Red and Blue Baby Naming: Inauguration 2009 Edition

Jan 20th 2009

Hey, anybody remember the 2004 presidential election? I'll refresh your memory, it looked something like this:

The stark red-blue segregation became a national obsession, with stereotypes flying on both sides. The division between the "two Americas" ran deep.  We could all feel it, and we could feel it widening: a vast culturo-political fissure with total mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides.  A map redividing the country into "United States of Canada" and "Jesusland" was one of the hottest jokes of the year.  There was no hope of bridging the gap...until there was. As soon as Barack Obama started redrawing that electoral map, the red-blue meme passed.  But is it really gone? Or was it ever real to begin with? On this inauguration day, I'd like to revisit the red-blue faceoff through the lens of baby names.

A few years back, I started a project to track down the red-blue divide in name terms. Did blue (liberal) and red (conservative) America actually name their children differently? Yes, they surely did. But how they did was a stunner.  The "bluest" names were traditional, Christian, and single-sex; the "reddest" were newly invented, non-religious and androgynous.  (Try it on the NameMapper: select 2004 and type in Henry, then Rylee.)  In other words, our choices of names -- one of the most candid, heartfelt expressions of our values and dreams -- ran precisely opposite to our supposed values divide.

What did it mean? I went down a long path, reading stats and research on red and blue America.  Along the way, I discovered some surprising facts.  For instance, while Americans felt certain their opinions were diverging, actual opinion surveys showed the country's views converging into an age of uncommon consensus.  The division we saw on the maps and felt in our guts was hard to pin down in the real world.  So maybe the peculiar baby name data could point toward some answers.

If you have some time on your hands, you can check out the full article I wrote on the subject back in 2006. But here's the condensed version of where the names led me.

Let's say you have two groups of women making fashion choices. One opts for timeless classics, simple and a little formal; the other chooses the newest, trendiest, most eye-catching styles that make old fogeys squirm.  What drives the difference? If you had to predict just one variable, the obvious choice is age.  Was it possible that blue state parents were more conservative namers simply because they were older?

Sure enough, in 18 of the 19 states that voted for John Kerry in 2004, first-time mothers were older than the national average.  And the more Democratic the community, the stronger the effect.

Waiting to start a family is part of a self-reinforcing class cycle.  Girls from educated, middle-and upper-class backgrounds are more likely to pursue higher education.  To make the most of their investment in schooling, they'll put off having children until they've gotten their careers under way. When they finally do start families they're more financially secure and can provide good educational opportunities for their own children, starting the cycle anew.

You can see how political factors play into this maternal age cycle.  Higher education, for instance, is a classic predictor of liberalism.  A strict cultural conservatism, meanwhile—rejecting abortion, embracing traditional gender roles—would tend to lead you toward younger parenthood.  A conservative community ends up with young moms and thus young-mom style, a liberal community with old-mom style.

So age-based style is entwined with the old standbys of income and values.  But remember that in the red/blue baby name choices, style and values were in direct opposition.  Going head to head in a decision that parents take very seriously, style beat values by a mile. So perhaps the style-making variable of maternal age plays a bigger role in the cultural divide than we realize.

In fact, if you start with nothing but a maternal age gap, you end up predicting a lot of the behaviors that divide red and blue America -- even seemingly value-driven behaviors.  For instance, red-state residents are more likely to report that they attend worship services weekly.  But when do people go to church most?  When it's time to introduce their children to the faith.  Americans who are married with children are twice as likely to attend church weekly as their single, childless counterparts.  The earlier you have kids, therefore, the more the church becomes part of the fabric of your life.  In a community of young moms, the church naturally becomes central to the community's life.

You can follow this same thread to countless other aspects of personal and community life.  What it adds up to is that the age when you have children isn't just one more variable in the cultural spreadsheet.  It's your life story, and the life story of your community.  A "life story gap" is a recipe for mutual incomprehension.

Now here's the kicker. Remember how America's political and moral judgments turn out to be closer today than ever before, and how the widening divide we perceive is hard to pin down?  Well, the maternal age gap -- the life story gap -- is widening.  In 1970, Arkansas and Mississippi had the youngest first-time mothers in America with an average age of 20.  Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York were oldest with an average of 22, a difference of just two years.  By 2000 those numbers stood at 22 and 27, a difference of five years.  The difference is even bigger at the political and lifestyle extremes.  The percentage of Democratic voters in a state correlates closely with the percentage of all births to mothers over 40, which is growing fast.  The red-blue life story gap grows with it.

So that's what I concluded after tallying up the baby names back in 2006.  Does it still have any relevance in the new political world of 2009?  Here's a little sign that it may.  Barack Obama won all or part of 10 states that John Kerry lost.  Suppose you tried to predict which 10 based on the percentage of the vote Kerry took in each state. You'd get 7 of 10 right.  If instead you predicted based on the average age of first-time mothers in each state...8 out of 10.

I'm a baby namer, not a politician.  I don't have to try to bridge policy divides (thank heavens), but I do encounter plenty of hostility on both sides of the baby-naming divide.  Perhaps thinking about the life story gap can help bring us all a little understanding of one another's choices.  As we look across the chasm, let's all take a moment to envision our own lives as they might have been.  Henry and Margaret's mom, you may be just a simple life circumstance away from Colton and Ashlyn's mom.  Be we red and blue or purple, this nation could use a lot of mutual understanding in the years ahead.


By Guest (not verified)
January 24, 2009 4:32 AM

I think one of the problems with this article is that it is conflating liberal with Democrat. African-Americans who are the most solidly Democratic voting block in the country tend to be very culturally conservative as do alot of "ethnic whites" in blue states. Using a Democrat/Republican divide doesn't really work in making conclusions about being liberal or conservative on alot of issues so I would think it would be hard to use it for naming patterns as well.

By Bionic Woman (not verified)
January 24, 2009 10:30 AM

I'm usually very good about not hijacking comment threads, but maybe you all will indulge me? I'm a regular reader and I so wish Laura would set up a discussion board for her readers.

Here's the dilemma (which firmly establishes me as a blue-state mother): We have a third child on the way and girl parts were in evidence at the last two ultrasounds. Our children are Henry Grady (goes by Henry since that's my husband's name, "Henry Grady" was a family name on my side, though only my uncle went by Grady - others were H.G. and Henry) and Gwendolyn Sarah (Gwendolyn was my grandmother's name, Sarah was my husband's grandmother's and mother's name). We've gone with family names with special meaning, but we're running out of family names that we truly like. My husband feels that if the third child doesn't have a family name, she'll feel left out.

Our last name is clearly Scotch-Irish sounding, though it isn't a Mc- or an O'-

So here are some options on the table (some we've discussed primarily as middle names, but I'll leave that up to you):

Family names: Eva (most meaningful family attachment in terms of importance to us), Mae, Rosalind (was Gwendolyn's sister, so sort of appropriate), June, Anne, Anolia

Name with other significance: Fiona (a dear friend/mentor who is the reason my husband and I went on our first date)

Naming tradition consideration: In my mother's mother's line, there's a very long tradition of women using their first names as their daughter's middle name. So Florence's daughter was Gwendolyn Florence, whose daughter was Jan Gwendolyn, whose daughter was (me) Lindsay Jan. We've all switched to using our maiden names as middle names upon marrying. I've never been crazy about my name though (feels very date-stamped in the 80s, which is a shame since my mom was ahead of the trend in the 70s), so we didn't give it to our daughter as her middle name. But maybe using it for this baby would give her a special designation to make up for not having a family first name? Maybe Fiona Lindsay? Eva Lindsay is out, since it sounds like "Evil Lindsay"

Any thoughts? I'm up for both positive and negative comments.

By Bionic Woman (not verified)
January 24, 2009 10:31 AM

Sorry - our son, Henry Grady, goes by Grady.

So we're looking for a sibling for Grady and Gwen(dolyn)

January 24, 2009 11:30 AM

Bionic Woman-I think using a family name would be a lovely idea. However, I don't think its absolutely necessary. She will still feel a special bond if you give her a name you love with a story behind it. So even if Fiona isn't a direct family name I think the story is great.
So combos I came up with-Congrats btw!
Rosalind Fiona; Rosalind June
Fiona Eve; Eva Mae; Lindsay Fiona; Lindsay June

Note: You do have a theme of G names going on. Even though its way overused have you contemplated Grace to keep the theme going? Lindsay Grace; Grace Fiona; and Rosalind Grace sound nice.

January 24, 2009 1:03 PM

Bionic Woman: I like a lot of the names on your list! Maybe understanding what your and your husbands' concerns with them might be helpful--so we could reassure you if we experience the names differently or come up with variants on them maybe? If you're interested in that.

I also think that having a family name as a MN will give the child a strong family connection, but if it's a name you like more for meaning/connection than for sound/use/whatever, as a MN, it won't be used all the time.

And yes, I think a friend connection is as great as a family connection. Especially one with a good story like Fiona has for you and your husband.

January 24, 2009 1:05 PM

Based on the info you gave I think Rosalind Fiona is lovely! (thanks Zoerhenne, you beat me to it)

January 24, 2009 1:32 PM

@Bionic Woman - The name Grady has come up several times on this thread, and I just want to chime in & echo everyone who has said they love it. What I love about Grady is that it is a name that was at the peak of popularity decades ago, but it resounds so well with today's ear. You'll recall from an older post here that it was one of the names that used to be on Laura's "Why Not?" list from her 2005 book, but now Laura says Grady no longer quite fits in that category, since it is at "the ultimate fashion peak." 2007 was the first year in a very long time that Grady hit the Top 100 names in any state: VT and ND.

I think your Gwendolyn is also a very special name. I think another "G" name would be way too matchy matchy.

Rosalind Lindsay or Fiona Lindsay are the names I feel best honor your family naming practices, and pair the best with both Grady and Gwendolyn.

edit: I just noticed that "Rosalind Lindsay" is a double "-lind" - so perhaps not!

January 24, 2009 1:45 PM

@Bionic Woman - you have the most amazing family names, I'm kind of jealous... almost all of those are on my list of favorites.

By Guest Z (not verified)
January 24, 2009 3:26 PM

Bionic Woman -- how about Eva Rosalind, incorporating the -lind from Lindsay that way?

By Prairie Dawn (not verified)
January 24, 2009 4:40 PM

Bionic Woman-- I second Eva Rosalind and Fiona Lindsay. I also like Eva June (from your original list of family names. You have a really nice crop of names to choose from-- can't really go wrong!

And I have loved the name Gwendolyn since high school-- it is just lovely and classic and not-so-common.

Back to previous comments about budding NE's. My 2 yr old daughter just changed her baby dolls' names and I'm amused by her choices. The dolls were named Carrie (this was my old baby doll who I named 20 years ago!) and Baby Boy. New names: Bella and Briley. This is the same child who wants to name our new baby (due Mar. 31st) Ocean(g) or Tomato(b)! LOL.

By Steph P. (not verified)
January 24, 2009 5:01 PM

Bionic Woman- You have so many great options. My personal favorite would be Fiona Mae. I think Fiona and Gwendolyn are lovely sister names.

January 24, 2009 5:42 PM

Bionic Woman- my first-place vote goes for Fiona Lindsay, but I also like June Lindsay. How is Anolia pronounced? uh NO lee uh? aa no LEE uh? It's an interesting name, and growing on me.
First pronunciation:
Anolia June, Anolia Mae
Anolia Lindsay, Anolia Rosalind

By Bionic Woman (not verified)
January 24, 2009 6:16 PM

Thank you all for the great comments, and keep them coming!

By the way - I'd considered Eva Lindsay as a name many years ago, given the naming tradition in my family. The problem is that it sounds like "Evil Lindsay" when you say it aloud.

Your comments are making some headway with DH. I really like a lot of the names on the list, but he's not loving any of them. I think I'm bringing him around to Eva with the promise of the nickname "Evie." I like the sound of Fiona, but I'm not sure about the lack of an easy-to-use nickname. I'm worried I'd end up calling her Fifi! After I told him there were so many votes for Rosalind as a first name (we'd mostly thought of it for a middle name), he said now way. But he won't explain his dislike for it.

Trish - Anolia is sort of pronounced aa-nol-YA. It's the name of my husband's Spanish/Cuban great-grandmother. The other name on the list from his family is Anne. The rest of the names are from my family.

And thank you everyone for the lovely comments about our family names. We really are lucky to have good ones. Of course, there are some duds too - DH is a fourth and his middle name is Ernest. When DS was born, he happened to be born on the actual birthday of the first Henry Ernest, but we stuck to our guns and refused to make him the fifth. Hence the decision to change the middle name and use a name from my family.

For those fans of Grady, I thought I'd share some background that I haven't seen many places online. In the U.S., the name seems to have been somewhat popular in the South around the turn of the century thanks to a well-known businessman/journalist/lecturer named Henry Grady (Grady was his surname). Parents started using the Henry Grady combination (making Grady a middle name) and so there was a crop of Henry Grady's in the South. Eventually, some of those families started reusing the name for juniors and started calling them by the middle name. That's how it happened in my family anyway and I've heard some similar stories about other families in the South. I'm glad that it's catching on. I grew up with an Uncle Grady and a great-uncle H.G. and always liked the sound of it.

By Melissa C (not verified)
January 24, 2009 6:28 PM

Bionic Woman:

Just something to consider.. I absolutely love the name Fiona it is one of my favorites and I really considered using it for my daughter. What made me shy away from the name was the movie Shrek. It is quite popular with children... and the Ogre woman's name is Fiona. Just something to bear in mind... I always feared my daughter might be called Ogre.. and I thought that was quite mean so I decided to go with something else.

Love all your family names they are quite nice. Especially love Grady's name.

By Knee Coal Peay (not verified)
January 24, 2009 7:50 PM

@Bionic Woman - My vote is for Fiona Lindsay, and Eva June would be my second choice. BTW, I also love the name Grady, and have a friend who named her son that. Everyone just loves it; especially my DH who never loves the kind of names I do!

By Guest (not verified)
January 25, 2009 12:46 AM

Going back several comments, I need to ask, what exactly is a "hipster" name? I have heard the designation a few times now but am not sure how to define it.

By Coll
January 25, 2009 10:57 AM

Bionic Women I also like Fiona Rosalind and Fiona Lindsay--though I think the "lind" in Rosalind could stand in for your name and provide the connection you want.

I also love Mae--especially as a nn for Margaret. So I'd recommend Fiona Mae, Anolia Mae, or Fiona June.

Love Grady and Gwendolyn.

I wouldn't be worried about the Fiona in Shrek. By the time your daughter is old enough to be teased those movies will be almost a decade old, not exactly timely. Little kids will have moved onto something else.

By Kai
January 25, 2009 11:42 AM

Fiona is a great name (although I am somewhat biased as it is my own name!)

As a nn, I am always called Fi (Fee) and all the other Fiona's I know also go by that nn. No one has ever called me Fifi with any degree of seriousness.

I also think that with your Scotish/Irish name it will fit as it has its own celtic heritage. I also think that it works better as a first rather than middle name, and I think that Lindsay as a mn works very well with it (mine is Cl@re, and I know other Fiona's with mn - Elizabeth and Mary).

I wouldn't worry about the Shrek connection as Fiona in Shrek is the heroine after all! And the whole point of Shrek is beauty is more than skin deep. Also, in the next couple of years who is to say that Disney wont come up with a ugly or evil or unpopular character called Eva, June or Rosalind?

January 25, 2009 12:00 PM

Interesting names from my local listings:
Dade (reminds me of Miami-Dade on CSI)
Dylan and Logan (twins)
Seven (like from Seinfeld!)

January 25, 2009 12:50 PM

@Guest (#166) who asked what's a hipster? Well, no one really goes around claiming to be a hipster. However, if a 20- or 30-something year old paid $500 for granny glasses, or works in art/design and eschews everything commercial while at the same time having expensive taste for offbeat things they deem "authentic," chances are they're hipsters - though they would dispute that label furiously!

With regard to baby naming, Hipster Names are hard to define, but are basically names that try to be a bit ironic, with a sort of quirky vintage style that appeals to members of the subculture; as in names that are so out that they're in again. A good example at the moment might be June or Betty, and Earl or Norman - names of middle-aged people made popular several decades ago, which most mainstream people probably would think are terribly out of fashion today, but hipsters see as different enough to be cool.

My hipster friends (who don't claim to be hipsters and would find that notion offensive) have named their children things like Spencer, Mable, Ruth, Elias, and Finley. I don't necessarily consider all of these names to be "hipster names" on their face - the context definitely matters; the style of the family and what they're about.

January 25, 2009 12:46 PM

RobynT-Interesting names! What an interesting family there would be if your Seven married the Five that was listed a few days back!

By Eo (not verified)
January 25, 2009 1:29 PM

Guest-- I'm one of those who find the whole term "hipster" as applied to any of the usual suspects, amusing.

In my view, most of the people so described are very akin to the yuppies of yore. They have something of a yuppie sensibility, although the people who lionize them would like to think they are more "pure" in their aspirations. Whether they admit it or not, they want to be ahead of the curve, both aesthetically, and socially.

I don't object to that in the least, by the way.

A hipster, in the context of the twentieth century, was someone truly outside of the norm-- typically a jazz performer who created what never was before, or a poet or artist who found an entirely new mode of expression.

I don't believe many of these urbanites currently dubbed hipsters are in that tiny, rather exalted group...

There's got to be a better term, one that succeeds "yuppie" but doesn't have the smug, self-congratulatory ring of "hipster"?

Needless to say, this is just my own personal opinion, that of the fuddiest of duddies.

I love Ruth, Sibyl, Horace, etc. not because they will be the next "wave", but because I'm often drawn to the "old", in whatever genre.

Love the name "Fiona". Love it with a sibling of "Gwendolyn"...

Random thought: Robyn T, I've thought of "Dade" before as a place name, but also as a nickname for "David".

Can't really come up with one I like. The Welsh "Daffy" would never fly here. "Dai" seems kind of fun...

January 25, 2009 1:31 PM

The only doll name that I remember from when I was a kid was my lovey, Amy. When she "went to the hospital" when I was four or so, I was heart-broken and never really named another doll. I have no idea how I came to choose that name for her.

Edit: maybe that's why I really hate hospitals. LOL

January 25, 2009 2:23 PM

Baby name I saw posted on an email list, born last week:

Adonir@m Joshu@

Not sure how to pronounce it, though.

By bill (not verified)
January 25, 2009 3:58 PM

one way to differentiate between yuppies and hipsters is that hipsters sometimes don't mind being dirty, dumpster diving for bagels at trader joe's, and wearing ill-fitting thrift store garb. anyway, i'm used to a cleveland/detroit brand of hipster, where people just do their own thing, without trying to out-hip anyone else. anyway, the area is too poor for very much of the urban outfitters/american apparel style hipsterdom.

i can't really think of any hipsters that i know (myself included) which children even on the horizon. i know some "cool parents" who are in bands (with kids in their 20s) but don't really consider them hipsters.

By Penelope (not verified)
January 25, 2009 4:33 PM

I'm thoroughly enjoying this discussion of hipster and how it is different from yuppie. I'm glad that Eo reminds us of the original hipsters and how this terms was associated with fresh vision and art. Which makes me realize that none of the 'hipsters' that I know are really hipsters.
With regard to baby names, how are the hipsters different from the traditionalists? Aren't those folks using old-fashioned names, like Mabel, Ruby and Oliver? What's the difference?

Bionicwoman - I really like Eva Lindsay. Fiona Lindsay is nice too. I would avoid paring Rosalind and Lindsay.

By Penelope (not verified)
January 25, 2009 5:52 PM

Local Baby Announcement listing

Don0van Se@mus
Sc@rlett Dawn
Carl0s G@briel II
M@rcus Ashl@nd Jam&s
Atin Ke!th
L0gan Alex@nder
Lar@ Noëlle Thekl@
Isabell@ Michelle
Alexis M@riah
Noah K@i
Andre Jeremi@h
Natalia Monserr@t
Jadale@h Sar@
James P&der
Chiar@ Francesca
Ryl@n Andrew
Mari@h Rose
Emm@ Esmeralda
Shayl@ Jane
Valer!e Alicia
L!la Lucy She@
Jord@n Elisabeth
Eva Nik0le
Aria S0l

I really like the last one!

By Knee Coal Peay (not verified)
January 25, 2009 6:27 PM

Re: "Hipsters" ... Nicole S gets it - hipster is not a positive label, and one that only out-group people would ever apply to a person. The history of the term hipster, while interesting, is largely irrelevant to understanding today's hipsters - one group did not branch out from the other, and there's no relationship of any kind to the past usage of the term. Just think of "hipster" as a kind of broad, general aesthetic, like "preppy," or "hippie." It may or may not describe real people.

Penelope - the difference between name traditionalists and hipster namers ... It's in their own personal answer to the "why?" part of the question of "Why is a name like Mable so great?" A name traditionalist's answer might be something more like it happens to be a family name, it was used in great British literature, or it has some special meaning, etc. A hipster's answer might be something more like it sounds vintage and cool, there's a kind of realness to it, and I've never met anyone by the name and it strikes me as clever, etc.

January 25, 2009 6:45 PM

Re local names:
I've decided to set up a spreadsheet of my local hospital births. There are a lot of different ethnic backgrounds in this city so the names will be varied. However, I thought this would be interesting to study and see if I could note any emerging trends. I only have the babies names and not other demographic info like age. It will be hard to make statements such as what Laura and others were saying about older moms or college-educated families or anything, but I will be able to state for example that Ethan is getting pretty popular around here. I will try to post something at the end of every month.

January 25, 2009 7:20 PM

LOL, naming dolls! When I was four (which was, really, eleven years ago) my favorite doll baby was a boy named Baby Jesus. Two words, yes. What can I say? I went to a conservative Christian school and had daily Bible lessons, lol.

There was Addy, my American Girl doll. She kept her given name.

There are India and China, my twin dolls. India wears green and red; China wears blue and white.

Chiara is one of my Build-A-Bears, the first one. At the time I made her I was seven, so I thought I was making up a name (something I've long ditched and now scorn), so until I found out kee-AIR-uh is how the name is properly pronounced, I said it as chee-AIR-uh.

And to continue on with the theme - J for boys and C for girls - (and I hate obvious/silly themes now, but for my bears I still use them), the others are named Jeremy, Caroline, and Jordan.

January 25, 2009 11:54 PM

daydream11- LOL. Thanks for sharing! Baby Jesus... that's great...
BTW Chiara (one of my favorite names) is pronounced kee-AH-ra, originally, in Italy.

January 26, 2009 2:42 AM

Speaking of doll names, an article in today's NYTimes gives Barbie's full name: Barbie Millicent Roberts. This was news to me, although those of you who were of an age to play with Barbies might have already known that.

January 26, 2009 3:14 AM

Some friends named teir baby this weekend - Leo Michael, brother to Charlie and Mia. I love the way all the names have an ee sound.

January 26, 2009 10:34 AM

Barbie Millicent Roberts?! Wow. That *almost* gives the gal a whole new vibe. My mom prohibited all things Barbie in our house, but maybe if she'd known her whole name she would have thought more kindly about her. :),

My childhood dolls were named Paige, Aimee, and Jessica. At some point I started collecting pterodactyls. They were named Freddie, Trudy, Jimmy, Benny, and William.

By Eo (not verified)
January 26, 2009 10:47 AM

Enjoying Penelope, Knee Coal Peay, bill's and others' ruminations on "hipster". To me, the word still seems inaccurate as applied to the population being discussed...

Suddenly, came up with a word that I think fits the concept-- "beatnik"!

Isn't that original of me?! It's due for a revival. And today's aspirants to originality and bohemianism seem eerily similar to those of the Fifties' Beat Generation. More crunchy, of course.

I shall use beatnik from now on. Alternating with "hipnik", maybe...

Speaking of which, the Winter editon of "O At Home" magazine features a house and family who I am sure are meant to be the zenith of "hipnicity".

The children's names: (There are two sets of twins)

Wolfgang, age 11
Tallulah, 10
Bellamy, 10
Breaker, 9
Five, 3
Holleder, 3

Weren't people here discussing number names recently? "Five" does not impress me.

Wonder if "Breaker" is some sort of tribute to "Breaker Morant"?

By Anne with an E (not verified)
January 26, 2009 11:01 AM

@Elizabeth T. Were the pterodactyls stuffed or little figurines? I've never heard of anyone collecting those, cool!

@Penelope--Lara N0elle Thekl@ caught my eye on your list. I've never seen the name Thekl@ before...

My stuffed animals all had to have alliterative names, Baxter Bear, Betty Bunny, Lily Lamb, etc. My favorite dolls were Agatha Beulah (a CPK who came with that on her certificate), Julianna, which I thought was the most beautiful name ever, and Phronsie, which I'm pretty sure came from the Five Little Peppers books.

And re: the hipster commentary...I work with far too many hipsters and tweemos, and I find this discussion most entertaining! :D Most of my co-workers are still college aged, so very few of them have children, but the few that have had kids include Jonah, Adrienne, Star and a girl named Max, none of which are particularly 'hipster' to me, but we'll see what the next few are named...

By Anne with an E (not verified)
January 26, 2009 11:03 AM

Eo posted while I was writing my post...and I just have to add that I LOVE hipnik!!! That describes the hippie/hipster vibe around my work to a T!

January 26, 2009 12:26 PM

Re: Hipnik names: I know of two such babies born this past year: W1lder R@ine and Ev1e Sc0ut. But I disagree that they only choose names that have no meaning to them... the first this is definitely the case, the second was named after characters from the mother and father's favorite books. Although I have no idea what other names were considered for W1lder (which makes me think of the Little House books author), others that were considered for Ev1e were: Ruby, Lucy, Charlie... the mother said she was especially fond of names that sound like they were from "Peanuts" comic strip.

January 26, 2009 1:45 PM

Eo- I LOVE the word hipnik!!

Miriam- I played with Barbies probably at the height of their popularity and had NO idea that she had a full name! It's funny to me that Barbie is a name still, I know it's a nn for Barbara, but I cannot think of it as a name, it will always first be the name of the toy for me. I think when I was little I didn't realize that it was a name, it was more like a title- a cabbage patch kid, a barbie, etc.

By Penelope (not verified)
January 26, 2009 2:05 PM

I'm still mulling over this hipster, beatnik thing. I have more stereotypical ideas of what those words mean. Beatnik - aficionado of the modern jazz movement, anti-conformist and underground. Hipster is stuck in my mind as synonymous with Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. "Beat" meant to be beaten down or down-trodden but still 'beatific' or happy in some way, there was supposed to be some type of spirituality in it.

I don't see how these terms related to the new 'yuppie' of today who is naming their children "Five" and "Breaker" and spending $500 on granny glasses. Those people have money and need it in sufficient quantities to keep this image of being 'ahead of the curve'. Like Knee Coal Peay said, those people make choices based on image and the vintage-ness of it. It doesn't seem like they should be called hipsters or beatniks or even hipniks (although that sounds pretty cool). Also, these folks are definitely not hippies, I was raised by hippies and I don't hardly see them anymore. It bugs me to see these dirty, rich kids with Toyota Land Cruisers, and their whole Patagonia-wearing, dread-lock-having, expensive-pot-carrying lifestyle and have them called "hippies". I cringe and my parents merely look away.

I don't know what to call the people that we are talking about. Do we always have to use old terms to describe new phenomenon?

Sorry for the rant that hardly had to do with names, I obviously don't feel like working today.

By Anne with an E (not verified)
January 26, 2009 2:29 PM

Sibsets (all under age 10):

Maria and Francisca
Kayleigh and Rebecca
Quincy and Miles
Martin and Justin
Oscar and Victoria
Valerie and Greg
Sarah, Megan, and Clare
Johnny and Stephanie
Fiona and Thalena
Kyra and Wyatt
Anthony, Jonny, and Maria
Alex and Ana Paulina
Alejandro, Alisa, and Augustine

By Amy3
January 26, 2009 2:44 PM

Bionic Woman -- I have to vote for Fiona Lindsay. I love the connections both those names provide to actual people as well as a family naming tradition. And as for a nn, who says you will 1) use one at all, or 2) that it has to be directly derived from the name itself? (See Eo for inspired nn choices!)

As for the hipster discussion, I think hipnik is too funny. You're even good for nns for social movements, Eo!

Oh and two babies to announce, although one I mentioned earlier (now I have mns, though): Ava Christine and Lyla Beth J3ssie (both born to co-workers).

My captcha today: Arturo Hand.

January 26, 2009 3:22 PM

From The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman, which concluded its serialization in yesterday's NYTimes. The detective Tess Monaghan solves a mystery while on strict bedrest due to a high-risk pregnancy. The pregnancy and the mystery end simultaneously. This passage concerns the naming of the baby (obviously).

But Tess had always known the name she wanted. She just hadn’t allowed herself to say it out loud. “The tradition is to pick someone who’s died. Remember my friend Carl? I’d like to name her Carla.”

Crow hesitated, and Tess thought he might object, that he might want a less sad legacy for their daughter. Carl died under such horrible circumstances. But wasn’t all death horrible? “I’ll agree to Carla if you let me have the middle name I want: Scout.”

Tess smiled. “Carla Scout Monaghan. It will make my mother insane.” Then she realized that she was a mother herself, and the thought of making a parent insane had suddenly lost much of its appeal.


Strange, they had never planned to use both names, but it suited the baby somehow, who had lost much of her hair and developed a skeptical squint in her still-hazel eyes. Lord, how she would hate them someday for saddling her with that unwieldy name.

By Caruso Confer (not verified)
January 26, 2009 3:51 PM

I return to the basic truth that nearly EVERYONE chooses baby names that they love, and names that will fit in with their peers' sensibilities. It's the peers and sensibilities that are different, not the basic decision-making process. Hipster, hick, and everyone in between: same approach, different setting. If you want to be left to choose names you love that fit *your* world, you're going to have to accept that others will do the same, even if you don't like or understand their choices.

And yes, no matter what name you choose, SOMEONE out there will think it's horrible, or boring, or tired, or trying-too-hard. So you don't worry about the someones. Just worry about your kid and the best gift YOU can give them. And please try to assume that's what others are also doing.

January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Miriam-That was interesting. It makes me think of the Campbell children an other celebrities we've talked about recently. Does giving your kid a name that has meaning for you "saddle them with an unwieldy name"? I think in the case of the Campbell's YES but maybe not in the case of the Affleck's or others.

Eo-Hipnik is funny. There was someone who posted on this family earlier (maybe Bethany) where I had thus referred back to the name Five. I just cannot regard these types of people seriously. Those that try too hard to be in the norm or conversely extremely out of it for just that sake, are just not my cup of tea.

January 26, 2009 4:39 PM

Regarding the family with Wolfgang, Bellamy, Tallulah, Breaker, Five and Holleder, I found a little video on their family.

I actually love the names Bellamy and Tallulah for twin girls. They have a nice symmetry, three syllables, double lls, lilting sounds, but are different as well, accents on different syllables, different beginning and ending sounds. They both sound a bit old South as well. Wolfgang is a standard German name. Holleder is a German surname. (Although I *think* "Holle" means hell.) The only names that I really am not keen on are Breaker and Five. So if Breaker changes his name to Beau (to match the Southern sisters) and Five changes his name to Quincy (means five), I'm totally on board with this family!! :)

January 26, 2009 5:07 PM

Tirzah-I'm with you. Bellamy and Tallulah not so bad. Wolfgang nms but it IS a real name. Holleder and Breaker leave me on the fence. My criticism lies with Five. I LOVE Quincy!

January 26, 2009 5:20 PM

Penelope: Your rant sorta has to do with names... labels are sorta like names. Anyway, I get your point, but I think "hipster" and "hippie" have new definitions. There's no stopping it! Sorry.

Also, I think to understand hipster names, we have to go back to Murgatroyd. Can't remember if the person who shared it actually had evidence, but the sense was that it was given sort of ironically, like "Can you believe we named her [I think it was a her] Murgatroyd!?" Or given, not in earnest, not seriously.

By Liz & Louka (not verified)
January 26, 2009 5:29 PM

Caruso Confer - I absolutely agree. The only exceptions to the "fit in" bit are people who are very socially isolated. Might this be the case for the Campbell family? I know when I was unemployed I had little contact with anyone, until I started a technical college course.

January 26, 2009 5:51 PM

Anne with an e
Thanks for the sibling names...
How funny- I know an Alex and an Ana Paulina... but they are over ten. They live in England, (English/Mexican couple) and the Alex is short for Alejandra.

Tirzah- Hölle means hell. Without the umlaut, I think it would feel completely different to a German. Like, say, reach and rich. Not the same word at all!
I agree with your opinions on the names- Breaker seems like the worst thing one could call a small boy! Bellamy and Tallulah are fun.