Ponder this:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

21 Names for Your New Baby

Popularity Trend
for Holden
from 1900 to 2009

In the last ten years, only one couple I know has named their son something a little off the beaten track of first names. They named their first born Holden. Refreshing, to hear something other than Michael, Matthew, Zachary, Jeremy, or Sean.  Apparently, though, Holden is on the upswing in popularity.  
Bad news.

I'm tired of the same old names.
In memory, it seems as if every girl in my elementary school years had one of five names: Karen, Barbara, Debbie, Patricia or Linda. Those seem to have gone mildly out of fashion, but they're old standards.  I challenge you to find any group of fifteen females under the age of twenty-five containing fewer than four Jennifers, three Kaylas, and five Amandas. (It seems, may all the saints be praised, that Heather, at long last, has passed from popularity.)


I'm not so much in favor of completely off-the-wall names, either.
I know a woman who was named after a character on a soap opera.  Spicy name, American as apple pie, or French toast, or bread pudding, but odd. Husband thinks it sounds like a  stripper's stage name. It is my belief that a person ought not to be named after a fictional television character.
I worked with a young man who named his child a made up sound that he and his significant other liked. To me, the name sounded like a conglomeration of the name of a racetrack in Florida, Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald's given name, and a primitive percussion instrument.  I wondered how the child would ever get through school without correcting, a hundred times a day, the pronunciation, never mind the spelling, of her appellation. Or maybe it wouldn't matter to her. Maybe she'd continue her parents' laissez-faire attitude and let people pronounce and spell her name however they could. How would she know to what sound she should respond?


I haven't recently looked at those little "100 Names for Your Baby" books displayed for sale next to the supermarket checkout, and I wonder what they're suggesting now. I daresay that whatever's in those books, we'll be seeing a lot of in the next few years.  
If I were in a position to influence the naming of any infants, I'd suggest a return to some of the really old names. 
Make his or her name mean something! 
Provide the child with something up to which to live!
Make the kid stand out when his teacher calls his name: "Aloysius!"
Aloysius
Have you met recently, for example, any infants with these names?
Norma
Eleanor
Beatrice
Edna
Dorothy
Nellie
Ethel
Dorcas
Cynthia
Bertram
Arthur
Harvey
Walter
Ralph
Gordon
Elmer
Clarence
Henry
Frederick
Stanley
I know you would expect to look into the baby carriage and see a tiny girl with tightly permed hair and plastic-framed glasses, or a baby boy with a comb-over and prominent neck tendons, but you'd get over that, wouldn't you?

20 comments:

ladyhawthorne said...

Loved this post! As a genealogist I am fascinated by names, my great grandmother was named Flemontine and I have about 4 Dorcas's on the other side of the family.
While I tend to prefer regular names, I do not like weird spellings and having worked for 3 years in a 95% African American area of town, I have to say I just don't understand the girls names that all end in what sounds like 'sha' (Keniesha) and that are impossible to spell. And lets not leave out the guys with names that start with 'De' (DeTerrell). I just found it very odd and repetitive. Though perhaps their families genealogists will be thrilled one day in the future.
I have 5 generations of John Cole and every male in every generation had at least one son named John Cole. This tangle took me years to straighten out as there are 3 Cole lines that intersect at some point when 2nd & 3rd cousins married. Thank goodness for their wives named Dorcas, Remember and Love.
I believe I am grateful my name is Angela and in my school years there was never any other girl with that name although it seems quite popular now.

Vicki Lane said...

I pay a lot of attention to names because when I make up characters, I want them to have names appropriate to their age.

We named our younger son Justin in '78 -- never having met or heard of another living Justin. And suddenly there were Justin's everywhere. Some deep inner tide, I suppose.

threecollie said...

Great post! I am married to a Ralph...but I don't know any under the age of 60. I have a brand new grand niece named Sophie June though

Rosanne said...

Great subject! I find names quite interesting. I too, grew up surrounded by Debbie's, Linda's, and Patty's. My parents stuck me with a name I've never quite been able to love, and have spent my entire life correcting the spelling of. (sigh)
I prefer solid old-fashioned names. I am tired of Madison, Kinsey, Reagen, Jayden, ect. I remember helping out in my kids' school and hearing Ashley continually!
I have a son named Zachary...but he's 30 years old. We had no idea when we named him that it would become so popular later on. I also have a grandaughter named Eleanor and one named Elsie. Most people raise an eyebrow when they hear that one!
Our family has never been big on trendy names. We've got some doozies in our family tree...including Eber, Clarence, and Florence. Thankfully my kids have avoided using those so far...

morningbrayfarm said...

If you couldn't tell, I'm a huge fan of the old names. :) Bernard, Ellsworth, Fergus, Nigel, Leland, Abigail, etc.

When friends suggested I name Bernard Paco instead, I cringed at the thought. Can you even begin to imagine Bernard as Paco?! No way!

Love this post (as always).

Linda Myers said...

I have 10-year-old twin grandaughters.

Malayne (muh-LAY-nee) is the name of a character in a Dean Koontz novel.

Mary is named for her great grandmother.

Go figure.

Fran said...

Someone I know has just had a baby called Arthur. (Meaning, of course, that they named it Arthur, not that it was already born called Arthur.) I think there should be more of them, and definitely some Wilfreds. That was my granddad's name and I love it.

Wanda..... said...

Grant Alexander, Dustin Benjamin, Nathaniel Andrew, Nicholas Ford, Kathryn Anne, Stephen Andrew, Dylan Michael, Alivia Ruth and Amanda Shayne are my grandchildren's names...most are named after someone in the family.

Barb said...

When my youngest grandson was born, my son mentioned a possible name to me with "creative" spelling that made me cringe. Though I usually stay out of my children's business, I spoke up this time. I could imagine a life-time of correcting both the spelling and pronunciation. Lo and behold, they listened, and we now have Caden. His sister is named Neve (which means snow in Italian - her parents are Korean and German American!). Go figure. My other son and wife named their children after family members - Amanda, Benjamin, and Jack Henry. My daughter (born in Korea) and her husband, a Frenchman, named their son Jean-Philippe. I kept my mouth shut that time. (I often call him J-P) And - I do know a Nellie...

Carolynn said...

Names are so interesting. I read an article many, many years ago about a change that had occurred in naming conventions. The author pointed out that it used to be that dogs had unusual names like Spot & Fluffy and human babies were named Sara and Jack. But things seem to have reversed and dogs are sporting conventional names like Pete and Max, while newborns are being saddled with names like Apple and Skye. Those kids are in for a world of hurt when they see the inside of a classroom.

That said, I've been noticing that the pendulum seems to be swinging back again, ever so slightly. My boss named her sons Oliver & Jacob. Very old school those.

Hilary said...

Great post. My kids have pretty standard names (Jeffrey and Alexander). I never liked my own name as a child because it was different.

There wasn't a name in your list which didn't conjure up thoughts of aunts and uncles.. and there were some that actually were my aunts, uncles and cousins' names.

morningbrayfarm said...

p.s. It was Pablo they wanted me to name Bernard, not Paco. Whoops. :)

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Try living in Friesland , where little girls are called Sjoukje or Froukje or Baukje and little boys can be called Sil or Anne .
But I have met pint-sized Beatrices and Eleanors and knee-high Alberts and Arthurs all over Europe .
Whatever the parents choose , the child will always wish their choice had been different .

#1Nana said...

As an occasional substitute teacher taking attendance is a nightmare with "creative" names. The kids get all huffy and indignant that I mispronounce their names.
But, I'm not one to talk...my mother gave me an unusual spelling. I never had a license plate for my bike or personalized pencils.

fiftyodd said...

So interesting for me as at the moment we are all contributing names for the great occasion of an imminent new granddaughter. My daughter favours Madison or Faye, her husband Clarissa! My choices so far are: Charlotte, Annabelle, Zoe, Chloe, Fallon, Elizabeth, Penny, Jessica, Sophy, Marina, Daisy, Sage, Juliet or Bryony. But that's South Africa, for you! I agree though - must be easy to spell! I've never like my own name - Anthea.

persiflage said...

There is a plethora of names of American states, like Dakota and Indiana, millions of Maddisons, with variable numbers of Ds, names with apostrophes in them, names of the seasons, and a trillion ways of spelling any old or new name. I get apoplectic. Must be awful being a teacher and working out how to spell many of these names, and the pronunciation never follows accepted rules so no one has a sporting chance of knowing how to pronounce names. My step-grandson is called Talon. I ask you! Poor little bloke.

karin said...

My late husband insisted on naming our first son Mark after himself who was named after his father also named Mark but not wanting a Jr. our son's middle name wwas Jacob not Joseph like his father. I insisted we call my son Jake not Sonny as his father had been called. At that time he was the only Jake (43 years ago) and now for the past 10 years or so Jacob has been #1 on the list of boy's names.
73 years ago I was the only Karin. All the others were spelled with an e and I always was proud of the difference. But now my name is spelled any which way.
Well, we were different once upon a time.

Nicole said...

Well, no I don't think that most people choose the names that you mention here anymore. My sister was born 60 years ago with a middle name of "Ethyl" (named after our Grandmother), and she STILL tries to hide it.
Honestly, except for about 3 of those names, they are not exactly names that I think that children would be comfortable with.
Don't get me wrong. I am amazed at what some parents are naming their
children, but names are very important to children, especially when they are called on in school.

Lord Wellbourne said...

I vote for Lavinia, or maybe Lydia! I love the name Eleanor! For the boys, I think Alexander is great and Everett is good.

My father was named was spelled Ralph but pronounced Rafe. I thinks it's a British thing...

Myriam said...

Thank you for the great post! Believe it or not I'm married to an Aloysius from Ireland! Everybody outside his immediate family calls him Alex though which is a pity as I think Aloysius is very sexy!