16 Baby Boy Names Inspired By Water

Dec 3rd 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

Water is the universal symbol for life. It's constantly evolving, flowing, and necessary to live. So why not use its variations as baby names for your new family addition?

Whether it's the name of an existing body of water, has an aqua-related meaning, or simply means "water" in another language, the name inspirations are endless.

Here are the best 16 baby boy names inspired by water:

1. Adrian -- The names comes from the Adriatic Sea and is one of the most popular boys names in America. In 2013 it finished as number 60 on the Social Security Administration's top 1,000 baby name list, no doubt thanks to gorgeous actor Adrian Grenier.
2. Beck -- Beckham is one of the most popular names for boys, but be original and shorten it to Beck, which means "stream" in Old Norse.
3. Brooks -- It refers to a small stream, but it's also the name of Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock's top man... before he left the show and Des with a broken heart.
4. Calder -- While it's an traditional Welsh last name, Calder makes a cool first name. It means "rocky water" or "stony river," in Welsh but for any hockey fan, it's the highest trophy in the minors. 
5. Conway -- The name has a strong spiritual tie, especially in Welsh, where it means "holy water." Plus, it has yet to break into mainstream American baby name lists, so get this one while it's still fairly underground.
6. Dylan -- It has been a steadily popular name for decades now. Most recently, it was number 23 on the SSA 2013 baby name list, and has one beautiful water connection: it means "son of the sea" in Welsh. Bet you didn't know that one.
7. Ford -- It's not just the name of a former president or the auto magnate. A ford is also the shallow place in the body of water where one can cross across a stream. The name definitely peaked around the start of the 20th century, but Owen Wilson recently gave it to his son, so expect a resurgence.
8. Hurley -- While you might immediately think of actress Elizabeth Hurley, this is actually an old Irish name that means "sea tide."
9. Kai -- This name has been most popular in Hawaii, where it means "sea," but it's made its way to the rest of the U.S. and has was the 199th most popular name in 2013, according to the Social Security Administration
10. Lincoln -- It's one of the most popular celebrity baby names on the market right now. Teen Mom Kailyn Lowry gave it to her little boy, while Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard gave it to their daughter, which definitely contributed to making it number 95 on the top 1,000 baby names by the SSA in 2013. It's a more modernized version of the Welsh "llyn," but the top association is definitely with our sixteenth president.
11. Murray -- Hey, Bachelorette fans! It's the name of one of Andi Dorfman's suitors, but it also means "settlement by the sea" in Scottish. Plus, it's another last name-as-first name possibility, which is a hot, hot, hot trend right now.
12. Murphy -- The name is the modern English version of the Gaelic "Murchadh", which means "sea warrior." Don't discount Murchadh as a possibility either. You're pretty guaranteed your kiddo's name won't be repeated.
13. River -- Straight and to the point, this water name has risen in popularity over recent years, and ranked as number 372 on the Social Security Administration's list.
14. Trent -- As in the River Trent (in England), the word Trent means "gushing waters" in Latin. The trendy name even finished as number 440 in 2013's top name list, according to the Social Security Administration.
15. Wade -- You can wade through water, or literally define it as a "river crossing," but both associations are water-related and ideal for a tiny dude.
16. Zale -- The name means "strong sea" or "power of the sea" in Greek, so your little man will definitely show some fortitude right from the start.

Would you choose a water-inspired name for your son?

25 Baby Girl Names Inspired by Saints

Dec 2nd 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names 

Originally appeared on The Stir.

Know you have a baby girl on the way? Congratulations! Now it's time to pick a baby name, and you'd be smart to pick one with a good history. You can't do better than a saint name -- particularly one of the patron saints who can look over your little one as they grow.

From Alexis to Zita, we've got you covered with 25 names for little girls inspired by saints. Each one is a patroness of something special.

1. Alexis -- St. Alexis was a man and patron saint of beggars, but his name has become popular with parents of little girls looking for a strong moniker. After all, it means to defend.

2. Agatha -- Looking for a throwback name? There won't be a ton of Agathas in your little girl's preschool, but she'll certainly have someone to look up to. St. Agatha is the patron of nurses.

3. Apollonia -- Another name that falls under the "unique" category, it's never been ranked in the top 1,000 baby names. Ever! Speaking of things that won't happen -- she's patroness of toothaches. May the teething stage be smooth sailing.

4. Catherine -- Set your little scholar on her way to greatness with a name from the patroness of students.

5. Bernadette -- The patroness of shepherds, St. Bernadette Soubirous is famous for being the first to see Mary appear in a field in Lourdes, France. Although an uneducated peasant, she wasn't afraid -- or willing to be quiet when people didn't believe her. The name was popular in the 1940s but has fallen out of fashion.

6. Brigid -- Irish moms who want to keep their culture alive have a perfect pick in St. Brigid of Kildare -- the patron saint of Ireland.

7. Jeanne -- You've heard of Joan of Arc? Well, her name in her native France -- for which she's the patron saint -- was really Jeanne, meaning God is gracious.

8. Cecilia -- A lyrical name for the patron saint of musicians.

9. Clare -- Who would have thought there'd be a patron saint of television? No surprise the name means famous!

10. Colette -- The patron of women trying to conceive, this triumphant name means victory of the people.

11. Felicity -- A happy name for the patron saint of moms!

12. Louise -- St. Louise de Marillac is patron of social workers.

13. Genevieve -- A name of both Celtic and French origins, your little girl could share it with the patron saint of Paris. Ooh, la la!

14. Gianna -- One of the more recently canonized saints, Gianna Beretta Molla was a doctor and mother in Italy. Naturally she's a patroness of moms and physicians! The Italian name means God is gracious.

15. Maria -- The patron saint of the young (and young at heart!), the name means "wished-for child." How appropriate! 

16. Lucy -- The patron of the blind and eye disorders, Lucy was a Sicilian martyr.

17. Kiara -- Not much is known about this Irish saint, but her name is lovely. As for its meaning, it's a little mysterious: black-haired one.

18. Kateri -- A relatively new saint -- she was canonized in 2012 -- Kateri was Native American and lived in the 1600s in what is now New York. She is the patron of environment and ecology.

19. Monica -- A favorite with moms, Saint Monica is the patron of mothers! No wonder the name means "to advise."

20. Philomena -- It only seems fitting for a little girl born after her parents struggled with infertility to be named for the issue's patron. And you can bet she'll be feisty with a name that means "lover of strength."

21. Rita -- The Beatles aren't the only ones who have a thing for lovely Rita. She's the patron saint of parents!

22. Rose -- St. Rose of Lima is watching over all of South America, so why not your baby girl too? 

23. Ursula -- Think the patron of young girls, not the sea witch, for this name with a nod to nature that means "she-bear."

24. Teresa -- Prone to migraines? Hopefully a little girl named for St. Teresa of Avila, patron saint of -- you guessed it -- headaches, can help!

25. Zita -- A unique name but a beautiful one, it comes from the patroness of domestic workers.

Which ones are your favorites?

No, Muhammad Isn't the Top Baby Name In England. But...

Dec 2nd 2014

First things first: ignore any screaming headlines you see claiming that Muhammad is now the U.K.'s #1 name for boys. The most recent national statistics for England and Wales rank the name Muhammad at #15, only half as popular as the real #1. In the rest of the U.K. it's even less common.

The headlines were inspired a Babycentre.co.uk press release, which reported on the top names submitted by that site's users. Their list may differ from national stats for multiple reasons. Most obviously, a website's user base isn't a representative sample of a whole country. For instance, no Spanish boys' names ever crack the USA top-100 list produced by Babycentre's U.S. sister site -- no José, no Angel, no Luis.

Further, the Babycentre tally combined variations of some names in its count. They apparently treated most global forms of Muhammad/Mohamed/Muhamet as one, while names like Sophie and Sophia, Eve, Eva, and Evie were all counted separately. My take-away lessons: when you're studying name popularity demand actual government stats, and list every name for clarity.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to the real heart of this story. The apparent rise of Muhammad struck a nerve because it seemed to signal a momentous change in Britain's population. If you look closely at the names, though, I think there's a subtler factor at work. Imagine for a moment that the headlines hadn't read "Muhammad Is Now the #1 Baby Name in Britain!" Imagine that they said instead:

"More British Babies Are Named Muhammad Than Oliver!"

That doesn't seem nearly so momentous, does it? The single baby name Oliver obviously represents only a tiny slice of the population. Yet tiny-slice Oliver is the U.K.'s real #1 name.

To me, this story isn't only about the rising Muslim population in England. It's about the rapidly changing way non-Muslims name their babies.

The fact that Muhammad is even in the discussion of top names is remarkable, given that the Muslim community represents only one in ten births in the U.K. In centuries past, the names John and Mary alone would have dwarfed that entire Muslim baby population. But John and Mary no longer crack the top 100 in England. Only one English boy in a thousand is named John. Even the #1 boy's name accounts for only one boy in fifty.

Muhammad, in various spellings, is given to one in five Muslim boys in the UK. The "anchor names" of Islamic tradition continue to dominate, while the anchor names of Christian tradition are being abandoned on fashion grounds. It's telling that more English girls today receive the Arabic name Maryam than its English equivalent Mary.

What we're seeing is two changes in the baby name population at once. The first is a religious demographic shift, the second an attitude/style shift away from tradition -- one which varies by religious demographic. The result is a huge name-style gap. Given that names represent our hopes, dreams and values, that's a gap worth paying attention to. In the United States, growing differences in how groups name their babies have signaled deeper rifts in mutual understanding and good will.