Stealth Hit Names, Part 2: The Boys

Jul 2nd 2010

Yesterday I introduced the "stealth hit" baby names: names with no dominant spelling, so that their overall popularity is obscured in statistical rankings. Take a look at that post first for more explanation and the list of girls' names. Today, we conclude with the stealth boys' names.

You'll see that the boys' list is half the length of the girls', which isn't a big surprise. Boys' names are still more conservative and concentrated. What's more, the wide-open creativity on the girls' side can have the effect of making parents of boys less free with spellings. Think of how often you've seen parents of girls use variations like Ryleigh or Ashtyn to "feminize" names. Since those spellings are used to signal girl, parents of boys are more inclined to stick to the most standard male versions.

A few notables:

- Elliot/Elliott is the only name that appears on both lists.

- Blaze/Blaise fulfills all of the criteria for the list, but it's hard to think of those two as just alternate spellings of the same name. The have separate meanings and origins and appeal to very different families.

- Kaden is the stealthiest name in America, with nothing close to a standard spelling. Four versions met my two-thirds threshhold, and five more rank in the boys' top 1000.

BOYS

Antoine/Antwan
Ayan/Aayan
Blaze/Blaise
Bodhi/Bodie/Bode
Bryan/Brian
Bryton/Brighton
Cade/Kade
Colin/Collin
Damarion/Demarion
Darrell/Darryl
Deangelo/D'Angelo
Elliot/Elliott
Grey/Gray
Jacorey/Jacory
Jayvion/Javian
Kaden/Caden/Kayden/Cayden
Kale/Cale
Kason/Cason
Keon/Keyon
Kyran/Kyren
Marcelo/Marcello
Markell/Markel
Matthias/Mathias
Phillip/Philip
Reece/Reese/Rhys
Reid/Reed
Stefan/Stephan/Stephon
Taj/Tahj
Tavin/Taven
Tavion/Tavian
Terrance/Terrence
Thiago/Tiago
Xander/Zander
Yaakov/Yakov
Zavion/Xavion

Comments

1
July 2, 2010 11:17 AM

Wow! These stealth names are really all over the naming map, aren't they? Fascinating. Thanks for doing all this work!

2
By Alicia (not verified)
July 2, 2010 11:28 AM

I've never heard most of these.. I'd heard pretty much all the girls names, but not these. Interesting

3
By Melly C (not verified)
July 2, 2010 11:37 AM

I noticed this recently with the name Colin/Collin. It's on the top of our boys list.. but we can't decide the spelling. I think I like Collin better... but I worry that it will be misspelled.. even though according to stats its quite the norm

4
July 2, 2010 12:38 PM

Melly C: To me Colin is standard. But if you really love it "Collin with 2 'l's" should be simple enough to correct.

5
By hyz
July 2, 2010 12:55 PM

Ditto Awkward Turtle on Colin/Collin

6
By AJD (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:07 PM

Are Marcelo and Marcello really pronounced the same? Marcelo is Spanish, so the "c" is pronounced as "s". Marcello is Italian, so the "c" is pronounced as "ch".

7
By alr as guest (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:16 PM

I didn't get in on the girls' thread, but I just read some of the comments about choosing a name you think has a standard spelling, only to find out no one knows how to spell it.

That's us and Mabel.

Although no variations of Mabel are in the top 1000 now (or have been for a solid 50 years), the "Mabel" spelling was ranked in the top 20 at one time (albeit like 130 years ago). However, "Mable" (we get this one A LOT) only ever climbed as high as a 124 rank and "Maybelle" (also have gotten this quite a bit) only ever reached 365.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct people... the SAME people. Over and over. They just aren't paying attention. I'm never annoyed the first time, it's an honest mistake... but it gets my goat when it someone KEEPS getting it wrong.

We didn't even consider another spelling of Mabel bc I've had to deal with the "less common" spelling issue my whole life - my name is Alison-with-one-l. Just yesterday even my own baby shower evite (no joke here!!) was sent to an Allison out in cyberland. If your own friends who throw you a party can't even get it right, that's bad.

Oy. Sorry, Mabel. It doesn't get better.

....oh, and God help us when we bring Ephrem home...

8
By Stacy (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:30 PM

I'm curious as to what the name enthusiasts here think of Elliot/Elliott. It's on our boy list (we're expecting boy/girl twins in September) and we can't decide on the spelling. We're not fans of "creative" spellings and would ordinarily just go with the most common version, but with Elliot/Elliott there doesn't really seem to one.

9
By Shannon B (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:42 PM

My 3.5 yr old DS is named Elliott. I gave my husband the choice in the spelling, and he chose 2 Ts...

That being said whenever we are spelling his name or telling it for people to write down they assume its with 1 T. If you like the 2nd T spelling, use it, but you will be forever spelling it to people. It doesn't bother us though. Since we have a common last name, we wanted the (slightly) less popular version so he would have less name dopplegangers.

10
July 2, 2010 1:47 PM

stacy,
i LOVE elliott! (for a boy (for a girl, i'm rather violently opposed)). i prefer 2 Ls and 2 Ts, as shown above, though i think preferences are divided on this board. for some reason, it just looks incomplete to me without the second T. i also don't love the one-T-spelling because it makes me think of french words that end in -ot and i want to pronounce it like el-ee-oh. so my vote is elliott. great name, either way!

plus, you know, elliott in E.T. spelled it that way (the first place i heard the name), so that's good enough for me. :]

11
By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:46 PM

Stacy: I think you are always better off with the simplest possible spelling. The simplest (usually therefore shortest) spelling always looks the most distinguished. Therefore, I vote for Elliot over Elliott.

My real name is Kristine. Like, Christine with a K, which is how I always say it whenever it matters. I have found that throughout my childhood, people always assumed Christine was spelled with a C, and if I wanted the right spelling, I had to speak up. Suddenly, maybe in the last four or five years, just about everyone asks me if it's a K or a C. This is both really convenient and really unexpected. It makes having the alternate spelling so much easier.

I'm guessing the reason for this is that so many people now have alternate spellings or used one for their own child or both. Anyone else out there having this experience?

Anyway, the point being that I think it's just going to be so much easier for the kids of this generation because absolutely everyone will always spell their names to everyone else, and no one will ever presume.

12
By hyz
July 2, 2010 2:03 PM

I vote for Elliott--for some reason, this seems like the "normal" spelling to me, so I agree with emilyrae that Elliot looks rather incomplete. I have no good reasoning to back this up--that's just my gut reaction.

ETA, now that I think about it, maybe it's just because I'm used to seeing boys' names end in -tt--Everett, Beckett, Bennett, Barrett, Scott, Rhett, Brett, Wyatt, Merritt, etc....

13
By GirlJordan (not verified)
July 2, 2010 1:58 PM

A note on "Kyran/Kyren" above - is that supposed to be a variant of "Kieran/Ciaran"? Or is it an entirely separate name (kie-ren vs. keer-an)? Either way, that should maybe be factored into its stealth popularity, since Kieran alone is #516!

14
July 2, 2010 2:00 PM

AJD wrote: "Are Marcelo and Marcello really pronounced the same? Marcelo is Spanish, so the "c" is pronounced as "s". Marcello is Italian, so the "c" is pronounced as "ch"."

This is one I went back and forth on a lot. You're absolutely right that the Italian pronunciation would be different, but my sense is that Americans choosing that name are pronouncing it like Marcelo. It's like Gianna (often jee-AH-nah here) only more so. But it's a borderline decision for sure.

15
July 2, 2010 2:00 PM

jane, mo5,
hmm...i don't know that the simplest/shortest spelling is *always* the most distinguished. i think eleanor is just as distinguished as elinor, for example, and claire just as distinguished as clare, etc.

oh, but i did mean to tell you: i do greatly prefer juliet to juliette (in that case, shorter *is* more distinguished for me), and i'm very surprised that you get juliette so frequently. to me juliette, while perfectly valid, is a secondary spelling. i would imagine that romeo and juliet would be people's first association as well--it's certainly mine!

16
By hyz
July 2, 2010 2:07 PM

I also agree with emilyrae on Juliet, and I'd actually tend to pronounce the two spellings slightly differently. I say Juliet as JOOL-ee-et, and Juliette as joo-lee-ET (I guess because Juliette looks frenchier, so I want to put the emphasis on the last syllable).

17
By Daffy Castilian (not verified)
July 2, 2010 2:44 PM

Regarding Elliot/t, I found this page informative when I was considering it:
http://www.elliottmccrory.com/elliott.php

Here's an interesting bit:
"[T]he vast majority of individuals today spell the name with the full seven letters. ...[I]n modern English the double-t spelling makes sense for pronunciation purposes, as the name looks French with a single t.

In fact, the name came to English from French and first appears after the Norman Conquest! The name is formed from the Old French diminutive form of the name Elie, the Old French version of Elias, the Greek form, i.e. the New Testament version, of Elijah. As such, the historical spelling of this name is Elliot... My best guess as to the prevalence of the double-t spelling of Elliott would be similar to your original supposition: in English it makes more sense to have two t's because of the pronunciation."

Note, though that Elliot was more popular that Elliott in 2009, with 1104 and 884 boys respectively.

18
By Daffy Castilian (not verified)
July 2, 2010 2:47 PM

Oh, and there were 168 Eliots and 56 Eliotts last year as well.

19
July 2, 2010 3:10 PM

daffy,
that link doesn't work (for me), but if you just go to www.elliottmccrory.com, the first link is "the correct spelling of elliott." i find it amusing and sort of sweet that he's so attached to the double-L, double-T spelling. if his lists and the like are true, it does *seem* like i may be justified in thinking of elliott as the "normal" spelling, however, i'm not sure he's unbiased. :] he also has an interesting point: if 40% of instances of his name are spelled wrong, then it does seem possible that many instances of elliots out there are actually misspelled elliotts...? not that any of this is conclusive--just speculation. i just think it's so funny that he's so protective of his name; i admire that!

20
July 2, 2010 3:12 PM

My son and daughter-in-law are calling their little foster son (6 months old) Elliott. They hope to be able to adopt him as soon as possible, maybe early next year. When/if they do adopt him, Elliott will become his legal name. My son asked me one or two t's and one or two l's, and I voted for Elliott, which is what they have chosen. I am not sure why I chose as I did, but perhaps Elliott has more 'weight' and looks more masculine?

21
July 2, 2010 3:19 PM

Another thought--I'm surprised that Stephen/Steven didn't meet the criteria, but Stephan/Stefan did.

22
July 2, 2010 3:28 PM

Elliott looks complete to me. I don't know why. I'm like that with names, usually I like them or group them together in almost random ways.

23
By Daffy Castilian (not verified)
July 2, 2010 3:39 PM

Here's some other anecdotal stuff I also found influential:

http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/suitability_of_Elliott.html

and

http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/suitability_of_Elliot.html

24
By Anna S (not verified)
July 2, 2010 4:11 PM

Elliot vs Elliott - with respect to "spelling issues" I think this is almost as harmless as it gets. You don't need to say more than Elliot-with-one-t or Elliott-with-two-t's to clarify the spelling. The same goes for Colin-with-one-l and Collin-with-two-l's - honestly, these days it could be a lot worse ;-)

alr - who are those people who keep getting the spelling of Mabel wrong? Grandparents, cousins, friends...? I can sort-of see how people who are not familiar with Mabel-as-a-name may think it's spelt like mable-the-syrup the first time - but repeatedly!? Unless the people in question have issues with spelling in general I don't get it...

Juliet vs Juliette - just checked the numbers - the Juliette spelling was more common until ca 1950 after which Juliet took the lead. However the distribution has been within 40%-60% for most of the time, i.e. there has never been a clear winner. Personally I prefer Juliet by a little bit, I find it just a bit more sophisticated.

25
By Eo (not verified)
July 2, 2010 4:11 PM

"Elliot(t)" is one of the surnames in my family, but I'm ashamed to say that as an NE, I'm not quite sure of which version! I'm going to guess and say two "l's", two "t's".

Nevertheless, I have a slight preference for "Elliot", the (to my eye) less "fussy" version, so to me seems more attractive for a boy. I even like "Eliot", which reminds me of wonderful writer George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).

But then I remembered to check the spelling of our horrible disgraced former Governor Spitzer, and he uses "Eliot"!

So that kind of spoils that version for me. And it's not like his form of the name will fade into discreet obscurity any time soon-- CNN, in its infinite flat-footed wisdom, has seen fit to reward him with his own TV show, coming soon, aaagh...

Interesting trivia from the Penguin Dictionary of Surnames: They say that the "-tt" form is a far commoner surname than the "-t", but both are evenly spread over England.

Also, the "-tt" form was the 48th commonest surname in the U.S. in 1939. And for all you nobility watchers, "Elliot", one "t", is the surname of the earls of Minto...

26
By val_jean (not verified)
July 2, 2010 4:39 PM

A few years ago I believe there was a trend to name children just initials. I babysat a K.J.,(born about 1995) knew of a T.J.
This trend seems to be the opposite of the cre8ive spelling movement; These kids have plain names that are just initials. Of course they too must explain their names, but never how to spell them.

27
By Nelly (not verified)
July 2, 2010 4:49 PM

As a Janelle (One N, two Ls, thank you), you'd think I would be better at noticing, but I always have a hard time remembering if Elliot/t has one L or two. For simplicity's sake, I'd choose either Eliot (one L, one T) or Elliott (two Ls, two Ts). With two variant letters, having equal numbers seems like it would be easier for people to remember.

Otherwise, people like me start scratching our heads and thinking, "Was that Eliott or Elliot? One L two Ts or two Ls one T?"

My vote is for Elliott. :)

28
By Anna S (not verified)
July 2, 2010 5:00 PM

Phonetically speaking, shouldn't Eliot (one l, as many t's as you'd like) be pronounced with a long E, like /ee-lee-ot/?

29
By hyz
July 2, 2010 5:11 PM

Anna S, if only it were so simple. I see where you're coming from, but I can think of many E-consonant-vowel words that have the short (lax?) E sound--e.g. exit, Elinor, elixir (although this one can go either way), elephant, elevator, etc. I think the double L should make it crystal clear that the preceding vowel is short (although the double N in my daughter's name does not seem to have that effect on people...), but the single L can yield the "eh" sound as well.

30
By NJ
July 2, 2010 5:16 PM

No Alistair/Alastair/Alasdair, Stephan/Stevan, and Conor/Connor - the ones I grew up with, it is interesting how names have moved on.

I'm looking at the UK/US split in name variations:

Alison is the far more common spelling here (UK), I only know of one Allison (my friend's flatmate from college in the US!) Again, I know of about 7 Colins and no Collins. And all the Philips I know have one 'l' (and the only alternative spelling is a German friend, Philipp) and the two guys I've met called Rhys spelt it that way. I get the feeling for a lot of the names the UK has one clear spelling.

31
July 2, 2010 5:18 PM

anna s,
i second hyz on the phonetics issue. i can see where you're coming from as well, but i guess that 'e' can be a bit tricky.

also, regarding mabel: the syrup is actually maple syrup, not mable syrup, though it's possible that your point about the syrup tripping people up regarding mabel still stands. i bet you're not the only person who's mistakenly confused the two.

32
July 2, 2010 5:37 PM

hyz,
i was going to ask you: is elliott a name you'd consider for this baby? i only ask because i really quite love elliott, and we seem to have roughly similar taste, i think (though no one can ever match your love of botanicals!). i don't know why i'm suggesting it because i'm still hoping you go with oliver, but i just thought i'd ask. trivia: i just noticed recently that three of my favorite boys' names are three syllables with "li" in the middle: julian, oliver, and elliott. kind of interesting, i thought. also, to whomever asked, i think those would be my boy triplet names. simon is a close runner up.

33
By hyz
July 2, 2010 5:55 PM

I don't know why, emilyrae, but Elliott just doesn't do it for me (although you know I love Julian, Oliver, and Simon). Maybe it's the "Ellie" sound?? I don't like Ellie as a nn for Eleanor or anything else, although I seem to know a fair number of Ellies and Ellys--I guess it seems kind of ho hum to me (ellie, not elliott). I also don't get the old-fashioned vibe as much from Elliott (and I realize this is subjective, not based on hard historical facts about the name), which is a major criteria for me in names. I do like Elijah, though, which is apparently related and kind of similar sounding, but without the "ellie", and sounds more old-fashioned to me--too religious to actually use, though, I think.

34
By Anna S (not verified)
July 2, 2010 6:11 PM

@hyz, emilyrae - very good point about Eliot and similar /El-/ words. (I wonder if the "lax" pronunciation has something to do with the Latin/Greek origin of the words...? Either way, there's no point in arguing against Eliot-one-l being pronounced like Elliot).

@emilyrae - mable syrup... doh!

35
By EVie
July 2, 2010 7:19 PM

Re: Elliott - I personally prefer this spelling as well. However, I have to question the statement from Elliott McCrory's site that Elliot is the "historical" spelling - notwithstanding the fact that spellings were not at all standardized in the Middle Ages, it seems like the most common variant back then was actually Eliot (because, as he says, the name was constructed from the Old French version of Elias, Élie, plus the diminutive suffix -ot). I believe that Miriam also pointed out on an earlier post that in medieval French, the final -t was not silent (I think when we were discussing Amoret?) So the extra t wouldn't have affected the pronunciation back in the day.

I'm kind of lukewarm on Elliott, which is unfortunate, because it's a family name on one side of my husband's family (as a middle name for women as well as men).

hyz - if you like Elijah but it's too religious, how about Elias? Sounds kind of like Silas, which I know you like (though I guess the -s ending presents the same problem).

36
July 2, 2010 7:53 PM

Ditto on what emilyrae and hyz said about Elliott. I can be a little flexible on the ending T but definitely 2L's. As one who frequently has to spell her name, I have also become increasingly pleased to be asked how to spell it in recent years. So yes Jane MO5, I agree that the new crop of children may not experience as many difficulties as EVERYONE will be asked to spell their name.
Other spelling preferences that have been brought up:
Colin (but never pronounced Coe-lynn like Colin Powell) it is Coll-in but the 2 L's look odd in that name

Connor; Juliet (yes I think of Shakespeare the other is too frilly); Phillip (2 L's + 1 P); Mabel (that is the "correct" way); Allison (but only to get to the Ally nn if I were using it)
I would probably ask if I were the teacher or whatever just meeting these people/names mostly because of my own experiences.

Other thought about the triplets: Some people reference the babies in utero by saying Baby A, B, C so I thought what if you stuck with those initials (some parents do) so here's what I came up with:
A-Alexander Steven or Alyssa Nicole
B-Brian Elliott or Bianca Celeste
C-Connor Phillip or Claire Irelyn
I personally would not use A names though with my LN and would change to J's: Jeffrey Maxwell and Jessica Noelle
That was infinitely fun and difficult. Now I need to do the other letters on my own.

37
By HMF not signed in (not verified)
July 2, 2010 8:17 PM

For what it's worth — probably not much — my first association with the "Elliott" spelling is the late singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. After he died, I read a lot of tributes to Elliot Smith and Eliot Smith, which always bothered me...

But I shouldn't be too pedantic, should I? I just checked out his Wikipedia and learned, for the very first time, that his given name was, in fact, Steven Paul Smith. I quote:

"After graduation, Smith began calling himself 'Elliott,' saying that he thought 'Steve' sounded too much like a 'jock' name, and that 'Steven' sounded 'too bookish'. According to friends, he had also used the pseudonym 'Elliott Stillwater-Rotter' during his time in the band Murder of Crows. Biographer S. R. Shutt speculates that it was either inspired by Elliott Avenue, a street that Smith had lived on in Portland, or that it was suggested by his then-girlfriend. A junior high acquaintance of Smith speculates that it was so as not to be confused with Steve Smith, the drummer of Journey."

I like how the double-l is echoed in "Stillwater" and the double-t in "Rotter."

38
By Beth the original (not verified)
July 2, 2010 10:17 PM

I love the name Elliott (two t's for me, or else Eliot). It's got a staunch if somewhat un-PC Puritan history (John Eliot, missionary to the Indians, examiner in Anne Hutchison's witchcraft trial).

I supposed it's gotten a bit "girled" by all the "Elle" names for girls, but I love "El" names, Eloise, Eleanor, Eliot, even my own Elizabeth. I'm going to wait till they're not trendy anymore and then name a cat one of those names.

39
By Jenny also (not verified)
July 3, 2010 12:18 AM

Met a family from down the block yesterday and was stuck by the sweet girl sibset Lucy ( 3 yrs) and Pearl (newborn). Nice names that are "on trend" but will also stand the test of time, I think.

Could we ever do our "worst names and why" or is that just too likely to offend? I would LOVE to hear names my fellow NE pet peeves and vow not to take offense when my own children's names are listed.

40
By Jenny also (not verified)
July 3, 2010 12:27 AM

Alec: Sounds like ick
Jayden/Brayden/Zaden: nuf said
Landon and Mason; the n end just for n end sake?
Atticus; pretentious
Brooks: beyond pretentious
Cody/Corey/Bodey: fake western

Lindsay/Misty/Mitzy/Tiffany: too girlie for a grown up
Sydney: old man's name spelled like a young girl's name
Cassidy: fake western
Addison/Madison/Addisyn: enough already
MacKenzie; I really do know someone who named her dog this and then married a man whose daughter had the name. AND they call the girl and the dog by the same name!! I hope they are saving up, the therapy bills will be substantial.

41
July 3, 2010 1:26 AM

There are so many things that I wanted to say about names in Quebec and alternate spellings for commong names, but I'm sleepy, so right now I will simply mention that in 2008, in Quebec, a baby boy was given the name Ellliot.
1 T
3 Ls.

You can't make this stuff up...

42
By Gee70 (not verified)
July 3, 2010 3:01 AM

Jenny also -

I also hate Atticus (and Harper or Harper Lee). It's not so much that I hate the names. But why are the same three books always used to name kids? Is it supposed to make you sound smrt? Didn't nearly everyone like To Kill A Mocking Bird when reading it in skool? It's not like you're naming your kid Anais.

Plus Atticus is a horrible name for a girl. Seriously? There's not another character you can name after? Hester Prynne or Pearl? Moll Flanders? Sophia Weston? Agnes Wickfield? .....

I also hate the name Ethan, but I know it's a perfectly good name. Nice even. It's just that every other baby boy I heard about for 4 years was named this. Now things have spread out a bit. Lots of Ashers, Samuels, Maxs etc... But no one hit to annoy me.

I don't see a lot of the "i/yden" names. So they don't annoy me so much. I even like Hayden (I know, I know)

Cohen - Anyone with occasion to enter a synagogue should know better.

Any name for a girl that means pretty. Shayna, Belle etc... (Sorry all you Belle girls... but some of you will be plain). IMO you don't name your kid Genuis, Beautiful or Popular.

What I really despise is people who defend their kid's name by saying the child loves his or her name. (Unless your child is 35!) A 5 year old doesn't have the perspective to judge Catcher. And by the time you are older, it's too hard to hate on your own name. But yes - Catcher is a horrible horrible name. If you need to defend your kid's name than you know you did something wrong.

There's lots of names I do like.

For girls
Classics (Of course) and botanicals...

I also seem to like 'ine' names for girls. Pauline, Maxine. My MIL was so "helpful" as to suggest that we use Paula instead of Pauline for the girl middle name. (I had a boy).

For boys - I like classic (even popular) names

Thomas, Paul, Alan (or is this fifties?) and I love John.

43
July 3, 2010 4:34 AM

re: Markell/Markel: How is it pronounced? Like Marco? It also reminds me of the name Marcail that someone was planning to use a few months ago.

MellyC: Although there's Colin Powell, I think I've heard of more Collins. Might be a good way to distance from Powell too, unless you are a big fan of his. Oh, I think Powell's name is also pronounced like "colon," right? The drink (and book? author?) Tom Collins might also be an argument for the familiarity of that spelling. Just realized that there's also Colin Firth.

Miriam and NJ: If I'm not mistaken, I think Stephen/Steven and Connor/Conor are not on this list because at least one of the names in each pair is already in the Top 1000--so they're not stealth.

re: Juliet vs. Juliette: I agree with the person who finds Juliet classier, but also with the person who finds Juliette more French. And this seems strange to me because it seems we (Americans) tend to find France classy. Is this an exception because Juliet=Shakespeare and Juliette=Lewis? Or is Juliette only pseudo-French? Or maybe we've come around to thinking that finding French classy is passe so that Juliette strikes us as pseudo-French?

val_jean: i'm curious if it was in a particular community where you came across KJ and TJ.

oh, i also have to tell you all that my neighbor's dog (something big, i think maybe a pit bull/lab mix) is named Eleanor! and i know this because one of the owners (a 20- or 30-something man) was calling her by her full name! i thought people would name their dogs ellie rather than eleanor. my husband finds it especially endearing. (and i'm excited to see his inner name nerd coming out!)

Jenny also: You crack me up. My views on a lot of those names are very different from yours, but I definitely see where you are coming from!

Gee70: I think your list of other literary names kind of makes it clear why Atticus and Harper appeal; the others you list are such a different style! I bet a lot of other literary names seem too old-fashioned to people. I actually know an English major (also with MA, focus in creative writing I think) with a daughter named Harper. I find it interesting given your critique (and I think I've heard a similar critique from others so I def don't mean to single you out).

And do you really know someone named Catcher!? Eek.

I def know what you mean about names being everywhere too. I still really and honestly like the name Aiden, but so many people have used the name. It needs to stop.

44
July 3, 2010 5:38 AM

One trend I don't like is inventing spellings. See Duggar, Jinger. And it's ten times worse for names that have meaning attached to a spelling. (Faith > Fayth, Cadence > Kaydence, Dakota > Dacoda (I saw a messageboard post where someone was considering "Dacoda Lee" just so they could use "Cody" as a nickname. I don't know if they did though.))

Nevaeh is really bad like that. It's hard to say, hard to spell and has no obvious nicknames, but it has the hidden meaning thing. Even Neveah is still an anagram of heaven, but Nevayah?

(No offense to people who have chosen these names. I just don't see why re-spelling is so great.)

45
July 3, 2010 5:40 AM

Oh yes, brief addition to the initial names thing: I remember reading about 3 teenage sisters who had kids within about a year of each other. Lita, Amani (although her father was Asian) and T-Jay.

46
By Beth the original (not verified)
July 3, 2010 9:34 AM

As someone who has offended by saying that Atticus, Harper, Scout, and Holden suggest parents who stopped reading after high school, I'm pleased not to be alone. But I'm highly supportive of book names in general -- just tired of these three, which seem to have overtaken my neighborhood. I'm waiting to meet the Ahabs, Dimmesdales, Linwoods, Brontes, Tesses, and so on, though it's a pity so many literary heroines are doomed.

When I was about five, we lived near Logan Street. And for some inexplicable reason I just loathed the sound of "Logan." I'd sit in the back seat saying "Logan-Logan-Logan" in this mincing voice, making faces and gagging noises. I didn't know anyone with the name, and it didn't have associations of any kind for me. I just hated the clash of the liquid "l," the hard "g" and long "o" and swallowed "a," the stupid and pointless "n." Not that I could have explained that, but I remember the sound of the word making me shudder. Anyone else have such odd sensory reactions to names?

RobynT, I had a golden lab named Eleanor! Eleanor Retrieve-a-velt was her full name.

47
July 3, 2010 10:59 AM

i have to admit, i am one of those that is...perhaps not offended, but surprised and a little baffled that people have such strong reactions against atticus and/or harper. i don't find them at all pretentious and/or pseudo intellectual. for perspective's sake, this is coming from a literature major who definitely did not stop reading after high school or even after college. however, i can understand the logical steps beth describes (i.e. yes, many people had to read to kill a mockingbird in high school, it's very possible that this is the most "intellectual" book some people have ever read, etc), i just find that i don't feel this way. besides, regardless of whether to kill a mockingbird is pseudo-intellectual or not...it's a good book, and atticus finch is a good character (in my opinion)...so i guess i think that even if it were pseudo-intellectual, this doesn't matter.

also, gee70, i'm confused: do you know girls named atticus? according to beyond the top 1000, 414 boys were named atticus last year, but it doesn's show up for girls. it sounds quite masculine to me...

i do agree with beth though that i'd love to see *more* literary names.

as far as personal taste goes, i'd never use harper (for the most part, i don't love surnames as first names), but i might consider using atticus. but i'd be pleased to meet a little boy or girl with either name.

48
July 3, 2010 11:22 AM

Beth-Eleanor Retrieve-a-velt is hilarious!!

Jenny also-While some names that I hear both on people in my area and on this board are SO not my style and something I would never consider naming a child, I am extremely hesitant to actually tell someone their names are awful. Some of the names you mentioned for girls I actually like. Lindsay has always been a favorite and Sydney is okay. I like the sound of Aiden but would probably not actually use it. The only one that really does grate on me in Nevaeh. However, I don't actually know of any IRL or even on this board. I think the feelings towards a name differ if you know say 15 on your local block as opposed to never having encountered it at all except in print. Also, if someone close to you is named something you get a different feeling than say some actress you have no actual connection to.

By the way, I took 2 hrs to compose an alphabetical list for both boys and girls with FN+MN last night. It was a fun challenge. Anyone with some free time on their hands should give it a try. I filled every letter with mostly names I would actually use and tried not to repeat or rhyme or anything. X,Y and U did cause some trouble.

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By HMF not signed in (not verified)
July 3, 2010 11:31 AM

Names I hate? I hate many names. But I also try not to get too overwhelmed by it — I refuse to register anything more than mild antipathy for what Laura calls "bell tone" names, for instance, which I by and large find insubstantial. However, a few months ago I heard tell of a baby girl with an *abrasive* bell tone name... one that actually made me wince.

That name?

Braylee.

(Just as a comparison: Brayden? Eh. Whatever. Neither here nor there. Kaylee? Likewise. But somehow... Braylee... just set off a fire alarm for me. Ugly on the page, ugly when said aloud.)

I also remembered a name I hated when I was in elementary school, as I thought it the "girliest" (what we might now call "frilliana"-ist) name of all time: Valentina. Valentina and Braylee. Now that would be a pair of sisters!

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By billl (not verified)
July 3, 2010 12:30 PM

names and categories i don't like

occupations (usually obsolete ones):
Cooper, Carter, Parker, Taylor, Tanner, Tyler, Mason (i'll throw Connor in here too)

places, or names that should be places:
Colton, Austin, Preston, Brooklyn, Kensington, Carrington, Ireland(-lyn(n)), Scotlyn. i went to elementary school with a Germani3.

Brandon, Brennan, Brendan, Brianna (any variation of these, but most dislike directed toward brandon)
(somehow i think Brian is ok, Bryan less so)

Skyler (Schuyler is acceptable)

the add-a-lyns: Daylin, Jaylin...

and -aidens

the catcher-mockingbird set

the bell tones

Braxton

stuff like Jaxson

Diahann

There was a girl named Breck3n

pin-pen merger mishaps: Kyndal

fad syllable smushes: McKaylin

obvious surnames

and i am just really tired of Katie

so much dislike, so little time