Pet Name Trends: The Changing Names of Cats and Dogs

Mar 1st 2012

I was recently given the best kind of name-geek treat: a peek at a whole new data set. Vetstreet.com mined its records to find the dog and cat names that have risen and fallen the most in popularity over the past decade. (You can read Vetstreet's report on the rising and falling names, including comments from me, on their site.)

I've seen other lists of popular pet names, and even compiled some myself. It's clear that pet names are increasingly chosen from the world of human names, with Max and Lucy supplanting Spot and Fluffy. But looking at the specific names that are trending up and down is revealing -- about how we view our pets, and about how we view different kinds of names. Looking at the Vetstreet trends as a whole, here are some of the big themes I see:

Which Animals Are Most Human?

Both research and intuition suggest that giving an animal a human-style name generally points toward a more human-style role for the pet in the family. Based on names, then, dogs are treated as more human than cats. (Supporting this idea: the phrase "my dog is my baby" yields four times as many Google results as "my cat is my baby.")

That difference used to be a huge one, with descriptive names like Snowball and Patches and cat-specific names like Tigger and Tabby dominating the feline arena. Since the year 2000, though, the dog-cat gap has narrowed dramatically. If you look at the top 10 names for male and female cats today, 14 of the 20 are also common human names. For dogs, the number is 15 of 20. The fastest-falling cat name list is packed with names like Whiskers, Tiger and Miss Kitty, while the rising names include Henry, Stella and Zoey. Watch your backs, dogs, the cats are on the move.

Pet Sex Discrimination?

The narrowing cat-dog gap looks like a move toward pet equality, but a new gap is rising -- a gender gap. I was fascinated to see that female pet names are trending human much faster than male pet names. The numbers in the previous paragraph showed that 72.5% of the top pet names are common human names. That turns out to break down to 50% of male names, 95% of female.

What's more, single-sex pet names are soaring. The fast-falling names are full of unisex classics like Snowball, Lucky, Whiskers, Pepper and Shadow. The fast-rising names names are almost all sex-specific. In fact, for dogs even the hot non-human names are ultra-macho ones like Diesel, Tank and Thor. Apparently, we want to be secure in our dogs' masculinity.

Looking Past Looks

There's another way to read the movement from Snowball and Shadow toward Diesel and Thor. It's a movement away from physical descriptions of pets, toward names that indicate  personalities or roles. That's yet another sign that pets are viewed more and more as companions and individuals. It's telling, I think, that despite the powerful trend toward human names, Buddy is challenging Max for the #1 spot among dogs' names.

Following Human Name Trends

Here's a graph of the human popularity of the fastest-rising female dog names, made with the NameVoyager Expert Edition:

and the fastest-falling female dog names:

It makes sense that as pet names become more human, they'll increasingly reflect baby name trends. I predict an explosion of pet/baby name conflicts, as more and more couples give their favorite names to their dogs, only to wish for those names back when the time comes to name a child.

Which Names Are Most Animal?

Human names may be going to the dogs, but not all human names. (Have you ever heard "These are our dogs, Kenneth and Jeanette"?) The hottest pet names today are what I call the "Guys and Dolls" names in the Baby Name Wizard book. These are the fun-loving old timer names like Max, Charlie, Lucy and Molly. The Guys and Dolls are popular for human babies too, but a slew of them utterly dominate the pet name space. They're cozy and approachable, perfect for a relationship of simple, unconditional love.

Some of the most popular examples for pets are the choices that push to the style extreme. Among these are ultra-feminine and ultra-masculine names: Lola, Daisy, Lulu; Rocky, Hank, Bruno. To me, that suggest that parents have a major yen for that kind of name but worry about giving them to their children. Pets are the perfect outlet for your naming fantasies.

The other big human name style for pets is preppy surnames. Again, though, not all of them. Preferred surnames for pets end in -er (Tucker, Cooper, Piper) or -y (Bailey, Riley, Brody), but NOT the top human ending -n (Grayson, Landon, Ashton). For that, I have no easy explanation, though it intuitively feels right. Any thoughts, baby name nation?

Comments

1
By Lolatron (not verified)
March 1, 2012 1:40 PM

Uh oh, those "Guys and Dolls" names are my favorite names for kids! (and myself!) Do you think this rise in popularity will mean they'll fall in favor as human names?

2
By Allison W (not verified)
March 1, 2012 1:43 PM

I have two dogs: Marcel & Oscar.
Three cats: Henry, Sasha & Delilah (Our Luna passed not long ago).

My mother's dogs are Watson, Trixie and Belle. My in-law's have Monet and Madeline.

Our pets are our family, so it only reasons that they get faimly-style names!

3
March 1, 2012 1:59 PM

Wow...a lot of stuff to think about. I have noticed the trend. I don't think I follow it myself...I was the kid who named a pet cricket "George" and named the rabbit in the garden "Peter Rabbit" The lizard with the blue tale "Sky Tale" and so on and so on.

I think people are getting more creative with their pet names for sure (aside from horses)dog names fascinate me the most. "Missus" being the strangest one. I also like hearing stories about the names my mother gave her birds as a child. There's a lot to think about when it comes to pet names...

4
By RLJ (not verified)
March 1, 2012 2:03 PM

As teenagers with the assistance of our parents, my brother and I bred toy poodles. Naming the puppies was fun, but Dad had a firm "no people name" rules. Which meant common human names. So no Katie, but Nixie, Bartholomew, and Brewster were accepted. We also had Omega, Mortimer, Nugget and Monroe. Our pet names were anything but boring.

I kinda got my dad's point when I meant a person whose cat shared my name. And worst, the name of her son's girlfriend. (The son wanted the cat's name changed at that point.)

5
By livi (not verified)
March 1, 2012 2:16 PM

I think not giving pet names ending in has to do with how we call our animals. "Luuu-cyyyy" or "Coooo-perrr" sounds better hollered out than "Laaan-donnnn"

And so true about giving pets names we like, but wouldn't want to give to a child. I named one cat Mercutio, having loved it since the first time I read Romeo and Juliet. However, I never wanted to burden a child with that name.

6
By Amy3
March 1, 2012 2:49 PM

@zoerhenne, looks like you won't have to worry about your Lucky, should you be lucky enough to get him/her, sharing a name with others at the dog park!

And I actually do know a Chihuahua named Kenneth. (Big ears ... What's the frequency, Kenneth?)

7
March 1, 2012 3:35 PM

hi everyone,

i just wanted to pop in to say a few things (which will likely turn into many things as i type)..

my very dear friends recently had their first child:
Ruby Jean
(jean is a family name)

Also, I know someone who is pregnant with twin girls (and who has overcome many very scary complications in the course of the pregnancy, now at 31.5 weeks), and they've chosen the names Katherin3 Annett3 and Winifr3d Estell3. the best part is that they're calling them Kat and Winnie. :]

also, i wanted to give a HUGE congrats to pennyx. i'm so so happy for you. i am still pulling for ursula if it is a girl because i adore it. every time you mention your mother and sister, i get really cross because, to me, it's really rude to express open dislike for a name one is considering for their child. but they are your family and i'm sure they meant well. my feeling is (as others have stated), they'll get over it when there's a little baby to love. i also like both simon and xavier, giving a slight edge to simon because as much as i like xavier, i try to avoid names that have multiple pronunciations.

oh, and i thought you might want to see this:
http://cristinabarton.co.uk/blog/2011/05/newborns/emilys-maternity-and-b...

i've heard that when people are considering fairly unusual names, it helps to see a little baby with the name.

it's still hard for me to see sylvie as a full name, and i greatly prefer sylvia, but i know that's just my own personal hangup.

also, lately, i've really been liking frederick, august, and oliver as a set. (alternately fred, gus, and ollie, for short. :] )

8
By hyz
March 1, 2012 3:41 PM

Wow, a new data set is exciting! I see from their site that they looked at nearly 1 million dogs born in 2011--that's nothing to sneeze at! I wonder where they got so much info.

Re: the preference for -er and -ey surnames over -son/-don surnames for pets, my guess is that the former are more similar to traditional pet names, while the latter may have too much of a formal/preppy feel still. For instance, I knew dogs and horses 20+ years ago named Tugger, Digger, Baxter, Thatcher, Joker, Cooper, Rooter, Dancer--these are action and occupation names, so whereas at least some of these may formerly have been part of the descriptive naming trend for pets, now they just "sound right" for pets but are increasingly humanized. Same for the -ey names--they just sound cute and diminutive, so I think Chloe, Zoe, Riley, and Bailey may be the new Sunny, Misty, Sandy, and Brandy. I just don't think the -don/-son names have this kind of analog in traditional pet names.

Oh, and now I feel a bit bad that our two dogs fit the gender stereotype--the girl has a standard human name, the boy does not. In my defense, though, DH picked the boy name. :)

I love this post, and have so many thoughts on it, but I'll stop there for now!

9
March 1, 2012 4:04 PM

hyz wrote: "Oh, and now I feel a bit bad that our two dogs fit the gender stereotype--the girl has a standard human name, the boy does not. In my defense, though, DH picked the boy name. :)"

I was think about this as I wrote the post...I would LOVE to see pet name stats broken out by male and female pet owners! Diesel, for instance, strikes me as a dog name most likely to be chosen by men.

10
By hyz
March 1, 2012 4:08 PM

hi emilyrae :) Your comment about Fred, Gus, and Ollie (and Ursula) made me remember something. I recently told another mom that we had considered using August for Oliver, but that it was knocked out of contention by the middle name, and her reaction was, "August? For a boy?" Hmmm. It was such a funny response to me, because August is pretty clearly boy to me. Maybe this is why I don't usually discuss our possible name choices with people IRL. Oh well, it's still next on our list if another boy does come along... :) Oh, and I'm glad to hear another vote for Sylvia--I was getting to feel like the odd bird out. ;)

Love Ruby, Kat, and Winnie!

11
By hyz
March 1, 2012 4:15 PM

Laura, I definitely agree! Diesel, Ruger, Gunner, etc. are not your average female choice (although I'm sure there are exceptions)--even if I were looking for a very masculine dog name, I'd be more likely to go with one of the mythological, fictional, or historical figures (e.g. Thor, Conan, Brutus) than pick a name overtly based on machinery or weaponry.

12
March 1, 2012 4:33 PM

oh, wow, hyz, add that to my already lengthy list of reasons to not share name choices with people. august is DEFinitely boy. very odd, indeed.

ah, don't feel like an odd bird! you are definitely not alone. i keep trying to tell myself that sylvie is a french full name, but sylvia just seems like the fuller, more complete, and more serious choice (although i do think that sylvie is an adorable and charming nickname that i would definitely take advantage of). i seem to be pretty consistent in this (for example, i much prefer julia over julie, sophia over sophie, etc).

oh, and i don't know if you plan on having more children, but have you considered the name silas? (and if you've already mentioned it here, forgive my poor memory.) it comes, i think, from the same root as sylvia, meaning the woods. i remembered that you liked sylvia, and silas fits with oliver to me.

oh, and i agree: i'd be much more apt to choose something like brutus over diesel.

13
By hyz
March 1, 2012 4:59 PM

emilyrae, you're right on the money--Silas might actually be my absolute favorite boy name, period, but I just can't get past how it sounds with DH's last name--it just doesn't work, and that makes me sad. I considered Sylvan instead, but DH objected because of Sylvan Learning Centers. That was actually the roundabout route that helped lead us to Sylvia (or Silvia, which DH prefers--we'll have to work that out if/when the time comes). I definitely think Sylvia feels like the more full and serious choice, but I guess that's what some people don't like about it--Great Aunt Sylvia was probably pretty full and serious, too, while sweet Sylvie is light and pretty. I personally like Sylvia's substance, though, and having the option to use Sylvie as a nn--it's obviously not so easy to go the other way (full name Sylvie, nn Sylvia). Anyway, Sylvie as a full name is not really an option for us, having the same ending as Ivy, but I think I wouldn't mind it as a nn. Oh, and yes, we are generally hoping to have one or two more kids--probably just one, but I like to mentally keep open the option of having one more of each so that we get to use all our agreed-upon names. ;)

14
March 1, 2012 5:03 PM

I've always fell in the category of pets getting non-human names. Even as a child all my pets had non-human names. Not because they aren't a huge part of the family, and treated like children but I liked the opportunity to give them unusual names I'd never use on a person. In the future, once I've finished having kids I may have to use some of the favourite unused baby names on pets :)

My grandparents are cattle breeders and I used to provide lists of names for them to pick from when naming all the new calves. They like 'human' names but they had to be short (max 5 letters) to be able to fit easily on the ear tags. The potential stud males used to get the most macho names like Brutus, Thor etc.

@hyz, August is totally male to me. It's also on our boys name list. I would be surprised to meet a female August, especially since there is the very lovely Augusta as an alternative.

Oh and Silas (along with August) are in the top 5 of my boy names. We definitely share the same taste :)

15
March 1, 2012 5:15 PM

Our previous cat had a "preppy surname" name that ended in N - Newton. He was named for Sir Isaac Newton. Originally we were going to name him Einstein, as he was not the brightest feline on the planet, but we ended up feeling like that was too sarcastic. Newton was the fall-back. Yeah, he wasn't that sharp, but he was affable and liked everybody.

As a kid, I named a chicken Hercules and another Atlas. They were both hens, but I was on a Greek mythology kick. Atlas was eaten by a coyote, so she wasn't as gnarly as her name suggests.

16
March 1, 2012 5:49 PM

Random thoughts:
I feel like it makes more sense to give pets trait names rather than human names. Although, I could totally see some breeds of dogs (Great Dane, Bulldog, Poodle)getting human names that I would never actually use on a human, like Marmaduke, Brutus/Bruno, and Fifi. I think more
-ey ending names are used because they are cute. One normally considers the child as an eventual grown-up and names accordingly.

I think a pet named Deisel or Gunner is definitely belonging to a male owner. The two movies (The Truth About Cats + Dogs, and Must Love Dogs) are great and the names of the dogs in them are Hank-a Great Dane/Mastiff and Mother Teresa-a Newfoundland.

Amy3-I have also been thinking about Molly as a puppy name because it will most likely be a girl.

*waves to emilyrae*-nice to "see" you again

hyz-I wouldn't think you could do ANY S names unless they were in the mn spot. I like August or maybe Evan/Everett because I know you like those V's.

17
By mtj2287 (not verified)
March 1, 2012 7:32 PM

I actually really dislike the trend of giving pets human names. (Sorry if I'm echoing other people's comments. I'm on my phone right now, and it's difficult reading through each and every comment.) I love animals, and I've had pets my entire life who I've loved dearly, but people calling their pets their babies or children, or referring to themselves as "pet parents" is just a bit too sad and creepy for my tastes. I know that not everyone who refers to their pets (or to themselves) in this way is some strange person who can't tell the difference between people and animals, but it still bothers me for some reason. I guess that's why I've always had pets with names like Finch or Midnight or Simba.

18
March 1, 2012 8:31 PM

Turns out my name, Sophie, is a pretty popular one for pets as well as kids these days. It was in the 800s of popularity when I was born, so it's weird to me to hear it more and more these days.

I think about pet names a lot because I foster kittens, so I'm always having to come up with a new batch of names for a new litter. I'm also fascinated by the foster/rescue blogs I read and how those bloggers name THEIR kittens and cats. Some go by a theme, and I've done that too, like "spices": kittens named Clove, Coriander, Sage, etc. One blogger has a pregnant cat expecting a litter that will be named after awards: Tony, Hugo, Peabody, etc. Some just throw a bunch of names at them and see what fits, even changing a name if they find one that fits the cat better. But some, like Laurie of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, use human names, complete with last names for each litter. I can actually see Laurie naming cats Kenneth and Jeanette (in fact, there is a Kenneth on her site already), although cats can take a little more "fancy" in their names than dogs.

For my own pets I tend to prefer really ostentatious names that seem like too much to saddle a kid with. My cat's name is Hypatia, although technically my roommate thought of that one. I also like Eugenides, Zipporah, Theophania, things like that. I mean, if you can't have fun with names when naming your pets, when can you?

19
March 1, 2012 8:55 PM

mtj2287-I think there is a difference between the treatment of pets in a human way i.e. calling them your babies, dressing them up, etc. and the naming of pets a human name. I think they can be two separate things.

ETA:Thanks notemily for those kitty blogs which I have now bookmarked :) and yes I can totally see the one naming a kitty Kenneth. I prefer the themes though. The award theme is hysterical.

20
By Foghorn O'Kalashnikov (not verified)
March 1, 2012 9:31 PM

We have a ton of Brodys, Izzys and Bellas at my local doggy park in Toronto. Multiple dogs with each name, which is funny, the owners of new pups are kind of sheepish when they realize they're following a trend :) I have one dog with a people name (in homage though) and one without - they're called Lemon and Roy Keane.

I spend a lot of time around dogs and actually had a horrible moment a while back when I ALMOST said to a coworker "wow, that's a dog name!" when she introduced her son. Held my tongue though :)

21
March 1, 2012 10:54 PM

I thought my neighbors, the Smiths, had chosen the most generic cat name ever: Black Kitty Smith. But apparently they should have gone with Max to achieve that goal. :),

Foghorn, maybe my son's first grade classmates, Buddy and Thor, were named after dogs! I supposed I shouldn't point their parents to this post.

22
March 2, 2012 12:44 AM

We've had a mix of name sources for our cats over the years, but most of them were of the strictly-feline type (in Hungarian). The two exceptions were Bence and Blanka. Bence is currently the top boy's name in Hungary, and I've been introduced to two little girls called Blanka in the past year. I *somehow* managed to hold my tongue about our cat both times...

My best friend has many cats (six, currently), and if other factors don't intervene, she names them in alphabetical order with human names that were current in medieval England.

23
By Panya (not verified)
March 2, 2012 2:04 AM

Our dogs are named Poe and Pip. Poe's parents were my gramma's dog Punkin and the neighbour's dog Prince [for curiosity's sake, Punkin is orange-colored, and Prince was owned by a young man], so I wanted a /P/ name to match theirs. Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" is my favorite poem, and his other works are seen as scary, so I thought Poe would be a good name for a dog born in Octobre to a mother named Punkin. When Pip was born I wanted another one-syllable name, and since I'm Panya, another /P/ name seemed appropriate. I simply searched for names fitting those criteria and found Pip and Pim. I'd not heard of Pim before, so I was delighted that it could be a nickname for my husband William! That cemented Pip as the new puppy's name.

I'm a 'human-names-on-pets' person, and I find it funny that most people wouldn't think of Poe and Pip as being names they'd hear on a person.

My brother's dogs're Blondie and Pretty, both girls. He had a hamster in middle school that he named Princess Cleopatra of [name of city where we were born]. That quickly morphed into us calling her Gertie [via baby-talk "girly"].

I think it's hilarious that he named his current dog Pretty, because I've always thought that if I had a female dog I'd name her Perdita and call her Perdie [of course, another way people say Pretty/priddy].

24
By P Starling (not verified)
March 2, 2012 4:03 AM

Hmm. I renamed a rescue dog in 2007--he had been Wilson, and is now Max. This worked great until I married a man named Max, so now we have Max-dog and Max-husband.

I can totally see naming a dog Diesel, too. I wish I had thought of it for our small black Pooter. The meaning would be the same, but Diesel is a little more elegant.

25
By Ken Brown (not verified)
March 2, 2012 9:17 AM

"Thor" a non-human name? Maybe someone shoudl have told Thor Heyerdahl!

26
By hyz
March 2, 2012 11:40 AM

Chimu, I think we're definitely simpatico, and for the record, I think Soren and Astrid are perfect together. Very strongly scandinavian, of course, but in an approachable way (not like picking Bjørn and Gudrun, or something).

zoerhenne, I assume you're thinking of the alliteration issue with S names? I can go both ways on alliteration, but in this case I like it--I think especially that a 3 syl. S first name with a 1 syl. S last name is kind of flowy and catchy. This makes me like both Sylvia and Solomon (and even Susannah) a lot with the last name. The funny thing is, I asked DH if the alliteration bothered him, and he didn't see why it should even be a consideration. His FN also starts with S, and he never gave it a moment's thought. And honestly, until we had that conversation, I hadn't either. I think there are some sounds where it definitely doesn't work (I wouldn't do Shawn Schultz or Theodore Thornton), but I feel like it can be done well (e.g. James Joyce, Walt Whitman, Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sarandon, January Jones, etc.).

27
By Angela Dawn (not verified)
March 2, 2012 11:45 AM

I have noticed that in the past some outside the mainstream human names became more acceptable for pets, and then made their way back to humans as people started looking for more unusual names for their kids.

The first name to come back was Max, which is now almost equally popular on little boys and dogs, and now I see people reconsidering Rufus for their kids, which I think is great. I feel it's a shame that such a great name with classic roots like Rufus was taken over by dogs.

I love dogs and cats, but I don't understand the trend towards using human names for them.

28
By Rebekah (not verified)
March 2, 2012 11:45 AM

I had to laugh a little at the pet-name regret scenario. We have two cats: Alice & Cora, named for the sisters in "The Last of the Mohicans." We'd had them only a few months when I got pregnant with our first child and my husband and I had several conversations about what great names they were and how much we wished it wouldn't be completely weird to give our kid the same name as one of the cats.

I'm now pregnant for the second time -- due to deliver any day! -- and the subject came up again this time around. We love our cats (and their names), but there have been moments when, as you said, we wished we could have those names back.

This topic always makes me think of the line at the end of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:" "We named the dog 'Indiana.'"

29
March 2, 2012 11:52 AM

Well yeah hyz, I was speaking about the alliteration and yes it can be done well at times. I actually am a former S alliterater(?) myself with both names beginning with S/T. 2syl then 1. At times I didn't mind it but at others I did. For you I actually don't mind Solomon S but there is just something about Sylvie/Sylvia that makes it more sing-songy or rhymey and this turns me off from thinking about any other S names. I wouldn't do Susannah either. But-its just me-so carry on.

30
By hyz
March 2, 2012 12:10 PM

zoerhenne, it can certainly be a little sing-songy -- maybe it brings to mind Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, who would not take the garbage out? ;) I wouldn't go *that* far with alliteration, but it IS fun to say! :) And thinking of your situation, I would probably not repeat two initial sounds, like Brianna Brady or Steven Stone--it could be a great Hollywood name, but a little too noticeable for my taste. I think the alliteration should fade into the background a bit, but whether it does or not is probably a matter of personal opinion, to some extent.

31
By Amy3
March 2, 2012 4:09 PM

I mentioned some of this on the last thread, but pets I've had have largely been given human names (some more stereotypical pet names appear, though).

Dogs - Claudia, Agatha (nn Aggie), Sox, Susie
Cats - Patches, Ben, Abner, Chloe, Sadie
Fish - Jeff, Mutt, Siouxsie Sioux
Hamsters - Frowny, Scamper, Blondie
Guinea pigs - Charles, Margaret

When I was younger I really liked the idea of human names on pets. Now I'd be all for bestowing pet names. I love the idea of a dog named Fido, for example. I've never actually met one.

32
March 2, 2012 7:10 PM

@hyz, I also like some of the S names with your surname. Solomon S.. sounds good to me. Sylvia S... Is a little sing songy for me too but not to bad. I also quite like Susannah S..

I'm glad you like Soren and Astrid too. I think my top contenders for boys names are August, Cormac, Soren, Silas, Casper and possible Vaughan or Alasdair. I have others on the list but they are the ones I come back to. Girls names I think I still have all the not used names from Astrid plus maybe Saskia or Octavia which are new contenders. Not that there will be a #2 for awhile but it's nice to plan!

33
By Amy3
March 2, 2012 7:12 PM

@hyz, I also like many S names with your husband's LN. I agree the 3-syllable ones tend to sound less S heavy so Solomon, Sylvia, and Susannah are all good to my ear.

@Chimu, love all the boy names you listed. Can't wait until you really do have a #2 to name!

34
March 2, 2012 11:32 PM

I've never had a pet but there are several animals in my extended family and the style of their names evolved as the children got older. One set of cousins had a bird ("Popcorn") and a guinea pig ("Oreo") before convincing their parents to get a dog (a goldendoodle). His name is Calvin, so called because the Hebrew word for dog, kelev, is written in Hebrew as klv (plus the diacritic dots). That's an example of a descriptive name (how much more simple can you get than "dog"?) that was used to inspire a human name.

Actually, another cousin has a dog named Lyla, who got her name because that is the word for "night" in Hebrew and the dog, a German shepherd, has a lot of black in her colouring. This same cousin had a dog (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) when she was young who was named Bandit for the black mask in his colouring, and a hamster named Fluffy.

Finally, I have another cousin who named her Cavalier Emmett after Doc Brown in Back to the Future. Her childhood hamster was named Lexi.

Looking over the family, I guess all current pets have people names, and, while I have no plans to acquire any pets, if I did, I'm sure that I would use human names. I'd probably pick names that I wouldn't give to children, either stylistically or because they don't sound good with my husband's last name... Although I did really love the spice-themed names mentioned above, so who knows!

(While it's not quite the same as pets, my car is named Barnabus, my husband's laptop is named Frederick, and his Kindle is named Vladimir. Does that count?)

35
March 2, 2012 11:53 PM

I keep forgetting to mention my fish that I had in college. I always got two at a time so I had Fred + Barney, and Tom + Jerry. Yes, they were named after cartoons. What does it mean when an animal gets named after another human named cartoon animal?

36
March 3, 2012 12:26 AM

Emilyrae - Thank you so much for the congratulations! I was so impatient to be far enough along to let you all know.

I'm hoping my mother and sister will get over their Ursula prejudice. I think they're both too influenced by Disney, frankly. It's so funny, because it's really pretty-sounding and lilting to my ear.

Hyz - I tend to think alliteration works better with some letters than with others. I think a double S can be really nice. A double F - like with my DH's last name - would just end up being humorous, in my opinion...so Fiona and Felix could never be on our list.

Looking back, it seems like we had a mix of people and non-people names for our pets. We had a Woofer, a Trisket (like the cracker), and Smokey as dogs. When I was in high school I was on a Salinger kick, so had Salinger and Esme cats. In grad school, I had a goldfish named Jasper.

When I talk to DH about our future dog's name, we toss around Nemo and Gumbo equally, so again, split between human and non-human. I always thought Gertie would be a great dog name, too, in honor of Gertrude Stein.

37
March 3, 2012 7:05 AM

Karyn- I think device/car names count!

My favourite part of getting a new computer is giving it a name- my current computer is called Gertrude, my sister's is Cordelia. My previous computers have been called Winifred, Cecilia, and Hal. Since my parents now use Cecilia as their computer, the 'devices on the network' list is quite fun :)

The one thing is that Winifred and I had a productive, but fraught, partnership during my undergrad days...and I find myself liking the name more and more. But I really could not name a daughter (or even a dog) Winifred now, since when she (the computer) was slowly coming undone (and refusing to do things like boot, or charge), I would call her/it by name and say all sorts of uncomplimentary things about it/her in fairly strong language. It's a bit weird but I think I managed to create that sort of pet-human naming remorse with my cruddy cheapo HP laptop. Whoops!

38
March 3, 2012 7:14 AM

PennyX-I've just read the end of your comment after posting mine. My computer's not named in honour of Stein, but how funny that it came up twice in a row. I liked it as a computer name because the name's great, but like Bertha it's been used as a stock joke name for too long, too recently, to be a name I'd consider actually using for a child.

..though to be fair, I think it was my gramps who couldn't get over all the kids called Jason in my youngest uncle's grade, since when my grandfather was growing up it was a joke name along with Jeremiah and Percy :P

39
March 3, 2012 11:25 AM

I have a kitten named Icarus. It definitely falls in the "name fantasy" category!

40
March 3, 2012 12:35 PM

Blythe and PennyX-I think of Gertie as the character Drew Barrymore played in ET. I don't know if I could call a child Gertie w/o thinking of ET.

41
March 3, 2012 12:50 PM

Oh my... zoerhenne, does that mean that adorable little Gertie was named Gertrude? How did I never think about this?!

Blythe, that laptop story is hilarious. It's funny how you probably never anticipated your relationship with the name evolving the way it did when you named her.

42
March 3, 2012 10:23 PM

That's funny to think about. Gertie and Elliott were definitely an unusual sib-set for the time. Quirky parents, I guess.

43
March 3, 2012 11:52 PM

Gertie, Elliott, and Michael. They really *were* all over the place, eh?

44
March 4, 2012 12:07 AM

That would be a fun thread-TV and movie sibsets-do they really "go together"?

Marsha, Jan, Cindy + Greg, Peter, Bobby=yes
Sandra, Denise, Theo, Rudy=not sure
Mary, Laura, Carrie, Grace=yes

or even more fun-Can you guess the sitcom from the children's names?

45
March 4, 2012 2:02 PM

Zoerhenne,
That's too easy! Brady Bunch, Cosby (you left out Vanessa between Theo and Rudy), and Little House.

46
By phoebesmom (not verified)
March 4, 2012 9:14 PM

I definitely fall into the category of people who use farther out people names for pets than I would use for a child. Hence, we have Olive the Jack Russell, and our brand-new puppy Clancy, named for the Clancy in 'The Man from Snowy River' poem and movie. As for the 'S' alliteration convo up there, we have a last name beginning in 'S,' and have considered Sybil, Sylvie, and Susannah for another daughter. I think the harder consonants-T,B,P, etc., are the best for alliteration, but S sounds ok to me, as long as neither name is too lispy,

47
March 5, 2012 12:16 AM

I love picturing the kitten Icarus, by the way.

48
March 5, 2012 12:33 AM

Two shows each had a kid whose name bothered me (and oddly enough, both featured a character named D.J.)

On Full House, Donna Jo always sounded like such an unfashionable name to me, especially when paired with Stephanie and Michelle, two names that were very common among viewers who were the same age as the characters.

And on Roseanne, Darlene always felt so... uncool. Not precisely uncool, but more like it didn't belong on someone of her age. Or at least not to someone whose siblings were Rebecca and David... Rebecca ("Becky"), Darlene, and David Jacob ("D.J.")?

Both of those characters are approximately the same age and 5-6 years older than I am, and they just didn't feel like their names fit in with my peer group. Even as a little kid, this bugged me.

49
March 5, 2012 10:13 AM

Elizabeth T-I knew it was easy :) and I knew I was leaving someone out. Sorry Vanessa :(

Karyn-I never thought DJ on Full House was out of place. If I recall she was named after (or in tribute) to her mom. Darlene on Roseanne seemed appropriate because the character was supposed to be out of place a bit. Plus I always liked that name. I didn't really feel the person playing Becky actually LOOKED like a Becky so that was odd for me.

50
By Shocked guest (not verified)
March 5, 2012 3:11 PM

I have no comment on the dogs, but I just had to share that I met my first Nevaeh yesterday. And she was a forty-something grandmother. Yeah.