marks I knew growing up, but I think of it as pure classic — definitely not like Jason, which may have started out equally biblical but is 100% ’70s to me now.

  21. I have a friend who calls herself “Consuela” in those situations, and people always buy it.

    I just remembered this. I know a girl whose parents took too long to name her after she was born, so her name (Rachel) was never put on her birth certificate. So her legal name is Baby Girl. Her driver’s license says Baby. Bad parents! My parents took 11 days to name me after I was born. I’m glad they got around to it. I also knew a girl named Aquanetta. Like the hair spray.

  22. I’m leery of shelters and their naming policies; Durden was originally named Cassius, and A Cassius He Was Not. That, and i know a girl who works with a dog rescue foundation, and they have name themes each month. The last month i asked her what the theme was, it was “fancy drinks”… so any dogs they found that month were named Margarita or Pina Colada or something along those lines.

    And yes, kids will find ANYthing they can to make fun of a name. My maiden name is nothing special (Mason), so there wasn’t much they could do except call me “Lindsay Pinzie”, which… i’m not sure why it was supposed to hurt or upset me.

  23. i know a girl who works with a dog rescue foundation, and they have name themes each month.

    Yeah, my friend Laurie, who just had to name orphan kittens for a rescue group, had to come up with a theme. She finally went with Muppet Babies.

    Interestingly, the only kitten yet to be adopted — who is also her favorite — is named Pepe. I think that’s the coolest name of the bunch, and probably the only one I wouldn’t change, but it’s pretty obscure in the context of Muppet Babies. (Laurie swears there was a Pepe. I have no recollection of one.) I wonder if the themed names actually helped move the others?

  24. I looove name trends, especially because I was very nearly a victim of one–my mum wanted to call me ‘Jessie’ from the get-go. Fortunately she had enough sense not to name me Jessica, which was ranked #1 in the decade I was born, so instead I was named… Jessamyn. Which brings on hilarious pronunciations like you wouldn’t believe*, but I’d like to think that after Josephine (which seems like it’s making a comeback) goes out, Jessamyn will be an awesome alternative. I like it, in any case.

    Also, if you haven’t seen this before, name voyager is an awesome little thing to fiddle with.

    *the actual pronunciation, which can best be described as ‘rhymes with specimen,’ is pretty hilarious on it’s own, I must admit.

  25. 1) I was born in 1982 and my parents decided to name me Karin Daniela because
    a) it’s a name that can be (more or less) easily spelled and pronounced by German and English relatives (mom is German/dad is American) and
    b) can’t be chopped up into a nickname (I hate them for that, because I’d love to have a nickname!).

    I rarely meet Karins my age – the ones I meet are about 20 – 30 years older than I am, which was an advantage in school (no one in my class had my name). :-) But I don’t really see the name Karin coming back anytime soon. :-)

    2) I really HATE Jennifer/Jenny (I always associate bitches/brats w/ that name – sorry to any Jennys out there!) and names that are cutesy-pie like Candy, Brandy, Mitzy etc.
    I’ve also come to despise French names. Here in Germany, it’s become a trend for “white trash” couples to give their children French names like Jacqueline, Chantal and Fabienne. I suppose the names are supposed to sound posh (kind of like Fiona, which was mentioned above) and give a worldly air.

    Anyway, these names have become a running gag in the media and for comedians, because they are a synonym for uneducated, trashy and loud brats. The names, which are actually beautiful, sound stupid when pronounced in certain German dialects and/or are paired with traditional German surnames.

    3)
    Currently, I really like the names Quinn (even though I know that my daughter would constantly have to explain “no, it’s not necessarily a boy’s name”), Charlotte, Jocelyn and Bridget (the English version of Birgit, my mom’s name).
    I am also obsessed with names from Greek mythology, so Artemis, Athena, Demeter or Persephone rank high on my list (although I’d probably use them as middle names).

    4) I agree with Artemis – I also think that TV shows/movies/the media have great influence in pushing a name. That’s why I think that Charlotte is coming back – because of Sex and the City. And when I read Mikaela/Winifred, I also automatically thought of Dr.Quinn/Angel.

  26. I have always been obsessed with names, too. I loved dolls when I was little, but only so I could name them.

    I have a bit of an odd name: Marinn. (Pronounced “Muhrinn” rather than “Mare-inn”) My older brother is named Soda. For some reason I guess the weird names got played out and my parents named my little brother Joseph.

    My best friend named her now 2-year-old son Indiana Freeman. Her next will be either Stryder or Dexter for a boy or Tallulah for a girl. My two 6-year-old nieces are Reanna Marie and Lenore Morgan, and my 2-year-old nephew is Hayden Cash.

    Middle names fascinate me, too!

    My grandparents were Homer and Lonnie Mae, and Adeline and Edwin. Adeline had a twin brother named Edward, so they were Addie & Eddie. I think Adeline is a nice old lady name. My parents are Richard and Barbara, two very popular boomer names.

    I was almost named Eartha Marie instead of Marinn Ellen. This was in 1978. Eartha and I’m a fat chick. Dodged that bullet, eh?

    Fun stuff!

  27. Fillyjonk, I find it interesting that you like the name Audio Science – I always asked myself if there’s someone out there that likes it.
    I actually hate it. Same goes for Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee’s son), Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter), Moon Unit (Frank Zappa’s daughter) etc.

    It always seems that the stars are trying to hard to be creative and show that they’re oh-so-individual, but at the expense of their kids. Names like Audio Science or Apple are a sure fire guarantee for bullying.

  28. My mom considered named me Siobhan, but my dad, bless him, vetoed that one. He actually named me- Caitlin Alexandra. I Googled “Caitlin Alexandra” once, and I’m not the only one, but I know no one else has my last name.

  29. I was almost named Eartha Marie instead of Marinn Ellen. This was in 1978. Eartha and I’m a fat chick. Dodged that bullet, eh?

    LOL!

    And I do not approve of Audio Science.

  30. Here’s a top 20 of unusual celeb names, courtesy of http://www.innocentenglish.com/celebrity-bloopers-news-quotes/unusual-baby-names.html

    “1. Audio Science. Parent: Shannyn Sossamon

    2. Blue Angel. Parent: The Edge (from U2)

    3. God’iss Love Stone. Parent: Lil’ Mo

    4. Heavenly Hiraana Tiger Lily. Parent: Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates.

    5. Jermajesty. Parent: Jermaine Jackson

    6. Kal-el. Parent: Nicholas Cage.
    (Kat-el is Superman’s birthname).

    7. Memphis Eve. Parent: Bono (U2)

    8. Messiah Ya’majesty. Parent: T.I. (Atlanta Rapper)

    9. Moxie Crimefighter. Parent: Penn Gillette

    10. O’shea. Parent: Ice Cube

    11. O’shun. Parent: Tamika Scott (Xscape)

    O’shitt. (Sooner or later, some celeb will use this for an unplanned kid).

    12. Peaches Honeyblossom. Parent: Bob Geldoff

    13. Pilot Inspektor. Parent: Jason Lee
    (Gee, how can I really mess up my child without doing anything illegal? GOT IT!)

    14. Poppy Honey. Parent: Jamie Oliver.

    15. Reign Beau. Parent: Ving Rhames.
    (I would make a joke here but Ving Rhames is a big dude. Great names, sir).

    16. Seven Sirius. Parents: Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Erykah Badu

    17. Sy’rai. Parent: Brandy

    18. Starlite Melody. Parent: Marisa Berenson

    19. Spec Wildhorse (son) Parent: John Cougar Mellencamp

    20. Tu. Parent: Rob Morrow
    (”It sure is cloudy today Daddy.” “Don’t worry. The sun will come out, Tu Morrow”).”

  31. Name stuff is fascinating!

    I’m Marianne, and the biggest struggle I ever had from my name was people who don’t spell it properly. I get anything from Marian, Mary Anne, Maryann, Mariane, etc. Once our family started tracking our genealogy, it turned out that a great-great-grandmother and great-great-great-grandmother had been Mariannes, too, generations earlier.

    I’m also fascinated by families that name all their kids using the same first letter, like the Duggars with all their J names. How did Jinger come up before Jennifer, among other things?

  32. Oh, god, I forgot about Tu Morrow. That is so fucking wrong.

    Karin, interesting to get the German perspective! Also interesting because the name Karen seemed to have a similarly timed rise and fall in the States. I know a couple Karens my age (hi, KB!), but the name definitely peaked in the 50s/60s, and I suspect it’ll be a while before it sounds fresh again. (But I also suspect it’ll be one of the first to be picked up for revival by our grandkids.)

    And verrrry interesting about the French names. Chantal has also been trashified by Anglo-Canadians, but not so much the others.

    As for TV, since I never watched Dr. Quinn and rarely watched Angel, I wouldn’t make those associations, but I’m sure they’re part of it. (The Winifred I know is a Winnie, not a Fred, btw. Though perhaps Winnie Cooper planted the seed there back in the day.) Naturally, I like to think I’m far too clever and sophisticated to be affected by TV, but I’m fairly certain Rosalind would never have made my imaginary list if I didn’t love Roz on Frasier… who named her daughter Alice, come to think of it.

    On the other hand, I used to love the name Lorelei but wouldn’t use it any time soon because of Lorelai Gilmore (who didn’t even spell it right). That name was so unusual here before that show, everyone would assume I got the name from there, and that would piss me off for the rest of my life.

  33. My name is Rebecca – named for no one. My parents just liked it. My middle name is Elizabeth after my paternal grandmother. My mum is always Elizabeth but always ALWAYS Liz. I am variously known as: Becky, Becka, B, Bee, Rebs, Becks, Bex and Rebsberry. I will answer to any of these, as long as you’re from the right ‘sphere’ when you call me it.

    My husband has a very Northern working class name, and I never thought I would marry someone with that name. Our kids, if we ever have any, will be Abigail (but shortened to Abbie) or James (not shortened).

    I agree with MissPrism that Nicola and Fiona are far less posh than Nicole and Ffion, and I’m British :)

  34. At least Audio Science could be “nicknamed” down to Audie, you know what I mean? Unless there’s an insistence that he be called Audio Science full-stop. Then…it might be rough. There might be some scrappin’ on the playground.

    I have three siblings, two sisters and a brother, and all our names begin with “J”, which is wrong and annoying and I’m still a little bitter about it 35 years after my birth. I’m also still slightly grudgey that they didn’t wind up naming me Josephine (after a great-grandmother of mine). It would have been so cool to be Jo or Josie instead of…ugh…Jane.

  35. 13. Pilot Inspektor. Parent: Jason Lee
    (Gee, how can I really mess up my child without doing anything illegal? GOT IT!)

    Oh, that’s just the cherry on top of the Scientology.

  36. It would have been so cool to be Jo or Josie instead of…ugh…Jane.

    I love the name Jane!

    Oh, and Marianne, I suspect you’ll get some commiseration from The Rotund once she gets around to reading this.

    And oh my god, The Duggars. The J names are the least of my worries.

  37. Okay, so, I told my sister (whose name is Maggie, which I think is a nifty old name, along with Hazel and/or Lucy, but evidently it’s gone in and out of fashion already) that I met a girl whose name was Hennessey, and that I thought it was sort of neat. She snorted and said, “You can’t name your daughter after a DRINK.”

    She named her daughter Bailey Grace two years later.

    Names I can’t use: Victoria/Vicki/etc, because almost all the Vickis I’ve known to any great degree have been nasty mean things. I also knew a Tyler who was the worst bully evah. YMMV. All the really really popular names generally turn me off, too. But I like Claire, Isabelle, Rue, Portia, and Megan (in all its incarnations); for boys it’s Ian, Lance, Max, and Griffin.

    Kate, I had a hamster named Pepe. She was the best hammie in the world; bit me once to let me know who was boss and we were pals from then on out.

  38. Oh, and Fillyjonk, Jamie Oliver’s Poppy was the one I was thinking of (not that you knew I was thinking of one) besides Poppy Montgomery. I knew there were two on my radar.

  39. If you look at the chart, you’ll see that Deborah hit a precipitous peak in the 1960s, and that was it on that. Throughout school, I was never the only Deb/bie/orah/ra/by in any class. Ever. Sometimes there were three. “Debbie” was the frickin Katelynn of 1964.

    So I was super careful about that when I was pregnant. It was pre-Internet so I read books and followed birth announcements in the newspaper. I also can’t stand the notwithoutmyhandbag kind of names.

    My son is named Arthur. Uncommon then and now. Old mannish but not ubiquitous like Ethan or Alexander. Nick-able if he wants (Art, Arth, and Thur have been used). If you hear it you can spell it. If you see it you can pronounce. It never makes you go “What kind of name is that?” It has no Zappa-ish connotations whatsoever. Yet there are no other Arthurs in school. It is replete with Pagan folklore and is not Biblical. I happen to think it’s a perfect name.

    We struggled over girl’s names and hadn’t decided at the point when it became moot. (We were committed to the initial A.) Our thoughts about a second child were Julia or Gerald, but Arthur remained an only.

  40. Ooh, Phledge. I love Portia and Lance. Very unusual yet accessible.

    I loved Kerr as a boy’s name, but people looked at me like I’d suggested foot binding or something.

  41. I very much approve of Arthur, for all the reasons you list, Deborah! That’s one that just made it onto my list of names to reconsider, after years of finding it too old-fogey to think about. Though the boys’ list, as I’ve indicated, is much shorter than the girls’. I’m also trying to decide if I like Walter and Stanley yet, or if they need a few more years to percolate, along with Millicent.

    I actually LOVE Al’s real name (which you will not guess, because “Al” is not actually a part of it, much to his frustration), and would happily use it at least as a middle name for a boy or a girl. (I’m not all that into giving kids first names that are after their parents, but Al’s a III, so I wouldn’t be averse to some version of carrying on the tradition.) Unfortunately, he cannot stand his real name, so that’s not happening. I’m not allowed to tell you what it is, but let’s just say that in a room with an Arthur, a Walter, and a Stanley, this kid would not stand out.

    Okay, now I’m talking like we’re actually having a baby someday soon, which WE ARE NOT. I might have to buy a bunch of dolls and name them all these things, though.

  42. Deborah, when I hear “Kerr” I automatically have to think of the (IMO HOT) actor Kerr Smith, who played a gay guy on Dawson’s Creek. *drool*

  43. Just read and then watched To Kill a Mockingbird, so I am all over Atticus and Scout, but they’ve been done by celebrities.

    In my childhood (60s-70s), my classmates were , Lisa, Karen, Debbie, Cathy, Linda, Jenny, Leslie, Becky, Greg, Peter, David, Eric, Tony. As a Julie, I was relatively unusual.

    And let’s talk about middle names. In my yoot, it seemed like there were only two options for girls’ middle names: Ann or Marie.

    Old names I can see coming back:
    Frances
    Ruth
    Scarlett (I have a baby niece by that name)
    April
    May (or Mae)
    June

    Speaking of April, I’m surprised the French form, Avril, hasn’t taken off, but maybe Avril Lavigne’s fans aren’t breeding yet. Avril was popular in Canada in the ’70s.

    Irish names for boys seem to be waning — Liam, Aidan, Conor… but I’m now seeing Declan here and there. I once heard a newscaster mispronounce it as duhCLAN instead of DECKlun. And Kieran.

    Hmm, guess I have a littleobsession, too.

  44. Ada looks like it’s on the up too!
    My friends went for Ava instead, which I thought was unusual when I heard it – but it’s ranked 5 this year.

    If I were to have kids – aargh! no, that gives me a panic attack – if I were to name somebody else’s kids, I like Josephine or Irene for a girl, but I can’t think of any boys’ names at all. I’d agree with Deborah about Arthur, but it’s my ex’s name.

    (Yes, I’m British – Scottish, in fact, so there were several Fionas in my not-at-all-posh mining village primary school. Ffion was made famous over here a few years ago by the irritating wife of a dislikeable politician and is tainted for me by that association, although it may not be all that posh in Wales.)

  45. Kerr Smith was my first thought about Kerr, too, Deborah. :) I bet you’d get a different response if you floated that name today.

    My sister’s son Will was called Liam (as in, the other end of William, which is our dad’s name) for the first 8 days of his life or so. This was in 1996. His father’s from Ireland. It made sense. But every time she told someone his name, they went, “Huh? Lee? Leon? How do you spell that? You don’t think he’ll get beaten up?” So she started calling him Will, which has actually turned out to fit him better.

    But 2 or 3 years after he was born, of course, Liams were EVERYWHERE, and none of those considerations would have come up. It’s amazing how much things can change in a few years.

  46. Ah, J, I was just writing about you as you were posting!

    And yeah, maybe it’s hereditary.

    Also, Duh-CLAN? Seriously? That reminds me of when Devin got super popular in the early ’90s, and a bunch of people started spelling it Devon, which around these parts is Duh-VON. Drove me nuts.

    Oh! and re: middle names, it’s Rose and Grace now. It was Ann, Marie, or Lynn by the time I came along.

  47. Kate, I have a niece who is a Katelynne, which think is a rather irritating piece of made-up spelling – also, it takes up too much room on Christmas cards. She’s going to spend her whole life spelling her name to people.

    I’m a Celia, and looking at the chart it seems my parents named me in its point of lowest popularity, which would be why I’ve only ever met fellow-Celia’s who are older than me (and even then very rarely). People always mistake it for Cecelia when I’m introducing myself, so I always assumed that there were more Cecelia’s around, but not according to the chart. Hmm. Must be some other reason. I’m endlessly spelling my name to people too, but at least it’s only 5 letters.

    Heh, and I see my parents also named my brother Max when that was very unpopular as well. They obviously had a knack for it. At least we were the only ones with our names at school.

  48. Cee, I love Celia, too! (Also Cecily, from way back when on this thread.) I only lean toward Cecelia because it was my great-grandma’s name.

    And Cee, minus the second Cee, is a most excellent nickname for it.

  49. I adore name origins and meanings. It fascinates me, I want to name my future children with romantic, great sounding unusual names that have good meanings. Dont ask for much, do i!

    I find hebrew or greek names often sound unusual enough. Biblical names are awesome, because of all the meanings behind them and how they were used. Theres some pretty grim ones in there too.

    The one name i regrettably love but can never use is Jezebel. The original hebrew meaning was pure and virginal, but the biblical meaning is a queen of Israel condemed by God. Jezebel is even in the dictionary, as a noun meaning “a shameless impudent scheming woman.”

    how could i ever put that upon my future daughter?!

    I also love calantha, which is greek for blossom. yay flowers!

  50. Poppy = number 30 in last year’s Brit chart, apparently – and interestingly most of the top 10 (Olivia, Grace, Jessica, Ruby, Emily, Sophie, Chloe, Lucy, Lily, Ellie) (actually wait a minute – really, people put “Ellie” on the birth certificate??) could fit with the whole Victorian-servant-girl theme… ‘cept maybe Olivia and Jessica (yuk – never met a nice Jessica! But it’s a pretty unusual name in the UK). Ooh, and Erin seems to have broken into the top 100 in the past two years, so I guess there will be some of those around soon after all. Full details here for those that care!

    I will not be breeding, now or in the future, but I had a great-grandfather called Hansard and I always thought that was a cool name, plus it would fit with the husband’s predilection for first names that sound like surnames.

  51. actually wait a minute – really, people put “Ellie” on the birth certificate??

    No kidding! I thought just Kate was bad!

    And thanks for the link! I’m all over it.

    Update, after getting all over it: Gracie, Rosie, Abbie, Libby, and Katie are all on that list, too. I guess giving your kid a cutesy nickname on the official docs is one way to get around people forcing a nickname on them later?

    Finally, I’ve definitely met nice Jessicas. :) But we’ve got a lot more to choose from here.

  52. Yeah, my friend called her kids Rosie and Suzy for that reason I think. She actually liked Kate, but she knew her mother-in-law would call her Katie (probably even Katey-watey) and she just wasn’t up for that.

    Okay, since I feel partially responsible for the previous thread-jack, I thought you might be interested in this… today’s (London) Times had a special “shape issue” of its Saturday magazine that was patronising and irritating as all hell (eg the “plus-size” fashion pages, proving you can “look good at any size”, with the model being a massive, oh-my-god-aren’t-they-really-breaking-down-barriers-here UK size 14 – US size 10), but the very worst was an article about vanity sizing, which was annoying on so many levels but included some quite appalling quotes from shop owners, viz:

    “Designers size their clothes meanly because they want to keep big people out of them. Having fat people wear your clothes is not good for a brand’s image. It’s a fact of life,” says Brix Smith-Start, former guitarist with the Fall and owner/buyer of Shoreditch designer boutique Start. “Miu Miu, for example, is very mean on its sizing. Its size 10 is smaller than Chloé’s size 10. Miu Miu doesn’t want heavier people wearing its stuff because beautiful people perpetuate the myth that only beautiful people wear the clothes.”

    And SHIT LIKE THIS only perpetuates the myth that you have to be a size zero to be beautiful!! The full, teeth-grindingly bad (on so many levels, including the writing) article can be found here. And now I really should shut up and go to bed. But I probably won’t.

  53. Yeah, no dearth of Jessicas over here. Not too many Moxie Crimefighters though — I forgot about that one and I fucking love it. Come on. Moxie Crimefighter. Penn is awesome.

    I agree with liking non-A-ending girls’ names, by the way (this is way upthread). As are very feminine, and I really hate the giving someone a nickname as a proper name thing — very infantilizing. I like Tate for a girl, though, and things like that. Tamar, I’m fond of. One of the nicknames for my name is fairly gender-neutral, and that’s the only one I use, including on my byline (I don’t want to be immediately recognizable as a woman). In fact, my only hesitation about taking my boyfriend’s last name when we get married is that the long and clearly female version of my name (Banquina, of course!) sounds better with his (much more pronounceable) last name.

    Deborah, Arthur is an awesome name. Not only is it both unusual and easy to spell/pronounce, but it’s the only Arthurian name that you can give a kid without being cruel. Like, apparently Tristan is in right now, but you can’t very well call a kid Bedivere or Griflet or even Perceval really. Even Gawain is out, though I like Gavin. Possibly this was not what you had in mind, but it is as good a reason as any.

  54. Avid reader, first time poster but how could I resist this topic! I would never give a child the name of a parent since I was named after my mother and got a cutesy nickname because she was using the only reasonable one. I have spent my life asking my family to at least not use the nickname when introducing me to others but they either ignore me or do it in a very sarcastic way. I have seven younger siblings and all of them got fairly nice boomer names that needed no explaining. I post as Caprice but that’s not my given name.

    When I named my children, I gave my son the name of the year without realizing it and named my daughter Margaret and called her Meg about a year before the first Megans arrived. When she was in grade school there was another Margaret nicknamed Gretchen but now they all seem to be Maggies.

    Now I play The Sims and one of the better features is getting to name all my little Sims! My 9 year old granddaughter, Amelia, plays with me at times and we have great discussions on what to name the new babies! Her first doll was named “Little Pooperhead” and I did have some worries that she might continue in that vein but now she prefers the “trash” names.

    Naming dogs is fun too. We had a Shelty born on the 4th of July that we named Liberty Belle. Her call name became Belle-belle because you really need two syllables and I wasn’t about to yell out Belllly!

    Kate is one of my favorite names and if I had had another daughter I would have named her that.

  55. What do you think about people naming kids after characters in books/movies/etc? Sometimes I think it’s a great idea, but then other times I wonder if you’re not condemning the kid to a lifetime of people going “Oh I HATED that movie.” For example, my friends gave their kid the middle name of Chance after Being There, which is a great but deeply ironic movie. I can’t help but think it’s a little unfair to saddle a child with the responsibility of explaining irony, you know?

  56. I was named Ruth, for my mother, and have always liked my name. I got a lot of “Dr. Ruth” and “Old Aunt Ruth” jokes growing up, but it made me unique. No offense to the Jessicas or Melissas here, but I didn’t wanna be part of your gang anyway. (Or maybe it was the J’s and M’s who didn’t want ME to be part of their gang, and I’ve got it all around. Well, at least the ones I knew, anyway.)

    And even though I don’t want children, here are names I would not be opposed to giving them should the ungodly occasion arise:

    Female: Amelia, Eve, Moira, Rose, Rosemary, Marie, Ethel, Elizabeth, Carol, Carin.

    Male: Richard, Tony (just plain Tony, my father’s name)…

    Actually, I can’t think of any more. If it’s not on the list, I’m not using it.

  57. Oof, “Chance” is a toughie. I mean, if you’re going to name someone after a character in a book, I feel like you want it to be one that is not the literary equivalent of Mr. Bean. It’s a nice name though.

    On the whole I think it’s great, though, as long as they won’t read the book and go “jesus, Mom, what do you THINK of me?” Like, no philanderers or murderers or whatever. Don’t name your kid Meurseault. But it’s a nice way to generate a kid’s name, and can actually make boring names more palatable. Like, I know someone who was named Jessica after Lady Jessica in Dune. Now, I happen not to like Dune, but at least she was named Jessica for a reason and not just because it was a popular name in the 80s.

    My sister also loves the idea of naming kids after songs… she found out that Chelsea Clinton was named after “Chelsea Morning” and got really jealous. Personally I’d’ve been more jealous if she were named after “Chelsea Hotel #2.”

  58. Her first doll was named “Little Pooperhead” and I did have some worries that she might continue in that vein but now she prefers the “trash” names.

    LOL! And yeah, kids do really go for the “trash” names, don’t they? I sure did, when I was one. That’s one more reason to work to prevent teen pregnancy.

    Sweet Machine, I think it depends on how closely the name is associated with the book/movie, and only the book/movie. Chance doesn’t sound all that unusual these days (plus, it’s only a middle name), so the kid has the option of never explaining what he was named for, if he doesn’t feel like it. An Atticus or Scout, on the other hand? Is not going to be able to avoid it.

    Ruth, I was glad my sister brought your name up as another that’s ripe for a comeback. It’s a good one.

  59. I should add that you should also be really, really familiar with the book in question, and not just trying to sound literary. Otherwise you end up like the detective in The End of the Affair.

  60. I’ve met a Celia! She’s French and gorgeous.

    For weirdness, nothing can beat a friend of mine. I found out yesterday, in fact, that what I always thought were her first and middle names are really her first name, and she has no middle name. I couldn’t really wrap my head around that. Her mother put two names in the first name spot on the birth certificate, (with a space between), no name in the middle name spot, and said that the first two were her first name. I kept thinking “But by definition the second name is in the middle! It’s a middle name!” Poor woman has been fighting the DMV her whole adult life over her name.

  61. When I was a teenager, my friends used the name “Emma” to refer to the visitor more commonly known as Aunt Flo. “Emma is visiting.” “Oh, crap, that means she’s coming with me next week on vacation.” “Yeah, you know how Emma loves to go on trips.”

    Fast-forward 10 years and our generation started popping out babies named … you guessed it. WHY would you name an innocent child after that time of the month? Well, of course they didn’t, but I still have trouble talking to some of their kids.

    My grandmother was Josephine Emmeline, and for some reason she hated the Emmeline and kept it secret for years. My mother was Josephine and went by Jo, exclusively, and hated being called Josephine. Any day now I’m going to meet some sweet young mom who has named her kids Josephine and Emmeline…

  62. No kidding! I thought just Kate was bad!

    Hey! Oddly enough, no one other than my parents, or one particular friend has ever called me Katie, although that friend would then tend to introduce me as Katie to her other friends, which was very strange indeed.

    Poppy is definitely big in Australia at the moment, as is Oscar. The oddest one though is Luca/Luka/Lucca; I know of four boys named that in the last three years, and none of them from Italian families either. I can only hope it’s inspired by Luka Bloom, and not the Suzanne Vega song.

  63. The oddest one though is Luca/Luka/Lucca; I know of four boys named that in the last three years, and none of them from Italian families either. I can only hope it’s inspired by Luka Bloom, and not the Suzanne Vega song.

    Perhaps TV strikes again — my first thought was the very yummy Dr. Kovac on ER.

  64. I have an aversion to naming girls after inanimate objects. Gems, plants are the most frequent ones. I most definitely don’t like the equation of women with things and wish the trend would die die die. Rowan and Myrtle are the only plant names I do like, the former because it doesn’t immediately bring a plant to mind and the latter because it actually sounds kind of tough for a woman’s name.

    I’m partial to Margaret, which is a family name. I like it because you can actually make it young: Maggie, Meggie, Megs for when she’s a little girl, and she can grow into it for her professional identity later while keeping a cool nickname for not being at the office.

    I don’t see a problem with Grace, though I think Faith, Hope, and Charity have been played out for a while. Maybe forever, aside from the obvious Buffy connotations of Faith, I think they’re too sacchrine.

    Winifred is really cool because you can have Fred for a nickname. Why yes, I watch Joss Whedon a lot.

    I’ve got a niece named Kyla, I think that’s a darling name. I think she might be named after her daddy, I’m not really close to that part of my family.

    Aside from the names that make me go searching for a can of Roundup, I think composite names are really dorky. Annabeth, Annamarie, Marybeth. Bleh. I’ve got no problem with it as Anna Beth Johnson or Anne Marie Smith, even using both names is ok, but running them together looks like someone couldn’t make up their mind.

  65. I’m glad I’m not the only one to think obsessively about naming!

    I think all parents-to-be should be issued a copy of “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana” when they go in for their first pre-natal visit. And have quizzes on it

    That book describes some of the reasons that things like me being one of 3 or more K/Ch/Cristin/e/as in my class every year growing up happen. Granted some of the suggestions for names given in the book are a little off the wall to me, it takes a serious look at naming trends.

    Many of my favorite names have been co opted in recent and the ones that haven’t all have what i refer to as “ass-kicking potential”, as in that is what will happen to a child with that name on the playground.

    I still like/would consider in the off chance i was a parent:

    Hazel, Maureen, Betty, Mae, Anne and a slew of ass kicking names for girls (Lorien, Luciente etc…)

    I really love the name Ignatius for a boy, it was my paternal grandfather’s name and i think it’s really nifty, but most people look at me in horror when i mention it. Me veyr favorite boys name is Llewellyn *sighs* ass-kickings would abound (it’s pronounced lew-ellen more or less).

    And oh yeah, as i said i have a very common name for my generation, and i hate it now partially because of how common it is. I go by a totally unrelated nickname socially.

  66. My favorite bad baby name story: A message board I frequent has a forum for parents-to-be and new parents. A poster asked for a good middle name for “Kaiser”.

    Someone straight-facedly (straight-textedly?) suggested “Wilhelm”. When I wondered if the rest of her children would subsequently be named things like Attila or Bennito, *no one knew what I was talking about*.

    And the unfortunate fallout of people who can’t spell their children’s names properly is that my cable bill is addressed to a “Kathrin”, instead of a Catherine, and I have to spell the whole thing out every. single. time I use it. “With a C” no longer suffices.

    I’m sad to see that Josephine is making a comeback – if I had another girl, that’s what I’d picked out, since Sophie/a is so overused. My daughter’s name (which is not, in actuality, “Bacon”) spiked at number 20 in the 1920s, according to the wizard, and was completely off the chart by 2000. She’s named after her great-grandmother, and it’s lovely, but I don’t want to start a popularity spike (or publish it on the net), so I’ll stick with delicious Bacon.

  67. Perhaps TV strikes again — my first thought was the very yummy Dr. Kovac on ER.

    Ahh! As a non-ER watcher that connection had gone right over my head. I’m much happier now.

  68. You’re the “hawt post” Kate!! when i sign onto wordpress- your fabulous face is what pops up!
    I don’t understand why Joy isn’t more popular. Just my .02

  69. I love this topic!

    I had an imaginary friend when I was little, his name was Joey Hopkins. Fast forward 20 years – my boyfriend’s last name? Hopkins. No one thinks that’s amazing but me.

    Presidential names are super popular right now, for some reason. One of my niece’s names is Madison and has my middle name, Elizabeth. My sister didn’t know that Madison was going to be a HUUUUUUGE name. Who would think that’d be such a big name?

    My other niece is Abigail Grace (heh). We call her Abby BoBabby, though :P

    If I ever have a girl, I’m set on Leah Michelle. I really like the name Leah and my sister’s name is Michelle. She would’ve been Michael had she been a boy. I also like traditionally male names for girls – Alex, Georgie, etc.

    My mom wanted to name me Beth but she thought it was too short. I’m still not sure how they ended up with Colleen Elizabeth. Colleen has never been a popular name.

    I had like, 10 friends named Jennifer growing up and I’m not exaggerating. They were all Jenny, Jennie, Jenni, Jen, Jenn, etc. It also seems like most women my age have “-y” names.

  70. Names I like, not that I intend having children, ever:

    Lydia (surprisingly popular according to the baby name wizard)
    Solveig
    Jocasta (Oedipus schmoedipus, I still like it)
    Mathilde
    Astrid
    Gráinne (pronounced somewhat like grawn-ya)
    Ailsa
    Beatrix

    Angus
    Diarmad
    Fearghas/Fergus
    Cormac
    Niall

    Yeah, I like Scottish names.

  71. From reading the Bad Baby Names site all day, I have been reminded that back in college, I was also obsessed with names, and I found a website where people would post their potential children’s names and you could vote on them. I used to read it a lot. And I swear to god — and this can’t have been real — a woman wanted to name her child “Schickagoe.”

    So of course the boyfriend and I spent a lot of time tonight thinking about naming kids for towns (Poughkeepsie, Murfreesburo, Schenectady… or perhaps Skynektydy) or car parts (Torque Converter). And this reminded me of a game Sweet Machine and I stayed up late playing in college, which was “no fair naming your kid…” and then pretty much anything you could think of. (It started as “no fair naming your kid an adjective when your last name is a noun” and went from there.) “No fair naming your kid Wrong Way” turned out to be a classic.

    Also, Sweet Machine isn’t going to tell you this, but she always planned on naming her first children Reginald Avoidance, Clark Kent Kent Kent Kent Kent and Baked Beans Junior, and Slut-Faced Whore.

  72. Unfortunately, my favorite names are already overused or would be by the time we had a child to name — Olivia, Sophie, Connor. My favorite boys’ names are Ian, Dante, and Rune, though I don’t know if I want to saddle a kid with “Rune”. Winifred/Fred would be cool, too, but I’m not a Buffy fan and would also be pissed off about it for the rest of my life; I really like Vivian/ne but I’d worry that people thought I named her after the character in Mists of Avalon.

    I’ve used up the best names on the cats: Lucy and Arthur. Lucy came pre-named and it is *her name*, as if God Herself had named her. Arthur I named after Monty Python and the Holy Grail, for he is King of the Kittens, but it would have been a fine boy’s name, too. (We have a third cat, named Wicket. After the Ewok ’cause she’s a tortoiseshell and my husband’s a Star Wars fan. But she’s a cat and does not have to visit the DMV or worry about what the other cats think of her name.)

    My birth middle name was “Elizabeth” and I hated it. Hated signing it, hated that it got all the cool nicknames and my first name gets “Rachie”, which I absolutely despise. (No one called me “Rach” until I got to college.) So when I got married I changed my middle name to my birth last name, “Lee”, which is ever so much better. My married last name is also way better.

    My grandmothers were Flora Helen and Henrietta Florence; I was nearly nicknamed “Lucina” after a great-grandmother. When I was growing up I desperately wanted to be named “Sally” and tried to go by it, but it didn’t stick.

    /name ramblings

  73. hehehe that’s funny, because choosing our kids names, we went through very much the same rigmarole ;)

    We wanted names that were old fashioned, but not so old fashioned (Myrtle — eek!), but also not bogan-popular (bogan is an Australian word for….white trash heh) like Grace, Madison (yech) etc etc.

    Also, having such a crappy unusual name where I had to correct everyone all the time (and yes, now Téa has become popular with the masses)

    So, for our daughter, her name is Mina. Its great because everyone knows a Mina but noone used the name. Our son is Jules.

    I really, really, like Harriet. Its really retro sounding, but not overly used either.

    I think the “Violet” trend has more to do with the Incredibles than the Affleck/Garners and Grohls ;)

  74. I’ve never met anyone else with my mother’s name: Luana. I was puzzled for years about why her Norwegian mother would have picked a Hawaiian name for her, but lo and behold: Luana breaks the U.S. top 1000 right around the year of her birth and then promptly vanishes. There were a couple of songs with that name in popular films of the early 40s (one was an Abbot & Costello picture, I forget the other), so I assume that’s what was responsible for the blip. (No blip is in evidence after Brian Eno’s use of the name in “Driving Me Backwards”, alas.)

    Then, after living for decades with an obscure name no one can pronounce or spell correctly, she… gives me an even more obscure name that no one can pronounce or spell correctly. I wouldn’t change it now, because it’s what I’m used to, but holy hopping FSM am I sick of having to hyper-enunciate it a minimum of three times to people I am introduced to at parties.

  75. …I totally identified with this post. I could well have written it, ‘cept I didn’t know about those sites before.

    As horrible as it is, though, if I had kids, my mythology obsession would probably kick in, and they’d all end up named after some obscure deities or heroes or something. (As a matter of fact, I just finished writing a short story about a character I created solely so I could name her Ankhiale.)

    I always liked my sister’s name (Victoria). And I like my name (Alexandra, shortened to Alix) – heck, I legally changed my old name to this one. I knew someone named Leonora, which I thought was a neat name. And I have a strange fondness for the name Ginger, though the only “person” I knew with that name was my grandmother’s crazy neighbor’s cat…

    I’ve never been able to stand the name Britney (or however it’s spelled); it seemed like every girl named Britney I ever knew was a complete jerk. And the name Charity just sounds … off, to me.

  76. I hate being a “Jennifer”. Hate hate hate hate it!

    If I had a kid, I’d probably study a map to see if any town names jump out as appealing.

  77. So, for our daughter, her name is Mina. Its great because everyone knows a Mina but noone used the name. Our son is Jules.

    Tea (forgive me for still not knowing how to do accents here), my friend Mean Asian Girl (whom I talk about here periodically) just named her baby Mina!

    Her story is that she was looking for Korean names, but couldn’t really find any she liked. (She’s very American; her husband is white; her parents were no help.) The only Korean girls’ name that ever comes up in the books is “Min.” She didn’t dig that, but it did make her think of Mina, and although the hub objected at first on grounds that she just wanted to be able to call her “Mina Asian Baby” (which of course we do — though it’s been amended to Mina Whasian Baby, to ackowledge the other half of her DNA) it stuck.

    It fits her perfectly, and damn if she’s not the cutest baby alive. Being as obsessed as I am with real names and nicknames, I would probably go for Wilhelmina if I wanted a Mina, but it definitely doesn’t bother me in a Katie-on-the-birth-certificate way. :) Thumbs up!

  78. My dad named me after a girl he went to school with, he thought her name, and its spelling, was neat. I could have done without being named Mariellen (pronounced Mary Ellen). No one can spell it correctly when they hear it, no one can pronounce it when they see it written. And my nickname, from a particularly hateful bitch in high school, was MaryElephant (thank you Cheech and Chong). People also wanted to call me Mare and got pissed when I told them to call me by my name, that I wasn’t a female horse. I really felt sorry for my brother tho. Our last name starts with K, and my folks named him Kenneth Karl, so his initials were KKK (he was born in 1956, so you can imagine the problems he had in the 60′s and 70′s). My dad was named Fred Henry after his dad, but no one calls him that. He got nicknamed Kim when he was in the AF (they dropped the “e” from his last name for that), and that’s what my mom, Barbara Ellen, calls him to this day (they’re both in their 70′s). I named my son Jonathan (after Jonathan Frid from Dark Shadows, loved that actor) Richard, his son is Mykel Jonathan, his daughter is Sonya Rene (his wife is Tina Rene). My step-granddaughter is Brooke Lynne, my step-grandson is Austin (not sure what his middle name is…..lol).
    When I named my son, I didn’t know that I had given him the same name that my mother’s dad had (her folks got divorced in the 1940′s) and my mom never talked about him.
    The girls I went to school with were Debbie, Diane, Donia, Carla, Jeanette, Jodi, Jane, Linda, Alice, Sue, Madonna, Gretchen, Sharon (that’s all I can think of, it’s been 35 years since graduation).

  79. Oh, and my online name? Vesta was a cat-lady in an E. E. “Doc” Smith science fiction book and she kicked ass. Vesta is also the goddess of vestal virgins, and I liked it, so when I was looking for an online name back 9 years ago when I first went online, I grabbed vesta and added my age (makes it easy to remember how long I’ve been messing with computers and the internetz).

  80. This thread has been great!

    I’m not nearly name-obsessed enough, so when I was naming my daughter (20something years ago) my main concern was that she have a NORMAL name. I named her Kimberly. She hates me for it. ;)

    My name is somewhat common now but it was downright strange when I was growing up. About 5 or 6 years ago I got an email from some chick demanding that I stop using my name online, because it infringed on her copyright or trademark or something. LOL!

    The girls I went to school with were Veronica, Sherry, Donna, Karen, Marlene, Margret, Rose, Rita, Lori or Laura, Carol, Beth, Paige. Very few with oddball names like mine (Keyota and Yolonda).

  81. Regarding the Luca naming in Australia: In Germany, Lucas/Lukas was the most popular baby name 2006, Luca/Lukas the third most popular, but I don’t think it had anything to do with (the delicious) Dr. Kovac. :-)
    (for those interested in the rest of the German ranking 2006: http://www.beliebte-vornamen.de/2006-pressemitteilung.htm)

    Regarding “Little Pooperhead”: My sister and I call each other Poophead; it has become such a habit that it sometimes slips out in public. :-) The name is from the kid’s TV show “Dexter’s Laboratory”. In one episode the sister, DeeDee, greets her brother, Dexter, with “Hiiiii Poophead!”. We thought this was so hilarious that we started calling each other Poophead, much to the dismay of our mother. LOL

  82. BTW Kate, thanks a bunch for this post/thread – it’s keeping me from studying for my physics exam next week… ;-)

  83. I’m a Sarah, and I like it ok, but I wish I could turn it into something gender neutral. Jo. Alex. Sam. Sarah is a good name and it does suit me, but I don’t identify as totally female and it irks me at times. Plus people try to nickname me Saz. STAB STAB STAB.

    My middle name is just Anne, after my mother. No problems there.

    For girls I like Sophie, Natalie (which I would totally shorten to Nat), Lillian, Ruth, Harriet. Maybe Amanda. Boys get Arthur (LOVE), Alan, Phil, Simon, Michael, Joseph, Gareth. I do have a couple of confessions to make. I have a mad thing for the name Sebastian. And for a girl, uh…Summer. I like Summer.

  84. Fantastic thread! I used to have a great long list of names I loved, but as the years passed and I noticed them getting more and more popular, the list has got smaller and smaller. I do like Cecilia though and Vincent. And I don’t think I could go for my grandmothers’ names: Verlie and Agnes. Too much ‘Huh?’ potential in the first, and plain old-ladyness in the second.

    Oh, and I think it was Karin who said she didn’t have a nicknamable name? In Australia, there’s no such thing. Karin, you’d be Kaz, whether you liked it or not. My name’s Kylie, and I get Ky or Kyles. And many more unmemtionable names courtesy of my brother.

  85. Karin, I like your name and the spelling of it so I can see why your mother was dismayed by Poophead but Amelia would probably love it. Maybe not so much now since she’s nine and the bathroom humor is mostly controlled but earlier– definitely! I had a neighbor at one time who was called Corky whose parents nicknamed him that as a newborn because of his corkers of farts! Sometimes those loving little names stick. Aren’t you glad Poophead is just between you and your sister!

  86. Caprice, the funny thing is that the Poophead naming started when I was about 16/17 and my sister was 14/15 (we’re 25 and 23 now)… ;-) And we both insist that it stays between the both of us – when my dad and stepmom started calling us Poophead (because they thought that it was hilarious) we were both kind of in a bit of a snit because they were using OUR special nickname for each other (I guess it’s sort of a sister bonding thing). *shrug*

    Rosiecakes, the nickname Kaz is cool, but I doubt I could get anybody here to call me that. :-(
    My parents named my sister Erika in hope that nobody could find a nickname for her, but sure enough her friends started calling her Ery (again to the dismay of our mom).

  87. Oh, and I think it was Karin who said she didn’t have a nicknamable name? In Australia, there’s no such thing. Karin, you’d be Kaz, whether you liked it or not.

    I AM MOVING TO AUSTRALIA.

    This and Sarah who gets stabby when called Saz reminded me — that nicknaming convention is definitely not popular here, if it exists at all. I remember reading Bridget Jones and thinking “Shazzer” was a cute nickname for Sharon, but I also thought it was just something Bridget made up. Then the internet introduced me to Laurens called Loz and Darrins called Daz (most of whom seem to be Australian), and I realized it’s a well-established pattern. I LOVE IT.

    Of course, the context I’ve usually seen it in on the internet is, “My name is Lauren/Darrin/Sarah and I CANNOT STAND IT when people call me Loz/Daz/Saz.” So maybe that’s why it never caught on over here. But I still think it’s kind of awesome (says the woman who adores nicknames and would happily name a child Roz).

  88. My parents named my sister Erika in hope that nobody could find a nickname for her, but sure enough her friends started calling her Ery (again to the dismay of our mom).

    I have a friend named Paige with a sister named Erica, both names chosen for their non-nickability. But Ricki Lake is proof that Ericas are not immune, and I have another friend named Paige who goes by P. It can always be done.

    Oh, and Karin, is your name pronounced like CAR-in or CARE-in? I’m assuming the former, which is much more unusual here … though of course an American (living here) named CAR-in would have to spend her whole life telling people it’s not CARE-in. (I also have an Indian-American friend named Kiran, who is called Karen constantly and sees her name spelled Kieran about as often. People hearing it as Karen is understandable, but with the spelling, she’s just like, “Do I LOOK like an Irish man to you?”)

    Also: Damn! Emily and Finn have even made the German list!

  89. It occurs to me that I know a baby (well, toddler) Agatha called Gaz. Which I think is unbearably cute.

    Sarah, how about Sal?

  90. Sarah, how about Sal?

    See, I would be all over using that for a kid, except for the fact that no one other than name-obsessed freaks knows that Sally started out as a nickname for Sarah. So a Sarah called Sal — at least in the U.S. — would spend her whole life explaining that no, “Sally” does not appear on her birth certificate, and yes, it’s a historically accurate nickname.

    I wouldn’t think that would be a terrible burden, but my sister Mary-called-Molly would STRONGLY disagree.

  91. My name is pronounced CARE-in in English (like Karen) and car-EEN (jeez, it’s hard to spell the pronounciation!) in German. When I lived in the States, my name was constantly misspelled by school administrations (for example) and is still often misspelled by my American relatives (who should know better by now). It just bugs the hell out of me.

    Re. Emily/Finn: English/American names are quite popular here (Justin is in the Top 20 for 2007) and I think that it has to do with in the increasing influence of the American Way of Life in German culture. English/American is regarded as cool and hip: so a lot of English words have seeped into the German language, many advertising slogans (even for German products) are in English and about 70 % (maybe even more) of the video clips shown on MTV are English as well.

    Emily is the English form of “Emilie” (pronounced kind of like Amelia).

    Finn, on the other hand, is actually a name of Scandinavian and Irish origin and means “belonging to the Finnish (tribe/people)”.
    It used be a name exclusively used in Northern Germany (the names there are usually of Scandinavian origin), but in the last two years its popularity in other parts of Germany has rapidly increased.

  92. Ah, car-EEN! I never even thought of that!

    Over here, Finn was/is just part of the Irish or Vaguely Irish Names trend (Conor, Aidan, Liam, and Caitlin — though the last started earlier) that got huge here recently, even among those who have no Irish heritage.

    Of course, that reminds me that names like Erin and Shannon peaked at around the same time — and Colleen was a little before that, Ryan a little after — so the trend is really nothing new. Except that it’s mostly real names this time around, instead of just Irish words, place names, and surnames. (Oh, wait, Brian peaked along with Erin and Shannon, too.)

    I was about to say that Ryan (my grandmother’s maiden name, which I like the idea of for a girl) was a precursor of the surnames-as-firstnames trend, but I was surprised to learn that Ryan peaked much later than I thought — it was, in fact, a part of that trend. I went to school with a ton of Ryans, but apparently, their parents were early adopters; Ryan actually peaked right around the same time as Taylor… though Logan peaked a bit later.

  93. I was one of the first wave of Jennifers, born 41 years ago yesterday. My name was going to be Samantha until Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon named their daughter Jennifer and my mom decided she liked that better. There aren’t too many Jennifers who are my age, but a zillion who are about 5 – 10 years younger.

    I like that Jennifer has so many variations. My college roommate actually called me “Niffer” … which I thought sounded more like a name for a cat than a person. As an adult, I’ve pretty much settled on Jenn, although I had my Jenny phase as a pre-teen. My mother tried desperately to not have my name (or my sister Elizabeth’s) shortened to nicknames, but no luck.

    Funny names I’ve heard: I went to high school with Jay and Robin Bird, which I always thought was kind of cruel. A friend in college went to school with twins whose parents thought “Shawn” and “Sean” were two different names: one pronounced Shawn and the other pronounced Seen. They weren’t Irish. Thank God they weren’t triplets … I can’t imagine how they would have pronounced Shaun.

    My husband knows a fellow toy geek whose daughters are called Harley Quinn and Batgirl (yep, that’s her legal name).

  94. jmars, happy belated birthday! And Kevin Smith has a daughter named Harley Quinn, too, same reason. Batgirl’s pretty disturbing, though.

    I can’t wait to see what happens when Jennifer is inevitably revived by our grandkids — will it get obscenely popular again? It really is a pretty name (I was in my 20s before I realized it’s a variation on Guinevere), but man, there is NO way I can divorce it from the 80 gazillion Jennifers I went to school with.

    Oh, and that reminds me, cheri, I meant to say that Kimberly falls into exactly the same category for me. If I just say the name, I think it’s beautiful. But of course I can’t just say the name without thinking of the 80 gazillion Kimberl(e)ys I went to school with. One of my sister’s best friends is named Kim, so she (sis) was considering that when she got pregnant — she forced me to actually say the name to myself WITHOUT all the associations and admit that it’s nice, which it is. But I still argued strongly that the name was just way too played out, which it also is. And then she only had boys anyway.

    And THAT reminds me that Beverly’s another one I think is ripe for return. Though the only Bev I know complains that she’s spent way too much of her life telling people her name is not Beth. That would be annoying.

    Also, for the record, I do like many of the Jens and Kims I know. I just hate a bunch of others, which is the problem with a wildly popular name.

  95. Jumping in here with random name stuff..

    My daughter is Gwyneth Morganne. I had no idea Morganne/Morgan would be so popular that year (1997), but I ran into lots of them when she was little. I’ve only met one other Gwyneth, though – a little girl we ran into in Old Navy. Her mother was just as surprised as we were to find another one. Generally, people fall into two camps about the name Gwyneth – those who “get it” and those who don’t. Those who don’t “get it” are invariably older or – I hate to say it – less educated. Their eyes sort of glaze over and they mumble, “That’s cute.” Very cool sidenote: Anna Nalick (“Breathe”) complimented my daughter on how beautiful her name was when we met her after a private concert.

    Now on to weird name stuff: Gwyneth has gone to school with Malaysia, Corsica, and Diamond Black. That last kid, God bless her, won’t even have to change her name when she takes up stripping. She also had a classmate named Dasgie, which I thought was sorta cool until I found out it was pronouced Deja, as in Deja Vu. Now I could come up with about a zillion different spellings that could actually be pronounced Deja (D’Asia, Dayzha, etc.), but Dasgie just isn’t one of them. Sadly, from what I know of this child, I’m pretty sure her mother didn’t understand that the combination of letters she chose just didn’t add up to the pronunciation she was after.

    And don’t even get me started on the names my sister (a 30+ year teaching veteran) has run across. Preshus comes to mind – yeah, pronounced like the REAL word. I pity that kid having to function as an adult with that name. And Brooklyn Burrows, which makes me giggle even as I shake my head. Since the parents were southerners, it’s my guess they never even associated their child’s name with the Borough of Brookyn, NY.

  96. My best friend of 29 years and I share a pet name with each other: “Sugar Booger”

    I can’t even remember how that got started. It was probably her.

    My youngest son narrowly missed having “Columbian” as a middle name — hey, it was the 70s, OK — and I’m just sure it was his dad’s idea. Fortunately, the moment passed.

  97. It’s funny – the boy and I don’t plan on having children, but I already have several girls names picked out. The top name is probably Ragan Ann (for the King Lear daughter, NOT the horrible president). It’s a mixture of my name, Rachel, and my sister’s, Megan, and Ann is my middle name also.

    Also love Waverly, from reading The Joy Luck Club, and Olivia (Livvie for short). Gillian was an old favorite, but I hate the name Jill. Genevieve is also beautiful, but I’d hate for it to be shortened to Jen, as in Jennifer.

    If we do have kids, hopefully we won’t have any boys because I have no clue on boys names. I liked Jack Henry for a long time, until my brother told me it sounds like a lumberjack.

    Since I don’t have kids, I’ve fashioned my love of naming onto the cats. I currently have Bella, Grayson, Chloe and Zoe, as well as Teddy, who was named after Theodore Roosevelt. Our Evie died several years ago.

  98. I HEART Moxie Crimefighter!!

    Has anyone ever asked what their names might have been had they been the opposite gender? I asked one day and
    my mom told me if I had been a boy, my dad would have named me. His choices were Dallas John or Tex Autry. THANK YOU GODDESS I was a girl!!

    I told her that I was grateful to have been born a girl and that she named me Kym, a slight twist in an homage to Kim Novak. She did give me her maiden name as my middle name, Sewell. Hated it as a child love it as an adult.

    Lilith though is one of my favorite girl names, which is why I chose it as my online moniker.

    I also like the name Gwenyth ( my mother in laws name ) as well as Hazel ( my grannys name ).Some of my other favorite names are Beatrice, Marie, Wendy, Rowan, Gwyneira, Oh and Sophie and Chloe.For boys I like the name Connor, Dafydd ( welsh form of David), Llywellyn, ( even though I know it would get shortened to Lou ), Morgan, and Stephen.

    When I was much younger and still following the Grateful Dead and going to Rainbows, I heard a lot of unique names for the kiddies. One of my favorites was “Welcome Home Joshua Brighteyes Zimmerman something something something”.
    ( I dont think there are enough spaces on any form for him to fill out his full legal name.)
    He went by Welcome & he was this cute as bug kid at a Rainbow in Pennsylvania. I sometimes wonder how he would be once he got older. Would he change it, drop parts of it or leave it …]

    Names I don’t like are the oh so trendy car names and that ilk. Naming your child Lexus bothers me. I can understand Mercedes that is older then the car. But for the child named Acura… sad. Then there are the Teegans and Keegans and… so on. My nephews class at school is full of them.

    Some friends of mine have named their children Castle ( boy ), Decker ( boy ) and Vena Rose ( girl ) They probably wont find anyone else with those names. I have another friend whose daughters name is Bella Dax. After a certain Star Trek character. Then there is a little girl I know with the middle name Akira from the japanese anime.

    I have been reading you now for a few months and I love your way of looking at things. I have wanted to comment for awhile and tell you how much I appreciate what you say.
    Then when I do its like a flipping novel and I barely remembered to mention how much I just adore and admire this blog and you. But I loved this, and I love names so I think I was a bit distracted.
    I am bad about my love of names and naming things, people etc. Don’t get me started on the various names I have for cars, plants, animals, computers, houses etc. I am a naming fool.

  99. We have the absolute worst names in my family… and we tend to pass them down. Erminia, Bertha, Avis, Arvilla, Arleta. My grandfather’s was the worst – Seaman. (Seriously!) I lucked out and got Alice and won’t be passing along any of the above.

    My hubby has an irrational preference for 4-letter names (don’t ask me why, he just does), so we’re going for Emma Louise and Paul Action. Yes, “Action.” We want to get our son to get laid in college by giving him the line, “Well, Action IS my middle name.” :)

  100. I’m just obessed with the name “Hyacinth” for, obviously (or…not, I guess) a girl. That and Rosemary after my grandmother who, while evil, had an awesome name.

    Working at the ol’ welfare office has about broken me in regards to names. If I have to add another baby named “Tequila (or the popular alternate spelling of “Tequilla”), I’m going to just start putting the name in as “Stripper.”

  101. I was graced with the #1 girls name in the 60′s. Lisa. I went to school with, oh, 15 or so Lisa’s. When I was in college there were 8 of us living on one wing. Most were Lisa Anne’s but I was Lisa Marie. I like to say I’m the original Lisa Marie. Elvis had nothin’ on my Mama. Up thread someone mentioned April maybe making a comeback. My youngest niece, who’s 24, is April. I’ve yet to meet another. If I had a little girl I’d name her after my grandmother, Claire Frances. A little boy would be named after a favorite uncle, Raleigh. I have no idea what middle name, maybe Michael.

  102. On the what would you would have been named front, my mother was convinced I was a boy and so Geoffry William I would have been. I like it. I kind of wish she would have named me Geoffry after all.

  103. Oh, and had my paternal aunt had her way, I would have been named Goldie because there was a flock of goldfinches in the yard the day I was born.

  104. Christine – I know a lady in her 60′s named Precious. Her parents must have been forward thinkers – or something.

    jmars, my sister (who is 46) is also a Jennifer.

    It seems the name was chosen as a nod to our Grandmother. Her name was pronounced Ja-vonny (I have no idea how to spell it), but she hated it and was known as Jennie. Even her DL said “Jennie”. Her real name was like some deep dark secret, or something. Her tombstone says Jennie, for the love of all that’s holy! LOL

    My sister Jennifer was called Jenny as a child, and I still call her that. Most of the rest of the world calls her Jenn.

    Weirdly, when we were teenagers (mid 70′s) our Aunt (Mom’s sister) had a daughter and named her Jennifer, too. The second Jennifer was dubbed “Jennie-Marie” to avoid conflict and confusion.

    Apparently my name, Cheri, was chosen by a parish priest who mediated a mild dispute regarding my name. My Grandfather on one side of the family wanted me to be named Sherry. The other side wanted a more French name. My Mom wanted something unusual. So, obviously Cheri, right?

    Kate – If I hadn’t been so scarred by the weird name thing as a child, my ex husband might have had a chance to convince me to name my daughter Kimber Lee. I know Kimber turned out to be common, but at the time it was downright edgy. She prolly would have hated me for that, too, but at least I could have blamed him. LOL!

    Lilith Sativa – If I had been a boy I would have been Leslie. *gag*
    If my daughter had been a boy she would have been a Jr.
    And – you’re going like this – if my grandson had been a girl, he would have been Lilith.
    I love that name, btw.

  105. I was lumbered with Michaela at birth. Nobody calls me that. Nobody. (And they’d better not start). Worse still, my surname is Taylor and I spent the entirety of my childhood assuring people Michaela wasn’t supposed to rhyme with it. In my 20s I briefly had a thumping crush on a man with the surname of Tyler; imagine the fun if we’d married. My dad always swore if he’d spelled it Mikhaila, I’d’ve liked it. He was very, very wrong.

    I love some old fashioned girls names – Lily, Rose, Iris, Ivy, Ruby, Sadie, Tilly, Beatrice, Amy, Nell and Grace but dislike the ones that sound like Ealing Comedy charladies from the 1930s (Olive, Mildred, Mabel, Ethel, Myrtle, Beryl). Where boys are concerned I think Jack is probably the only old git’s name I can hack that isn’t a biblical one. Camelot aside, I’m afraid I can’t be doing with Arthur, (though Kay or Kai are quite nice). And saddling some poor little toddler with a monicker like Percy, Norman, Albert or Horace is simply tantamount to child cruelty in my book.

    One thing that’s always baffled me is the use of often quite ugly surnames as first names, especially for girls. I’ve met quite a few in the US over the years – Baynard and Ridley being two that spring to mind – and now the trend seems to be taking root in the UK. I also can’t stand those godawful made-up names that seem to proliferate on Jerry Springer – there are loads of them on Baby’s Named A Bad Bad Thing.

    Moon Unit might not be up to much but Dweezil’s the best name ever! (Maybe not for a person but it suits my cat admirably). If I’d had a son I’d have named him Alexander after my grandfather; a daughter, Amy or Amelie, (I liked it before the film).

  106. Kate in England wrote: “plus it would fit with the husband’s predilection for first names that sound like surnames.”

    My nephews are named Riley, Camden and Sutton. Sutton came from a streetsign that my sil saw when she was pregnant.

    My sons had to have names that were pronouncable in English (for my American family) and Spanish (for dh’s Bolivian family). #1 son is Gabriel, which I picked (his dad had no input at that point) after Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I was kind of pretentious, not because I loved his novels. But I do love the name, it’s unusual, but not unheard of, no one has a hard time pronouncing it. I actually don’t really like the nickname “Gabe”, that my family uses. When he was a baby, some of my Spanish-speaking friends started calling him “Gaby” (Gah-bee) which does sound kind of girly, but I like it for that. He usually says that he prefers Gabriel, and it really fits him.

    #2 son is named Raphael, after his paternal grandfather. It could have been Rafael, but my mom, who is all into numerology, suggested that the “ph” would work better. His middle name is Matteo, also an unusual spelling for the Spanish name, but I think Mateo looks weird. The original idea was to call him “Teo”, which I l-o-v-e, but “Rafi” became the default nickname, and only his brother calls him Teo.

    Without intention, we ended up being on the cusp of sickening cuteness, because three of us have “G” names, and the 2 boys are named after archangels. I WILL NOT name a 3rd boy (should one come along, which I am not planning on) Michael!

    My name is Gwendolin Beth. I met one other Gwen, much older than me, when I was a child. I hated my name as a child. I thought it unfair that I had to have a weird name, weird hippie parents, live in the least conforming looking house, be chubby and have bad hair. Now, I love it. In college, one of my best friends was also Gwen, which was very weird for both of us.

    My name is spelled with an “i” instead of a “y” because, as I mentioned, my mom is into numerology, and “y”s are bad news apparently. I am constantly spelling! Over the phone, people usually think my name is “Glenn” That, plus my last name, McCrea, which we assume comes from MacRae via French Canadian immigration officials.

    On the subject of old-fashioned names for girls, I have some friends who named their daughter Mabel a couple of years ago. At first I thought it was too much, but now I love it. And gem names? I met an older woman a few years ago named Beryl, which I actually kind of like, but I think it is squarely in the category of won’t-come-back.

  107. Oh, the drawbacks of being in a completely different timezone!!
    Rosiecakes, the nickname Kaz is cool, but I doubt I could get anybody here to call me that.
    My parents named my sister Erika in hope that nobody could find a nickname for her, but sure enough her friends started calling her Ery (again to the dismay of our mom).

    Karin, how about just introducing yourself to people as ‘Kaz’? Of course, that only works with new people, not family, friends, colleagues…how fun would your childhood have been if you and your sister had been known as Kaz and Ez? Or Kazza and Ezza?

    Of course, the context I’ve usually seen it in on the internet is, “My name is Lauren/Darrin/Sarah and I CANNOT STAND IT when people call me Loz/Daz/Saz.” So maybe that’s why it never caught on over here.
    Frankly, when people call me ‘Kyles’ it OFTEN rhymes with ‘coils’, so, yeah, Aussie nicknames are usually something the nicknamee loathes. So, calling people Kazza, Shazza, Dazza, Loz, Soz, Deano, Trace or Soph is my not-so-subtle revenge.

  108. I absolutely LOVE the name Clara. Of course, my husband and mother hate it..but I love it. I have loved it since I was 11 (1996) when mackenzie, austin, savannah and mckenna were all the-rage and nobody picked Ava or Liam or anything “old”.

    I also have a fascination with names..mostly with personalities that tend to be similar within names. Like, I’ve never met a Jessica in my life that hasn’t been surrounded by drama. Doesn’t mean they are bad people or good, just always with the drama! haha. My name is Elizabeth. I do not go by Beth, Liz, Lizzy, Libby or anything else. Just Elizabeth. I’ve had to say “Nope, just Elizabeth” probably 3948492092832.3 billion times since birth. People are always trying to pin a nickname onto me but I just don’t FEEL like a Liz or Beth. Beth’s tend to be timid while Liz’s are fiesty/bitchy..I’m somewhere in the middle.

    I completely agree with you on the Violet thing. I think it’ll be the next flower name. I also want my childrens names to be SOMEWHAT unique..doesn’t have to be so odd that people snicker, but something that isn’t completely engulfed in classrooms. I had so many friends named Jennifer and Ashley and there were so many Chris’ in school they had to be Chris A. Chris W. etc. It was pretty insane.

  109. oh, also, my middle name is Sheryl which I love…as you can tell since I use it to differentiate myself from other Elizabeth’s online. :) I’m named after my aunt Sheryl Jo..and my name was ALMOST Mallory Jo which I’m so glad did not come to pass. My mom apparently liked Family Ties (I was born in 1985). Also, if I had been a boy I was going to be Tanner which I hate but is kind of popular now (but would have been terrible for me growing up).

  110. Buffpuff, I am delighted to learn the mystery of your real first name! I wondered if your nickname was actually short for something or unrelated. And I think your pronunciation of Michaela is really pretty, but it would never fly here now, because all the little squibs with that name DO rhyme it with Taylor (well, sort of). Hence the ultra-annoying alternative spelling McKayla, which cashes in on the Michaela, fake surname, and randomly Celtic trends all at once (plus the dregs of the Kayla trend, which I suspect also had much to do with the rise of Michaela).

    Fillyjonk, I just went out with a friend who said, “So, is Fillyjonk’s name really Banquo???” Heh.

  111. Fillyjonk, I just went out with a friend who said, “So, is Fillyjonk’s name really Banquo???” Heh.

    Hahahah! S/he must have been so confused when we were talking about it rocketing to #1 in the 80s…

  112. I loved two names in my life:

    1985: I was going to name my imaginary daughter Sussudio. I swear to god.

    In 1991, I was going to name my child Avalon.

    Thank god I don’t have kids.

  113. Cheri – was this 60-something Precious a southern lady, by any chance? Because I’ve run into a few of those myself over the years. Another old southern name I’ve encountered in old southern ladies is Bliss. That one intrigues me, even if it’s not quite to my tastes.

  114. Oh man, I love this thread. I have so much to say about names, and not even a cat to give one to.

    My name is the Italian version of Claire or Clara (or Klara as in Heidi’s friend) and goes really well with my crazy fat-girl Italian last name. Apparently hippie mom
    wanted to name me Claire because she liked the idea of clarity or whatever, but as she went into labor my dad went, oh, hey! The baby’s going to have an Italian last name, so let’s name her Chiara instead of Claire! And mom was like “FINE.” And then my American grandmother (named Helen, sister to Edna) couldn’t pronounce it (it’s like Chianti, in that it’s pronounced Key-are-ah instead of Chee-are-ah) so she asked if she could give me an English name, Joy. By the time my sister rolled up my mom was so tired of pronouncing and spelling my name for people she decided to go with a simple Biblical name for my sister: Rebecca. We called her Becky until quite recently when she decided to go by the full thing, which I happen to think is gorgeous. I used to hate my name and wanted nothing more than to be named Stacy, but now I quite like it. I recently met my first Other Chiara and it was SO disorienting to hear other people talking to her at the party…I don’t know how Kates and Sarahs do it.

    When I was in elementary school in Miami we had not one but two Ernestos (one of which shortened to Nene), several Felipes, and not one but two Beatriz-es (one of them went by Betty). I love love love the Spanish pronunciation of Gabriel–face it, any dude called Gaby is HOTT– and Rafael, and I love Cecilia (always shortened to “Ceci,” in my school), Soledad, Marisol, and Amada for girls’ names.

    I love Italian names as well and would love to give something (a hamster?) my grandfather’s name which was Gennaro. My Italian grandmother went by Carmen just because she felt like it (she was an opera fan) but had about eighteen official names, one of which was Vincenza, which I think is a pretty hard-core old-lady name. And dig if you will the name of a cousin of mine from Queens: Delores Carmella Giordano Salere. She goes, of course, by Dee.

  115. 1985: I was going to name my imaginary daughter Sussudio. I swear to god.

    And once again, I say: this kind of shit? Is the best reason of all to discourage teen pregnancy.

  116. Chiara, I grew up with a Kiara (the spelling did help with the pronunciation, though I don’t think it looks as pretty as your name — and she probably has to deal with people thinking it’s pronounced Keera), so I thought it was a perfectly normal name for a long time. Then I realized nobody else had it. Love the story of how you got your name.

  117. I think Kiara looks really weird, myself, but I am biased. Going to Italy the first time was really interesting because everyone could pronounce my name and I never stopped having pictures taken of me standing underneath street signs called Via Chiara, smiling the smile only smileable by someone who has had that puzzled pause every sinlge year on the first day of school when the teacher takes roll call.

    One of the coolest moments of my life was when I was in a big circle of English speakers named things like Kelly and Lexi and Kim, introducing ourselves to an Italian, and when I said my name he gave a visible sigh of relief and went “Finally, something that’s easy to say!” I was in HEAVEN.

  118. the smile only smileable by someone who has had that puzzled pause every sinlge year on the first day of school when the teacher takes roll call

    My mom was a substitute teacher for a while, and one day she had a high school class with a Siobhan in it. When mom took attendance and pronounced Siobhan correctly, the girl nearly fell off her chair. Apparently, that was the first time any teacher, substitute or otherwise, had ever known how to pronounce her name.

    Like I said above, the name obsession might be hereditary. :)

  119. This is such and interesting topic! I honestly thought that I was the only person in posession of Dictionaries of names! I am Finnish myself and I am intrigued by the name Finn. Does anyone know does it actually refer to Finnish people of Finland ( the country), or some celtic/Irish tribe by the same name?

    My name Hannele is a diminutive of Hannah. I think it is of Germanic origin.Very popular as a second name in Finland, but rare as a first name. Mine is a second name as well, but started to use it at sixteen, since my first name Sari was the most popular name of the year of my birth. We had six Saris in my class. Now I would prefer Sari again, which is of course a version of Sarah/Sara. I live abroad and get to spell my name a lot…

    You might be interested/appalled to hear that in the early 90s when the Bold and the beautiful soap started in Finland quite many babies were named as Ridge or Brooke…they really do not work with Finnish surnames…

  120. Christine – Ms. Precious is a very southern lady. Preacher’s wife, (well, widow now) even. I don’t know anyone named Bliss.

    Has anyone else noticed men of a certain generation who are named what are now female names? I’m talking about men born in the 30′s named Cheryl, Beverly and Hillary. What’s up with that? Is this also a southern thing?

    This is a great thread . . .

  121. Eleanor said a bazillion years ago (but was stuck in the spam filter for a day — sorry!): I’ve definitely noticed there are a lot more little Ellies around in the UK than there used to be.

    And apparently, that’s what’s on their birth certificates. :)

    I love the name Eleanor — have always loved both Ellie and Nora as nicknames (yes, I’m such a nickname fascist, I can’t even accept Nora as its own name), and I’m starting to like Nellie now that Ellie’s super-popular and Little House has been off the air for long enough.

    I can understand kids having trouble spelling it, but adults should know better, dammit! This is part of why I hate the kre8tyv name spellers; they muck it up for everyone. No, it is NOT easier to just spell it “Ellenor” (which is how Camryn Manheim’s name on The Practice was spelled, which drove me mental, as does Camryn), because anyone who knows it should be spelled Eleanor will then misspell it, so the kid’s screwed anyway. I am happy to see that the variant Elinor (which doesn’t bother me quite as much) dropped right off the chart at the same time Eleanor dropped in popularity, though the latter remained on the chart in small numbers and is, not surprisingly, rising again.

    But you know what the 109th most popular boy’s name in the 1960s was? “Micheal.” GAAAAAAH. To pick up on Fillyjonk and Sweet Machine’s game, NO FAIR NAMING YOUR KID SOMETHING EVEN YOU CAN’T SPELL. And of course, there’s not a Caitlin alive who won’t have to spell her name everywhere she goes, forever, because of all the damn Katelyns and Kaitlyns and Kaitlins and Katelynns and Katelynnes and Kaytlyns…

    In other news, I knew a (midwestern) Bliss when I was 13. I blame hippie parents for that one.

    And Cheri, I forgot that Cheryl was originally a man’s name! Ashley and Tracy, too. (My dad, born in the ’30s, STILL likes Beverly for a boy.) Laura of Name Voyager did a blog post a while back about that. It seems that once a name goes female, there’s no reclaiming it EVER for men. Which is sort of understandable, but also sort of incredibly sexist and a bummer.

    She found one exception, though: Lee. It got to be recognized as a girl’s name, but has always been more popular as a boy’s name, and the name stayed on the charts throughout most of the 20th century for both genders. Interestingly, though, it’s been off the chart for girls since the ’90s. I thought that might have been because of the spelling Leigh — which did indeed rise as Lee fell — but BOTH are now off the charts, which surprised me. (Whenever I talk names, someone always brings up loving the name Leigh for a girl. And always spelled that way.)

    But, wait, what’s this… Lea/Leah starts skyrocketing at the same time Lee goes bye-bye for girls. Superfluous, faux-posh A-endings (which I still kind of like, mind you) strike again! I wonder if Lee/Leigh will come back in when the A-ending trend dies down, or if it’s officially dead as a girl’s name. In which case, it would be the only name that triumphed as a boy’s name even after it started being used for girls.

    (Laura may have said all that on the blog, btw, but I’m too lazy to go looking for that entry. All I remember from reading it was that Lee had remained constant for both genders much longer than any other name used for both.)

  122. Well, I did not know that Cheryl was originally a male name.

    I always found it interesting that the old guys that have the (now) female names go by nicknames. Butch seems to be a popular nickname for a man named Cheryl – I know two. lol. Also Tiny, Tubby and Booga for Beverly-s and Tracy-s (I forgot about Tracy). Male nicknames are interesting.

    My Dad is a Hillary. I never knew that Hillary was a female name until HRC came on the scene. My baby sister named her daughter Hillary, after Dad.

  123. My baby sister named her daughter Hillary, after Dad.

    Aw, that’s awesome! Hillary first hit the charts here in the 1960s — while Hilary, one L, started in the 40s — so I suspect Sir Edmund kicked off that trend. I grew up with a couple. That’s another name, I love, btw, and I go back and forth on whether I wouldn’t use it because of HRC, or I would use it and be proud of the association. Maybe that depends on whether she becomes the first woman president. :)

    Oh, and re: naming girl babies after Grandpa, my dad is William, and I love Willa… but at this point, I’m afraid a Willa would spend her whole life telling people it’s not Willow. (Can Buffy make a few more appearances on this thread, you think? But Willow is the only girl’s name beginning with Wil currently on the charts.) My mom’s name was Patricia, and although I like the idea of naming a kid after her — and don’t mind Tricia — I’m not in love with the name. I DO love Patrick for a boy, except that there, Pat is an inevitable nickname, and Mom, who went by Pat, would come back to haunt the hell out of me if I gave a child a name that rhymes with fat.

    And with that, we come full circle.

  124. My brother an sister-in-law named their daughter Klara and everytime I think of the name, I think of a cow.

    Rowan is an awesome name, and not very common. I also like Tegan for a girl. Also, since I’ve been watching the cake challenges on HGTV, I’ve come to love the name Bronwyn.

  125. I like Tegan for a girl too. I said so to my boyfriend last night, and he said “sure, if you want everyone to think she’s a Russian crypto-lesbian.” Apparently he had Tegan & Sara confused with Tatu.

    It also occurred to me last night that my favorite unusual friends’ names (the names are unusual, I mean; of course, the friends kind of are too) totally give the lie to what I said about not liking girls’ names that end in A. Not only do they end in A, but they are both plants/flowers: Acacia and Japonica. (Japonica is unfortunately un-nicknameable, but Acacia goes by Cacie.)

  126. Apparently he had Tegan & Sara confused with Tatu.

    Ha ha ha!

    And Rachel, I like Rowan, too. My mom’s favorite tree was the rowan/Mountain Ash, and we planted one in Dad’s yard when she died. As his house is lakeside, this prompted him to give the homestead the official name of Rowan on the Bay.

    Yeah, my love of bad puns is also totally hereditary.

  127. My daughter is Cassandra and my son is Aemon.

    I LOVE the name Elizabeth (it’s my middle name), but my husband has vetoed it. It’s his mom’s name, his gramma’s name, his ex-wife’s middle name, and the name of a pathological liar he once dated.

    One of my favorites for a boy is Vladimir.. but since we’re not Slavic, any time I’ve mentioned this name to people they’ve looked at me like I’m crazy.

  128. You know, I’d be pretty inclined to think of Rowan as an unusual name, but I know a Rowan, a Rowin, and a Rowena! Well, I don’t really KNOW Rowena; she’s a baby.

  129. I dig the old fashioned names, but I’m also a fan of the gender non-specific.
    I have a 2 year old daughter named Elliot
    (my husband was adamant that this not be a name for a girl, after 26 hours of labour I could have called her Tutu and he probably would have gone for it)

    My next child girl or boy is Cooper Julien/Julienne (masc/fam, you get it).

    I’m surprised at the number of Olivias in the world now…

  130. Names I adore, even though I do not plan to have children to inflict them upon:

    Girls:
    Zoey (must have the Y)
    Samara (could call her Sam and yeah, yeah, I never saw The Ring. Just like the name.)
    Jayne (must have the Y)
    Zan (or Zanne, can’t decide on the spelling)
    Amalia (NOT Amelia — could call her Mali)
    Molly (or spelled Mali, either one)
    Keir (NOT Keira/Kira/Kyra)

    Boys:
    Aaron
    Scott
    Eben
    Kerr (love it!)
    Malachi (I know, I know. He’d kill me, but I loves it.)

    Either:
    Briar (family name that I just loves)

  131. Yeah, FJ, I don’t think Rowan will be unusual for long. Fits in too nicely with the Tegans and Logans and other Blank-ans, plus, to whatever extent Brooke Shields has an affect on pop culture, there IS at least one celebrity baby with the name.

    Rowena, however, is a nice one that might just fit my criteria. I could see it catching on in the next few years, but not really taking off.

    I’m also starting to wonder if Ramona (which I don’t like as much) is due for a comeback. I figure the Beverly Cleary books either ruined it forever or will inspire a new generation of Ramonas; tough to say which. (Let us not forget that her sister Beezus was Beatrice — and from the looks of this thread, I now definitely think that one’s about to go perfectly normal again. I know the Ramona books are the first place I ever heard the name, so…)

  132. Like you Kate, I am also fascinated with names and have been since I was a kid. I had baby name books by the truck load long before I ever thought about having kids.

    My name is Nadene (like Nadine). But Americans all say it like Nay-deen whereas here in Australia it is said N’deen. I dont particularly like it and I often think of changing it. My middle name is Louise. I have never really liked Louise but it goes with just about every first name you can think of. When I had my daughter I thought about naming her after my mum (who is deceased) but I could not call my daughter Sandra. I just couldnt do it. So she is Ruby Cathren. And I sometimes call her Ruby Cate (Kate). There is that Kate again! lol. The only other name we could agree on was Lily and there were too many Lily’s around. Of course now there are too many Ruby’s as well! My son has an unusual name, Baydn (Bay-den). Usually it is spelt Baden but I changed it (obviously). There are a few Baden’s about but not a lot.

    My favorite names would be Ruby, Lily, Bree, Briony, Jasmin, Cathren, Emma, Zoey… there would be more but I cant think of them of the top of my head!

    Names I can’t stand would be Gretel, Jenny, Janelle, Marlo, Vicky, Doreen, Joyce, Pat, Sharon, Joy, Frances, Pamela, Teneille, Susan, Fiona and I could go on and on…

    I love diminuitives or nicknames. My kids are Roo and Bay because of this!

  133. Bri (as in rhyming with fry not with free) isnt my birth name but it is the name I choose to use whenever I can. Nabriya is the full version. I get called Briah/Briar as well.

    I dont like my birth name. Never have.

    One thing I have noticed is that knowing someone with a particular name really colors what you think of that name. So most of the names I dont like are because I know someone with that name that I dont like!

    I like Rowan as a girl’s name but not for a boy. Rowena is uncommon here. Not unheard of but uncommon. The youngest Rowena I know is nearly 30.

    Names I dont like are Cheryl, Beryl, Sharon, Kylie, Jude/Judith, Fiona, Donna, Pat/Patty/Patricia, Tania/Tanya, Angela, Susan/Suzanne, Annette, Tracey, Karen, Debbie, Mary, Melissa, Jean, Joanne, Dianne, Louise, Leanne, Paula, Julie, Kerrie, Jackie, Christine.

    Names I do like are Emma, Julia, Anna, Jade, Lily, Alicia, Catherine, Cate, Jasmine, Lara, Tara, Ruby, Zoe, Naomi, Meredith, Raine.

  134. One of my buddies is a Ramona and everyone calls her Pomona. ;o)

    My DD is Danica, after one of my European grandmothers. I pronounce it to rhyme with Monica. We would probably not have any issues with this name except for that racecar driver, Ms. Patrick. LOL So now my kindergarten girl has to tell everyone that her name is only SPELLED like the racecar driver’s name. Her new school friend is named Shaloka. So, I no longer feel like the name we went with is so “out there”.

  135. My brother an sister-in-law named their daughter Klara and everytime I think of the name, I think of a cow.

    Hah! I have a cat named Clara(belle), who is cow-printed.

    Unfortunately, I’d like to name a daughter Claire, after a great-aunt of mine, but I don’t know if I can do that now. Another name I like is Eleanor, shortened to Ella, but . . . guess what my other cat is named. (I didn’t name them — they came with the boyfriend.) I’d also like Caroline shortened to Caro, since no one in America is called that. We’ll see. May be a problem with the projected last name, which starts with a K.

    Unusual names in my family: Desneiges (duh-NAYZH, because they’re Quebecois and pronounce things oddly), Sarazine (sah-rah-ZEEN), Loris (boy, called Lorey).

    Whereas my name, Stephanie, was, oh, ONLY one of the most popular girls’ names in the 80s (thank you, Hart to Hart) . . . when I was in a dorm, there were six of us living on two floors (appx. 50 people, of which 35 were girls). I am incredibly bothered by ‘misspellings’ of Stephanie, such as Stephenie, Steffany, and (GACK) Stefani.

    Also, my mom and her three siblings were named things you can’t nickname: Bruce, Lynn, Karen, Keith. None of them have nicknames. Therefore I got the long, flowery, wonderfully nickname-able name.

  136. I’m another Lisa Marie! In elementary school in the 70s/80s, there were always at least three other Lisas, but now I rarely meet one. I suspect it was more popular in the midwest (since it’s common to a number of Eastern European naming traditions) than it is in the coastal cities I’ve lived in since.

    I’ve never really liked my name, but it does kind of fit me and it’s nice that it translates fairly well to other languages. I lived for a while in Italy and got to become “Lisa Maria.”

    For children, I’ve always been totally completely in love with ridiculously over-the-top Italian girls’ names, with “Maddelena” topping the list. (My name was actually almost Maggie, for my great-grandmother Magdelena. I love both those names, and really wish I had gotten one of them instead.) I also love Sofia (though I know it’s overused at this point) and Chiara and Claudia.

    But my last name is very germanic-sounding, and I figured those names would never work, plus I never wanted kids anyway.

    Until… I met my current boyfriend, who’s dying for kids, and I’m on the verge of changing my mind about it when I realize that the boyfriend’s got a lovely Italian last name! That would go with all my dreamed-for girls’ names! Woo!

    I tend to like fairly simple traditional boys’ names, which would actually be ok with my last name, so I’m trying to work toward a “Girls get your name, boys get mine” plan with him.

  137. Also, my mom and her three siblings were named things you can’t nickname: Bruce, Lynn, Karen, Keith. None of them have nicknames. Therefore I got the long, flowery, wonderfully nickname-able name.

    Ha! I got the opposite part of the cycle. My mother (Janet) always hated being called “Jan,” so she gave my brother and me names that could not be shortened.

    I don’t mind shortened forms of names, but I do have trouble with using nicknames only occasionally. I always ask what people prefer to be called, and stick to it; I can’t switch between “Mike” and “Michael,” for instance, because I feel like those should be two different people.

  138. 1985: I was going to name my imaginary daughter Sussudio. I swear to god.

    Good thing it wasn’t 1965 instead. Then it would have been “Sloopy.”

    I kind of like Shayna (Hebrew for “beautiful,” although I’m sure I’m Anglicizing the spelling so those who are pronunciation challenged won’t mispronounce it). And Bronwen. (Bronwyn would be OK, but that’s actually considered traditionally the male spelling.) I will draw the line at “Audio Science” or anything else that’s going to be instant bully bait for a kid (although as others have noted, you can rag on any name if you want to). But I’d also rather I didn’t call out “Madison,” or whatever, in the supermarket and have 20 little girls turn around.

    Arthur, yeah, love it. I also like Tristan, so sue me. My brother is an Ian, and in the U.S. that was so far ahead of its time he was constantly called “EYE-an” and “Ann.” But now it’s starting to get played out.

    I actually liked Brooklyn as a name before it was done to death. That’s where I was born, doncha know. If they’d left it solely to New Yorkers, maybe it wouldn’t have been a problem.

  139. We decided to go with classic Anglo names for our half-El Salvadoran (husband) /Half-mutt (me) kids . Our reasoning behind that is that people seem to have a REALLY hard time prounouncing our last name unless they speak Spanish. We have a Richard Alexander (Alex) and a Joseph Taylor (Taylor). The boys were sort of named after their dad because we took his first and middle names and used the Anglo version.

    I’m pregnant with #3, a girl, and I would have LOVED to name her Xiomara (sho-MAR-a. It’s a Spanish name.) but: 1- it’s hard to pronounce and 2-it’d be weird to have a Spanish name when our other kids have Anglo names. We’ve decided on Lynda Katherine, and we’ll call her Katie. Lynda was my mom’s name.

    We also have a middle-name quirk in our little family in that we ALL go by our middle names. When we named our first, we knew we wanted to call him Alex, but Alexander doesn’t flow well as a first name. By the time #2 came around, we knew we had a Quirky Thing going, and we liked it, so we had to keep going with the middle names.

  140. I’m the only nice Jessica I know. ;-) Actually, with all the Jessicas I’ve known, there have been nice, mean, flirty, smart, sexy, coy, short, tall, thin, fat, and anything else you can make into an adjective, Jessicas.

    No matter how many times it happens, I always look in stores when I hear my name. And it still happens, even with small children.

    I also won’t let people call me Jessie. Jess is fine, but Jessie is someone else’s name–not mine.

    I think the true value of a name is what you make it–your parents can choose a name as carefully as they like, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t end up bullied, or being a bully. It might have something to do with it, but it’s not the deciding factor. I was mocked for my last name (an animal), and HATED it for years–but when I accepted the humor in the situation, I learned that really, other people didn’t care as much as I did. And now I love my last name.

    As far as my naming choices go–they’ve changed a lot over the years. I used to like the name Catherine, and then I thought that was unbearably pretentious, and now I like it again. But I also have the horrible desire to make up really high-fantasy-esque names and use those. (I shall try to limit myself to middle names if I must use really unusual names, though).

  141. I’m one of the ’70s Jennifers. I hated my name for a long time (because of course there were always so many others and because it sounded weird to my ear, not like a “girl’s name,” but now I like it, especially after learning the “Guinevere” derivation).

    For the past several years I have thought that I would like to name a daughter after my grandma, Ruth, but my classy-kid-name-choosing sister-in-law (damn her reasonableness!) already gave that to her daughter as a middle name, so I’m not sure if it would be seen as copying.

    Recently Helen has also become a frontrunner, after my husband’s very sweet great-aunt. I have been trying to turn my husband toward Scandinavian names (I’m of Swedish and Norwegian descent… I named my cats Saima, which was the name of a relative of someone I knew and which I was told was Finnish, and Freya) but the only one he has warmed to is “Kirsten,” which 1) may not actually be Scandinavian, I’m not sure; and 2) strikes me as a little too blah for some reason (and a little too much like people would think I was spelling Kristin krea8tively). I would prefer Astrid.

    I don’t have too many ideas for boys’ names; I really like my husband’s grandpa’s name, Stanley, and I recently realized I like my grandpa’s name, Harold. I wouldn’t call him Harry but I think the name would be considered accessible due to Harry Potter, and if others called him Harry I could deal. Unfortunately when I pointed this out to my husband, he reminded me (and I swear this is true) that this is the same name as one of his relatives who was reprimanded by the township for pretending to be Amish (and dressing his kids up in “Amish” clothing) as a marketing gimmick to help sales at his farm stand.

    My husband’s cousin and his wife (who I really like in general) have given their 4 kids all names starting with “H.” The first 2 were good names (well, you know, in my all-important opinion), but the second 2 both peripherally have to do with guns. I’m not sure if they caught this association or if it means anything. We joke that if they have another one, they should name it “Handgun” or “Homeland Security.”

  142. To clarify, the guy’s given name is Harold and when this story about him is told, they make fun of him by calling him “Amish Harry.” So I’m screwed on both counts. :)

  143. I’ve always been fascinated by this subject as well as the other 160+ posters above me. Mine stems from having a not terribly unusual name per se, but from having it spelled oddly. And while I always jokingly laugh off my crazy hippie parents who saddled me with the weird spelling, I also know that it helped shape who I became. Long ago I had to decide whether or not I was going to stand up to teachers and tell them the correct way to say my name or sit quietly and be known by the wrong name. It was empowering for me, but could have easily led me to belittled.

    My name is pronounced Elise, not Alice… fyi.

    My husband and I chose a name for our first kid (not pregnant, have PCOS, pipe dream baby) years ago. But I see that name coming into vogue, so I probably won’t select it. Frustrating. Oh well.

  144. One of my aunts has 3 daughters, all with names starting with “A.” The first two were a coincidence, but when baby #3 was on the way, they figured he or she would feel left out with name that started with a different letter.

    My husband and I are happily child-free, but we STILL have the “baby name discussion” once in a while. A boy would be John Talbot (IV, if we were feeling especially pretentious — my husband does use his III designation). My dad was also named John, so I’m OK with it. We’d probably call him Jack or JT, though.

    Most of the girl names I like start with M (Margaret, for my mom and her mom, Madeleine, even if it IS popular, and Meredith), but our last name starts with M and I don’t like the alliteration. Since both of our names start with “J” — and my husband’s parents both had “J” names — we’ve got Jillian, Jocelyn and Josephine. Another name I like, if we went in a totally different direction, is Veronica. I’d try to use “Nica” (knee-kah) as a nickname instead of the obvious Ronnie.

    I always joke about the “Chief Justice” test. If a name can’t fit into “Chief Justice (insert prospective first name here) LastName,” then it’s a no-go for me. Gee, my imaginary kids would have an awful lot to live up to!

  145. I don’t have a middle name and it has made me sad my entire life. My parents arranged it that way because a) they figured Marianne was long enough and b) they wanted me to be able to keep my last name when I got married – nice bunch of assumption from the late 70s there, eh? *grin*

    I really, really want a middle name!

  146. I had a great-grandfather who fought in World War 1. His name was Reason. I like it. Would it be crazy of me to name a potential future son that?

    I like the name Ruby, but from this thread I see it’s gaining in popularity. It was my maternal grandmother’s name, and considering I’m Crystal I guess at least there’s a connection for me. But, my grandma was also bat-shit crazy, so, perhaps not.

    My husband and I both like Dante a lot. I’ve been trying to convince him that Sebastian or Miles are good boy names.

    I hate my own name. I feel totally disassociated with it. I prefer my sister’s nickname for me, Dirse. It’s what my brother called me when he was really little and couldn’t say Crystal.

  147. Pingback: The Rotund » Names

  148. The timing of this post blows my mind! After many years without indulging my own obsession with names and their origins and histories and popularity, I just started doing some snopping again Friday night, at the request of my knocked up sister who’s looking for something interesting and unique, but not, er, crazy.

    Her current top-runner for a girl is Noa, which I think is a little odd, but sounds kind of nice after a few repeats. Her top boy name is Danik, which I am not loving (just too damn trendy with all the pseudo-Celtic boy names out there!). Personally, my taste runs to the gender-neutral names – Edison, Graham, Revelin, Cuyler, that kind of thing.

    My own bitter name story: my folks saddle me with Tari (which I hated most of my life but now enjoy), but then let my brother and sister off the hook with Paul and Jennifer. Apparently I broke them of their free-spirit-hippie-ness?

  149. I forgot one other “old-fashioned” sort of name that I like–Nora. (“Noa” as posted above, which I do like, reminded me of that; Danik is pretty cool too. I guess what I’m saying is I like your sister’s taste in names, Tari. :) I also love Crystal’s nickname, “Dirse.” It may have been an accident of pronunciation but it could be a very cool-sounding name in its own right!)

    Anyway, I have wanted to name a daughter Nora for many years now. And did I get it from any kind of noble impulse to express pride in my background, or desire to honor a beloved relative?

    No. I got it from a Sweet Valley Twins book. Such is life.

    I also like Noel for a girl. I had forgotten about some of these until this thread came up! For someone who may or may not want kids, I sure have apparently put a lot of thought into this.

    Do you guys think there are regional differences in how freely nicknames are used? I was called Jenny all my life by my parents and friends until I moved to the Southeast. When I got there, nobody would call me Jenny because there was already a Jenny, and her name was like set in stone. It would have sounded very unusual for anyone to call her Jennifer, and I remember once when a friend of mine called and my mom yelled “Jenny!” to get me to come to the phone, he thought that was so weird that she would call me that because my name was Jennifer. Back up North, I had switched from Jennifer to Jenny to Jen (and let’s not speak of the ’70s-’80s experiments with Jenni and Jennie) at will.

    It’s not so much that I got the impression that nicknames were frowned upon where I moved to; it was more that you either had one or you didn’t, and once it was established, it was hard to get people to vary it.

  150. All y’all have such good taste in names! I love Ella, Caro for Caroline, and I think Rowan is gorgeous for a boy–he sounds kind of dark and soulful, with hair he has to flip out of his eyes. A friend’s son is named Riley, which I also really like. And apropos of nothing I knew a Kathryn in high school who went by Ryn, which I thought was so bad-ass that I named a character in a story after her once.

    My mom was named Stephanie after her father (she never met another one until the eighties when my friends started showing up with it, much to her chagrin) and my sister’s middle name is Maureen after my dad’s given name. I’m not planning to have children but I think that’s a kind of nice tradition…I wonder how you could do it the other way, giving boys a derivative of their moms’ names? I guess last names could be given as middle? What’s a masculine derivative of Jennifer or Lisa?

    Also! I have always had a secret thought that I need to date someone with a really awesome first name that kind of goes with my own, something that really flows when we’re introduced. Obviously I can’t date an Italian (we’re good-looking but we’re crazy) so yummy things like Paolo and Marco and Alessandro are right out. Sigh.

  151. Sigh. A former friend and his girlfriend just recently named their child Pthalo. As in the color.

    Yes, my first response upon hearing it from a friend was, “Why do they hate that baby?”

    The mother’s name is Teal, and she wanted to name the baby after her, but not, apparently. You’d think growing up with a name like that, she’d know better. Or maybe Teal just wasn’t weird enough.

  152. Oh. My god.

    Phthalo isn’t even a color. It’s a chemical compound, phthalocyanine. They might as well name the kid “dioxazine” or “naphthol.”

    “Alizarine” would be kind of okay, though, honestly.

  153. I mean, I wouldn’t name a kid Alizarine. But I also wouldn’t physically maim someone who did it. “Ali” is adorable.

  154. Do you guys think there are regional differences in how freely nicknames are used? … it was more that you either had one or you didn’t, and once it was established, it was hard to get people to vary it.

    That’s interesting… I definitely have that feeling, as I mentioned, and I went to high school in Atlanta, so I wonder if that’s what did it for me.

    I could see it being an issue in the South because it seems like there were more juniors and III’s there, so that the father would have one version of the name and the son would have to go by another (so, for instance, the father was Edward and the son was Ed), which would solidify the nicknames to each person.

    What’s a masculine derivative of Jennifer or Lisa?

    Jonathan? Lysander?

  155. occhiblu… that is so interesting! I had forgotten about your prior Michael/Mike comment. Maybe I’m not just totally making up this phenomenon.

    Because I am weird, I feel the need to clarify my prior comment; I had basically been called Jenny “all my life” by my parents and friends as I said (which would seem to give the lie to my idea that nicknames are more fluid up North), but during the times when I did decide I wanted to be Jennifer or Jen, nobody really seemed to find it odd. Whereas down South I was always Jennifer. So you see, what I said really wasn’t inconsistent! I swear! :)

  156. “‘Alizarine’ would be kind of okay, though, honestly”

    I can see that turning into Alize’ really easily.

    I did know someone that was named Blue once. It’s a really hippy name, but it worked for some reason. I also know someone who named their daughter Isabella Never. They called her Never. Really? Never? Never ever? Ooohh-kay.

  157. My parents had some friends in college with the last name of Blue. They named their kid Gray.

    In all other contexts, I think Gray is an excellent unisex name. But oy.

  158. I hate nicknames :) Sorry, but I do. But that’s because I’ve been called Suzy by my family most of my life and people want to shorten my name to Sue, which I. Hate. With. A. Passion. How hard a name is Suzan? I mean, really. Use the whole name or, if you must shorten it, go with Zan. See? Easy. Bah.

    Anyway, I also like the name Alice. It was my great grandmother’s name and she was an awesome woman. She died a few years ago at 94, but every summer she and my grandmother and a bunch of other crazy old women would get in the minivan, pull out the map and randomly decide where they were going for the next month. Just awesome. I’d love to have a daughter with that kind of spirit. I also really love Nora and Dora too. Plus, mmm, Zera and Rowen.

    Of course, I’m going to be childless, so this all goes into my writing….

  159. What’s a masculine derivative of Jennifer or Lisa?

    Jennifer = Jensen, like (super hottie) Jensen Ackles. I always wonder, though, do his friends call him “Jen” and did that get him teased?

  160. It seems like all the names I like sound really girly, like the name Giselle. I *love* that name, but it’s so frilly; like it leaves no room for a hypothetical girl to be a tomboy if she wants to.

    I also like the name Moira, which is less overtly-fluffy. Moira Elizabeth.

    It’s sad that the only reason I could possibly want a kid is to pick out a name. I do this on the Sims all the time: make great people, give them awesome names, and then get tired of them.

    Maybe a cat would respond well to being called Moira Elizabeth?

  161. Personally, I’m in love with the name Adrienne. Or Adrian, for a boy. And Erin/Aaron. And Maxine or Maxwell. ^_^;

    Oh. I’m a Katie. Yes, that’s KATE-ee not Kady, but I gave up on getting people to pronounce it properly when I was in high school. Sigh.

  162. My dad’s brother is named Stacy. People always gave me weird looks when I mentioned “Uncle Stacy”, but I didn’t know until I was 7 or 8 and started reading the Babysitter’s Club books that Stac(e)y is generally considered a female name.

    Since then, I’ve always wondered what happens that makes a sorta uncommon boy’s name become a fairly common girl’s name.For instance, check out the Name Voyager graphs for Stac(e)y, Ashley, Carol, Allison, and Leslie. On the left of the chart, it’s a teeny blue section, but as it gets closer to the right, it becomes a big pink section. Chances are, if you know anyone with any of those names, it’s a woman… am I right?

  163. Giselle is my middle name! I really like it, although I know that some people hate it. That’s OK. I was a complete tomboy growing up (and now too, I guess) but never felt there was any conflict with “Giselle.” In fact I almost started using it when I switched schools once. One of my grandparents used to call me “Gigi,” and I loved it.

    Incidentally, if anyone is thinking of using Giselle, people seem to mix it up with “gazelle” in the US. Not the worst mix up, but something to be aware of.

    Stacy: Stacy Keach! I really like the name Kelly for a man (but not particularly for a woman) – first time I heard it was Robert Culp’s character in “I Spy.” Still, I would never name a boy “Kelly” – why make things hard for the kid? I have to admit, I love most “girl” names on men – it’s the genderbending thing, I think.

  164. When I divorced almost 38 years ago – I changed my name from Kathi to Kate (tho’ really I’m a Kathryn). I always hated the diminutive name that made me feel I was named for a cheerleader. (No offense to cheerleaders – it wasn’t my destiny or desire.)

    On the other hand I kept my married last name because I didn’t ever like my maiden name.

    I really like Kate and I’m pleased there are so many. It is a sisterhood of sorts for me.

  165. Long-time lurker, first time poster because I’m SO in on the name-game-love. I’m 19 years old, so children would cramp my style. However, I’ve always imagened what my imagenary children would be named. For a while, I’ve liked the name Lina because it’s the name of my favorite anime character Lina Inverse(yes, I’m a dork).For a boy, I’d choose Zachary. Very bland, of course, but not too too common. I prefer to play with names for the characters in the stories I write.I use old-timey names that are full of character (or at least in my own mind). However, in this arena I head for names that start with letters that sound a bit “off” (Nero, Judy, Lola,Sylvia, Nell, Penelope).And since I’m into anime and al that jazz, I have double the fun with Japanese names. I love the name Haruhi because all the cool characters in seris I watch have that name (Haruhi Suzumia and haruhi Fujioka). Pardon my badly-spelt rambelings, but I’m quite passionate about names.

    P.S-My name is Elizabeth: The Name With A Thousand Nicknames. if I had it my way, I’d be called Eli Zabeth of Bazil (my name spelled backwords is htebazile), but it’s always Liz or Betsy from family (My mum wanted to name me after a super-fab designer who does cartwheels at shows…guess who!)

  166. You described me. I am always picking up new names for my “list”. Which is ridiculous because I am childless and the end of my thirties are approaching. Plus I am from Utah, so all my cousins and siblings have snapped up many of the good ones! (snaps on the Utah Baby namer – I added several hilarious family names)

    I love the name Louisa, it reminds me of the girl from the Sound of Music movie (you know, the “I am sixteen, going on seventeen” one) which I loved.

    Thanks, I killed about 4 hours playing with the damn Baby Name Wizard. I couldn’t stop. So much fun.

  167. I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if this has been brought up but my least favorite names are Dakota/Cody etc. I’m old enough to remember when Melanie Griffith had a kid who was named after some place in the Western US.

    The naming trend seems to have quickly descended the class ladder because it is now very common among lower classes in the area where I live (Nothern Applachia). There was a time when you could call out the names “Dakota” or “Cody” in any McDonalds and get at least one child’s attention.

    Personally I prefer classic names that aren’t too trendy. It runs the risk of being common though. One of my kids has a classmate of the same name. They are known as “Firstname Lastname”. They even adress each other that way. They don’t do “Firstname Last Initial” because the letters sound a bit alike.

  168. I love the name Louisa, it reminds me of the girl from the Sound of Music movie (you know, the “I am sixteen, going on seventeen” one) which I loved.

    As if I haven’t proven myself quite nerd enough on this thread, I must point out that it was Liesl, not Louisa, who did “16 Going on 17.” Louisa was the slightly younger blonde who grew up to marry Robert Urich.

    Liesl’s pretty, too, but I think you need a German last name to pull it off.

  169. Okay, I am still thinking about male derivatives of female names and vice versa, so does anyone know what she or he would have been named had she or he been the opposite sex?

    I? Would have been, according to family lore, named Cesare (pronounced CHEH-sah-ray). Which is Italian for Caesar, which is obviously a great name for a little boy–not as great, though, as the common nickname Cesarino, which means, of course, Little Caesar. AUGH.

  170. I’m probably late on this but…

    My favorite name is Tovah. It’s Hebrew and means goodness.

    It reminds me of a great lady I knew when I was younger and I think it’s unique but not too weird. Although, I don’t know any little girls named Tovah. Hmmmm…

    I HATE Jennifer, Tara, Riley, Hannah, Madison. But only because I know mean people with that name! Ha!

    My name is SO common now. Oh well!

  171. not as great, though, as the common nickname Cesarino, which means, of course, Little Caesar. AUGH.

    I thought Caesarion meant “Little Caesar”… (woot! dorkage!)

  172. Deborah, Arthur is an awesome name. Not only is it both unusual and easy to spell/pronounce, but it’s the only Arthurian name that you can give a kid without being cruel.

    We used to call him the Once and Future Baby. The birth announcements said: “Arthur…King of the Babies.”

    Yes, absolutely it is my love of all things Arthurian that inspired the name.

  173. HOLY CRAP, would you please accompany me to a chapel right now so we can GET MARRIED? One of my readers sent me a link to this post because I love baby names and have recently posted on both Beatrix and Millicent. Millicent is my favorite. And since those two names sound all fresh-’n’-awesome to me, I’m assuming I’m not alone and they’ll be big in the near future–even though a lot of people THINK they hate them. They’ll change their minds. Oh yes. They’ll change them. And by then I’ll have moved on like a honeybee, alighting on god knows what. Hortense?

  174. I worked in a summer day camp this past summer and the most popular boys names were Nicholas/Nicolas, Mason, Jaxson/Jackson, Christopher (not to be shortened to Chris), Cole, Keaton, Reegan, and Keegan. Lots of girls named Cassidy and Jessica. MacKenzie/Macynzie was popular with both sexes. The only truly original names I can think of were Eden and Rozander.
    Being named Galen (a boy’s name even though I’m a GIRL), which is pronounced Gail-in not Gay-lynn thank you very much, I hated my name until I was 15 and after that I loved being unique. I’m almost 26 and to this day I’ve only ever met one other person (a boy!) in real life with the same name as me. Of course, Galen Weston is on TV all the time now with his President’s Choice commercials, there was a character named Galen on Star Trek once, and my cousin knew a Galen in elementary school. I know there are others out there, but it’s not currently in the top 1000 and appears to be losing popularity.
    So now I want my future children to have unique names like me too. My husband thinks they should have hockey player names, even if they are girls, like Jerome or Wayne [insert eye roll here]. I keep joking about giving them wrestler names like Thor or Hammer.

  175. My given name is Rebecca and, despite my SN, I am not fond of nicknames. People who call me Becca are related to me or might as well be. I answer to Becky the first time someone uses it, and I correct them. I will not respond to it after that.

    I had two boys (not twins) and named them Morgan and Duncan. It’s rather hard to shorten those names, which was a definite consideration. I gave them traditional middle names that are also family names, in case they find their “unusual” names a burden at any time.

    If we’d had a girl, we were going to name her Elena. While my baby-making days are done (no, really), I do wish I could have had a little Elena. It would go so well with my middle name, which as family tradition would be given to a daughter (not always the first one, it’s mom’s choice). I have to settle for hoping one of my boys will (a) have children and (b) think it’s a pretty name.

  176. I am a Rebecca also and what I go by (my friends and family call me Becky, which I don’t mind) but it is my middle name. I HATE my first name…Nancy. I think it is hideous! When I signed my driver’s license, the man asked me to sign 1st name, middle initial, last name. I asked if I could sign it 1st initial, middle name, last name and he said sure. So I have avoided using anything other than “N. Rebecca” except for tax returns. Thankfully!

    I gave both of my daughters what I thought were old fashioned names, not realizing how popular they were at the time. Sarah Marie and Emily Danielle. Although there is not another Emily in her entire school and only 2 other Sarah’s in her class.

    My best friend’s step daughter is named “Tapanga” from the TV show “Boy Meets World” and her sister is named “Jera” after their father (Jerry) and I haven’t found any Jera’s ever so it seems to be keeping it’s “unique” status. LOL

  177. I’m a Grace born in the 80s. According to Name Voyager (I love you for linking to that!) it was only 226 back then, and I almost never meet other Graces my age. I’m so upset that it’s about to do a trashy Brittany thing. I’m going to have to carefully avoid trashy teenagers for the next twenty or forty years.

    Hillary is an interesting one. It’s my sister’s name, and she was also born in the 80s when it was at the peak of its popularity (she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, btw). Of course, it dropped off the map entirely circa 1992, but it now seems to be making a comeback. If I were a parent I’d wait to see what HRC’s legacy will be like before naming a child that.

  178. So Kate, can you imagine the depths of my desolation to discover that at NO TIME EVER has my name ever been in a the top 1000 names for girls. I am so forlorn that I cannot bring myself to tell you what my name is.

    My grandmothers were Grace and Elsie, and I think Elsie is cute in a Maggie kind of way, although it sounds like a girl who never puts out. Grace always sounds like an upright churchgoing type to me – but then that was Elsie LOL.

  179. Coming into this waaay late, but “Micheal” is the Irish version of “Michael,” I believe. It’s pronounced differently (mee-hort, I think). Though I’d bet that most parents in the US who named their kids “Micheal” were just making an error.

    I’m a Candice, and I’ve always HATED the nickname Candy. Cand is okay. Dicey is allowable, if you really must. But Candy…no. Just no. I’m a person, not a sugary snack. Neither of my parents are wild about the nickname either, but they both liked the full name so much that they decided to use it anyway.

    My favorite girl names: Jane, Lydia, Ramona, Sylvia, Lucille, Anastasia
    Favorite boy names: Glenn (everyone I know says this is hideous and reminds them of a middle aged guy, but I don’t care), Arthur, Malcolm…I know there are more boy names that I like, but I can’t think of them right now.

    I am sad that Dylan is so popular, because I’ve always liked it. Same with Eleanor for a girl. Not that I plan to have children anytime soon. I just have a weird fascination with names.

  180. Coming in even later… But I can’t leave this topic untouched, especially since my cousin, sister, and best friend are all having babies this year. We have spent an insane amount of time talking names. My sister is due next month, and it looks like they’re going with Charlotte for the first name, middle name yet to be determined. Since my sister has the longest name in the world (Elizabeth Margaret), she’s determined to find a cute short middle name.

    My own name is Jannette (after one great-grandmother, who was named for her aunts Jan + Nettie), and it is so frequently either misspelled or mispronounced, even when I try to explain that it’s just like Annette plus a J. Also, since everyone else born in 1975 was named Jennifer, I’ve learned to answer to just about any J-name.

    But my middle name takes the cake: Zarouhe, for another great-grandmother. It’s a creatively-romanized version of the Armenian name for Sarah– normally spelled Zarouhi in English. It was a heavy name to carry around when I was a kid, since 1) I grew up in Minnesota, where there are 2 other Armenian families, 2) Armenia was not a country at the time, and 3) how do you pronounce that?

    And to make it even more glommed-together-sounding, my last name is a Scandinavian Anderson/Larson/Peterson name– more common than “Smith” in the Upper Midwest.

    I have a 13-yr-old cousin named Muriel and a 21-yr-old cousin named Elspeth, nickname Elsie.

    My cousin (Angie, after the Rolling Stones song)’s new daughter is Nadiya Symone, which I can only describe as “Prince-y.” However, the Nadiya part does work ok with her Persian dad’s last name.

  181. I have to say I found this fascinating. I plan on having a whole passel of kids someday, but in the meantime I’ve been playing with baby name books since I was eight naming characters in my novels.

    My name is Lydia. No middle name (the bane of my existence as a child). NO ONE was named Lydia when I was in school. The closest thing was when I met a kid at the pool named Olivia. Its still not super popular but I have heard people calling their kids in public, so its making somewhat of a comeback.

    As much as I hated having an unusual name as a kid because I desperately wanted everything I owned to have my name printed on it like all my friends, when I hit my teens I decided I love it. I’m not like everyone else, and I got to have an uncommon name.

    No one in my family has used super common names (in the past 10 years or so, the new generation, I have three uncle davids and two cousin davids). My sister’s son’s name is Callen and my cousin’s two kids are Luna and Zhoe. (okay, Zhoe’s fairly normal but you gotta love the funky spelling. I love odd spellings of common names. My kids are gonna hate me)

    But my mom really wanted to name me Winter. Which I don’t hate. (in fact my pen name should I ever be published is Lydia Winters) I like Winter, Spring and Autumn as names, but not Summer. Probably because the only Summer I know is a stereotypical California blonde who is perky as hell. And nice. You gotta hate her.

  182. I really didn’t need to find that site. I’ve spent 30 minutes just looking up my relatives names onthe Baby Name Wizard NameVoyager, with no end in sight.

    I had no idea my own name (Jocelyn) was so popular. Certainly wasn’t when I got it. My mother was a ‘no nickname’ mom for sure, and it took until high school for kids to start calling me Jo-Jo, which went to Jo shortly thereafter, and stuck.

    These days, I like names to mean something positive + non-male derivitive for girls. Like Clara, maybe? Now I’m off on an etymology search.

    AND: One of my cousins was named with the ‘nickname version’ — Abby. So I call her Babs for good measure. ^^ Any name can be nicknamed — if you play with the sounds long enough.

  183. Pingback: How Much Can I Influence People Who Take My Free Stuff? « Ask The Blondes

  184. I’m waiting for my name (Elmo) to become popular again. And I don’t mean just for Sesame Street characters…..lol.

  185. My maternal ancestry is Norwegian, and my mother was vehement that my sister and I name a daughter each from our great great aunts, Marit and Sigrid. Guess which one was the odd name out when we would “call” names? hahaha

  186. We’re so lucky. Our girls got their great-aunt’s names, one from each side: Claire and Julia. Julia is mostly Jules – another very Australian shortening. Claire was actually a compromise after their Dad vetoed every Jane Austen name I could think of. Claire Tomalin wrote my favourite Austen biography. Ha! I win. Julia only got through because he hasn’t read Mansfield Park :)

    They’re short and classic enough to be easy to spell but unfashionable enough that we haven’t run into any others. By contrast, we know three Avas, an Ayva, an Ada, an Avi and an Ivy, three Milos and two Mileses, two Rubies, two Jacksons, two Dexters, a Dahlia, a Tahlia and a Delilah, a Nora, a Nola and a Lola, a Rowan and a Roan. Can you guess we’re in San Francisco?

    I ran into toddler Theodore and Agatha at a cafe the other day, and was wholly charmed. There’s a Beckett and Cooper sibling set near us as well. Claire went to a summer camp in Marin and made friends with Isabella, Jessica, Olivia and Vivienne. I decided it was Golden Age Hollywood up there.

    I do think farming our grandparents’ generation is a sound strategy. In my case this yields the not-yet-overplayed Doris, Elsie, Jean, Joan, Ruth and Thelma. I admit Mascha and Thusnelda would be a harder sell outside their native Austria, although Thusnelda goes by Nelly.

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