Obsessed with names? You're not alone.

Apr 5th 2012

I've been practicing Baby Name Wizardry for a decade now, and I've seen plenty of changes in name trends. One of the biggest trends isn't about the names themselves, but about the way we talk about them -- or rather, how much we talk about them. Name talk is everywhere. My peculiar obsession with names doesn't seem so peculiar any more.

That's the sense I've had, at least. But perhaps it's just my name's eye view talking? Let's take a look.

First stop: the New York Times archives. How many Times articles have used the phrase "baby names" in the past five years? Answer: 70. Looking ten years earlier (April 1997-April 2002), that number was just twelve.  "Baby naming" shows similar growth, while other baby phrases like "baby clothes" and "baby strollers" have held steady.

Next stop: Google's Ngram viewer, which allows historical searches of a massive collection of books. Check out the Ngram graph of the rate of occurrence of "baby names" and "baby naming" in English-language books in the 20th Century. A surge in both phrases started around 1980 and kept on growing. And their data only goes up to the year 2000. Anybody think that curve has gone anywhere but up since?

It makes sense that names are a hotter topic than ever before. After all, they're more diverse and more meaningful than ever before. But isn't it nice to know, for sure, that you're in good company? Welcome to the obsession, everyone.

 

Comments

51
By J&H's mom (not verified)
April 11, 2012 12:46 AM

JenMN

I vote for Sylvie

but will also toss out Simone, Audrey, Maya, Hope, and Arden based on your others. Could I interest you in Anya, Giselle, or Marcella?

Freya is the go-to Norse inspired name I've been reading in my mom's alumni mag lately (small, liberal arts college in Minnesota; lots of Ingrids). Lots of Marens and Claras too, which remind me, respectively, a bit of Meridian and Elise.

 

52
By mama2clara (not verified)
April 11, 2012 6:48 PM

I am glad to know I am not the only one obsessed with names. I look every week for the email newsletter from babywizard.com. I love names. Sadly I don't think I will get to use another, but you never know. I named my first daughter Clara, and have been name obsessed since I was pregnant with her. The 2nd is Caleb. Their names are not common, and not regularly popular, but not entirely out there. I guess I am a traditionalist when it comes to baby names. Having the name Katlyn (kate-lyn), I always had to correct pronounciation and spelling. I've been called everything from Cat-lyn to Kathryn to Kathleen. I wanted names for my children, where the spelling was uncomplicated and easy to pronounce. The names I have picked out for possible future children falls along the same line. The only thing is I have no clue for mns to go with them.  But I love this blog and all the comments :)

53
April 14, 2012 10:41 AM

Thanks for the more recent middle name suggestions for Elise.

@ jen mn- i like Sylvie alot and also want to suggest Aster to go with Juliet and Elise or , Genevieve

 

54
April 20, 2012 12:01 PM

I have been technically obssessed with names for nearly a decade...although I'm sure the interest started way before I picked up a baby name book or found a fascination with the dictionary. I think the trend is still a subculture, but it is growing and I hope people continue to find an interest in names.

56
By Daniel (not verified)
August 2, 2012 2:23 AM

as a parent we would like to search auspicious name for our baby, and some name as its own meaning and spirit. Therefore, it become a trend in nowadays regardless what race you are.

57
August 20, 2012 11:00 PM

The obsession with baby names is common nowadays. Apparently a baby's name may hold the key to the baby's personality and/or future. It is good news for parents-to-be as they have more choices to what to name their baby. 

58
April 13, 2013 4:42 PM

But that's just it, Another Laura and Jane, it can take a lot of time, research and consideration to pick out just the right classic/traditional name too. We have mostly that sort of name in our family (9 children, 18 grandchildren), and every name was carefully chosen after others had been considered. (And Jane 7, do you have another little one on the way? I haven't followed this blog for a bit -- and see only 6 (exceedingly fine) names listed above.) 

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Name talk is everywhere. My peculiar obsession with names doesn't seem so peculiar any more.

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June 29, 2014 12:04 PM

Times ago YES but now My peculiar obsession with names doesn't seem so peculiar any more. I've got a son named Richar with beautiful eyes, curly hair and it seems very easy to find short curly hairstyles for him.

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May 26, 2015 1:40 AM

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May 26, 2015 11:14 AM

I am in love with the two names nevaeh but i dont know a good unique middle name for her. any opinion?

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By thegang3452 (not verified)
July 22, 2015 11:49 AM

I'm obsessed with names to no end! Researching names is my favorite pastime. My favorite names: Charlotte, Camden, Lilibeth, Divinity, Hazel, Blake, and more. I LOVE NAMES! 

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January 5, 2016 12:10 AM

Everyone thinks I'm crazy how obsessed with names I am. I have always loved names. Since we have had Internet (when I was 15) I was searching everyone's names for the meanings. Its weird to me that people have no idea what their names mean! Name meanings are most definitely a factor for a name choice as well. As a teenager I had names picked for future kids, and I actually named my oldest a name I loved in high school! I currently  have 2 daughters who are 4 and 2 and I CONSTANTLY think of names for another baby, even though I don't plan another for some time. I have to be prepared! 

99
September 13, 2016 2:58 AM

Shoshi, only the shem kodesh (holy name), the name used when called to the Torah or getting married, matters.  The shem kinnui, everyday vernacular name, can be anything the parents choose.  This dual-name custom goes back at least to Hellenistic times, when we have Philo of Alexandria/Jedidiah and Titus Flavius Josephus/Yosuf ben Matisyahu.  Among American Jews it has been the custom to pick a shem kinnui that is the Anglicization of or has the same initial or meaning as or sounds similar to the shem kodesh, but that is not necessary.  One of my grandmothers was named Tziya Chaya, and when she came to America she chose Celia Ida.  My other grandmother was Tzippa (Tzipporah), and she chose Cecelia.  So as long as the name bestowed at the bris is Chaim, whatever you put on the civil birth certificate is totally a free choice.  If you want an overt link between the shem kodesh and the shem kinnui, you might consider the ch-names (Charles, Chad, Chase) or those that simply start with C- (Carl, Calvin, etc.).  Or just go ahead and use Daniel.

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