Why Not, Indeed? Take Two
Every four years, I take a new survey of the baby name landscape for a new edition of the Baby Name Wizard book. Every single name gets a fresh look: Where has it been? Where is it heading? What does it mean to us today?
One of my favorite parts of the process is revisiting the "Why Not?" style chapter. That's the collection of names that...well, the book says it best:
"The names below are a hodgepodge of different sounds and styles, with only two things in common: they’re perfectly good, and hardly anybody uses them."
I add and delete "Why Not?" names as tastes evolve, and when names rise in popularity so that they no longer fit the description. (The cutoff is roughly one occurrence of the name for every 5,000 babies born.) It's not surprising that some of the underappreciated names get "discovered" like starlets. In fact, I consider that a good sign that the list really is identifying untapped fashion potential.
Last time, in 2008, the "discovered" names fit clear fashion profiles. For girls, the profile was trim little names starting with L and ending in -a, like Lila and Luna. The boys' names were balanced on the edge between first name and last name, like Rowan and Finn.
Here’s the 2012 list of rising names scheduled to depart the "Why Not?" list for Baby Name Wizard 3:
Quite the sex imbalance! The big group of girls’ names tell me that side of the list was on target. (I’ll call the theme of the group “literary romance.”) But where are the boys? Did I miss an upcoming trend? I think I did, and I know what it was: the New Cowboys. Names like Brycen, Brantley, Colt, Waylon, and Bentley. Clearly, I have to do a better job scouting for riders in the distance.