And Meanwhile, Down Deep In the Name Mines...
The most popular baby names are the ones that make the news. The real action, though, is deeper down the name list -- the names that are used dozens of times each year, not thousands. That's where you see parents' minds churning, watch the seeds of new hit names sprouting, and realize that names we think of as creative, unique, or even shocking are far from unheard of.
I've been reviewing thousands and thousands of these lesser-known names for the next edition of the Baby Name Wizard book. Wherever I let my eyes stop and linger, there are fascinating details. Here's a smattering of boys' names that have struck me in the past week. (The number next to each name is the number of newborns given that name in the U.S. in 2010.)
Ruger (64) : Rising fast, this name is more evidence of parents' increasing interest in naming children after firearms. Colt, Remington, and Gauge have all soared, and Gunner is much more common than the traditional name Gunnar. The name Stryker (67) has also taken off since the introduction of the army's Stryker armored fighting vehicle.
Osiris (68) : You know how Ryan helped make the name Orion seem usable? Well it seems that the resurgence of Cyrus is doing the same for Osiris, Egyptian god of the underworld. (A skateboarding sneaker name Osiris might have helped.) The familiar Greek underworld lord Hades barely makes a naming dent.
Axl (61) : Guns N' Roses went 15 years between albums, but they clearly weren't forgotten. The number of baby Axls has been slowly climbing. This name may be the answer if you're looking for a baby brother for little Zeppelin (24).
Jebediah (11) : No, there is no Jebediah in the bible. The name was created by the writers of "The Simpsons" for city founder Jebediah Springfield. It's been making appearances on the name charts ever since. (If you're thinking "then where does Jeb come from?" the answer is it's an occasional old-fashioned nicname for Jacob, or in the case of Jeb Bush, initials: John Ellis Bush.)