Some baby names have a special spark. They hit a style bullseye and make us wish, "If only there were more names like that!"
Our "Alternatives" series looks at these objects of desire, the baby names that send waves of parents to the Internet searching for more of the same. In reviewing the more-like-that names I noticed two with a lot in common, Miles and Brooks. They're both fashionable boys' names with some obvious similarities, but also key differences that give each a unique impact.
First, the common ground. Miles and Brooks are:
1. One-syllable names ending in S;
2. Formal, sophisticated names with no obvious nicknames;
3. Not -S extensions of classic male names (a la Williams, Adams);
4. Familiar with a traditional but uncommon feeling, thanks to long histories of occasional use with a few prominent examples;
5. Enjoying a new level of popularity today.
That's a lot for any pair of names to have in common. I'm sure that many parents who like one of the names are also drawn to the other. Yet no two names are alike, and even these two diverge in surprisingly significant ways:
1. Surname style. While Miles exists as a surname it is an age-old given name, a form of Milo. Brooks is a transferred surname, and that origin is front-and-center in its style.
2. Miles Davis vs. Brooks Brothers, aka jazzy vs preppy. Legendary clothier Brooks Brothers roots the name Brooks firmly in the world of blue blazers and blue blood. Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis pulls Miles in a more artistic direction.
3. All-American vs. more global. Brooks has mostly been used in the U.S. and Canada. Even its blue-blood image is of the American variety; note that Brooks Brothers bills itself as "the original authority on American style." The name Miles has a more global style, and is as much English as American.
4. Smooth vs. crisp. Miles is all smooth, worldly elegance. Brooks is crisp, crackling and precise.
Together Miles and Brooks lay out a spectrum of style, all within the narrow realm of classic, formal one-syllable male names ending in s. In hunting for names with similar appeal, I've divided the prospects into three groups: the smooth, artistic international given names; the crisp, preppy American surnames; and the cross-appeal names that could lure in parents coming from either direction.
SMOOTH, ARTISTIC, INTERNATIONAL GIVEN NAMES
CRISP, PREPPY, AMERICAN SURNAME
How many girls do you know named Raelynn? How about Juliana? In America as a whole the two baby names are equally common, but in your state one is probably much more popular than the other. They represent two very different local styles.
I set out to pinpoint such local styles by identifying the baby names that each state chooses at a rate far above the national average. When you look through the lists below I think you'll see distinctive regional trends emerge. Look for natural grandeur in Alaskan names like Aurora and Denali; throwback sweetness in Minnesotan names like Elsie and Greta; and even a firearms slant in Oklahoman names like Kimber and Remington.
Some of the names may surprise you, while others will feel like home. All of them are part of today's American baby name style. Be sure to check out the defining boys' names of your state too, for full local flavor.
Images: Bessie/Pixabay, Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock, mikebaird/flickr
|THE DEFINING GIRLS' NAMES OF EVERY U.S. STATE|
Read More: The Defining Boys' Names of Every State
From Skyler to Van, Americans have embraced modern Dutch names for their simplicity and style. Many choices translate well into the English-speaking world, and work especially well as cross-cultural picks.
Fresh and fashionable, these names have a sweet sound all their own. Check out these gorgeous Dutch choices that haven’t yet made it into the top 1000!
Image by Amber Wolfe via Unsplash
Fenna. This accessible, feminine choice rhymes with Jenna, but has a softer, more stylish sound. It has been embraced wholeheartedly by the Netherlands and Belgium, where it ranks in the top 100. Fenna comes from a word meaning “peace,” and it’s gentle vibe embodies that well.
Cas. A short form of Casper, concise and dynamic Cas works well for modern boys. It’s the masculine answer to Cassandra or Cassidy, but still feels new and uncommon. The character of Castiel on TV’s Supernatural has generated Cas some attention, but this cool name has a more diverse personality.
Saskia. Already popular in the United Kingdom in Australia, sweet and sassy Saskia could well appeal to the American population. It’s an attractive alternative to Sasha, and the name has quite a few bearers on various television shows. Artist Rembrandt van Rijn entitled a portrait of his wife “Saskia”, giving this name a creative connection, too.
Niels. Niels is best known as a Danish name, and is the name name of three Nobel Prize-winning Danish scientists. But it's also a Dutch nickname for Cornelius/Cornelis, and stands up well as a full name. If you’re looking for a name that feels smart but unusual, Niels might be right up your alley.
Cilla. While enchanting Cilla ranked once on the top 1000 in the US, it’s been underused since, giving this name some historical credibility without being overly familiar. It’s a short form of Priscilla or Cecilia, but has a crisper and more elegant sound. Late English singer Cilla Black has brought this name some notoriety, but Cilla’s vibe is more timeless than specific.
Roel. This handsome variation of Roland has a kind and substantial feeling, fitting in well with classic masculine choices like Joel, Cole, and Noel. It ranked in the top 1000 briefly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but remains under the radar today. Actor Robert Downey Jr. and his wife gave their daughter the name Avri Roel, giving this winsome name a unisex spin.
Anouk. Though this darling variation of Anne remains popular in French- and Dutch-speaking countries, Anouk’s fame hasn’t extended across the pond - it was only given to fourteen American babies last year. Some awareness of the name comes from French actress Anouk Aimée, as well as the main character in Chocolat. Also spelled Anouck, this name feels both delightful and different.
Tygo. A name that’s bound to be a hit on the playground, Tygo is a Dutch favorite that would translate well to English-speaking communities. It fits in with names like Tyler, Ty, and Tyson, with a trendy O-ending. Still, Tygo seems like an energetic and unique name, especially for active boys.
Sanne. Pronounced “SAH-nuh,” this diminutive of Susan has a simple yet sophisticated vibe. It has the meaning of “lily” - a plus for fans of the botanical - and could be a novel alternative to names like Anna or Savannah. Pleasant and polished, Sanne would make a graceful choice for a modern girl.
Bram. This Dutch variation of Abraham is also linked to the Ireland and the UK, most notably by Irish author Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. It feels hip and lively, fitting in stylistically with names like Bryce, Brent, and Sam. With both Biblical and literary associations, Bram is sure to work for all kinds of name tastes.
Lotte. While Charlotte and Charlie have risen up the girls’ popularity lists, this Dutch and German diminutive hasn’t yet gained such an audience. But lovely Lotte - pronounced “LAW-tuh” - could appeal to fans of the former picks who want a name that’s more offbeat and fun. Notable namesakes include early German animator Lotte Reiniger and Austrian actress Lotte Lenya, giving the name a more artistic angle.
Sander. Softer than Zander but less common than Alex, Sander is a friendly short form of Alexander. It sounds like both an occupational name and a surname, but Sander is less faddish than other popular picks. This summery pick is well known in Scandinavian countries, too.
Merel. Though it’s pronounced like Meryl, stylish Merel comes from the Dutch word for “blackbird,” adding a subtle natural element to the name. Merel could work as an unexpected honorific for a familial Marlene or Marilyn, as well. It’s virtually nickname-proof, and has a smiling and sincere vibe with a unique feeling.
Pim. With Liam the William nickname du jour, forward-thinking parents may be on the lookout for something a bit different. Pim, the Dutch nickname for Willem, might fit the bill: it’s short and sweet, with a bright energy akin to that of Jack or Max. It’s in the top 100 in the Netherlands but has yet to make waves in the US - perhaps we’ll see it in the next decade!
Cato. Many known this name as a masculine Latin choice, but Cato also developed as a nickname for feminine Catharina in the Dutch-speaking world. It’s a worthy successor to Kate or Katie, with a light and contemporary vibe. Might Cato join Harlow and Margot in the girl’s name rankings soon?