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My Favorite Names
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December 2, 2016 08:19 AM

I have to say PJ's assessment of Boaty McBoatface - "Be careful what you ask for, crowd sourcing, what is and is not a "legitimate" process or name, an underdog that's not taken seriously for good reasons that surprisingly wins, and the element of ridiculous absurdidity that becomes part of public discourse. Sounds like a name to represent 2016 to me." - is compelling, and encapsulates a lot of what went on in 2016. 

I'm thinking this may be the NOTY. 

(And I totally agree about the discussion not devolving into mud-slinging. BNW readers are awesome!)

December 1, 2016 11:56 AM

I understand your claification, Laura, and I think alt-right is a proper noun. I'd sooner say Brexit doesn't fit the criterion outlined than alt-right.

@jwanders, I had to laugh at Boaty McBoatface! 

November 30, 2016 11:48 AM

As much as it pains me personally to do so, I'm casting my vote for "alt-right" with a second place vote for "Brexit."

I agree with Karyn's assessment that the name is a huge part of the alt-right story. If they'd called themselves what they are - white supremacists and white nationalists - they'd never have gained the traction in the mainstream media that they have. The push to rebrand them more honestly further demonstrates the importance of the name to the story. 

With regard to Brexit, I can't say it better than CDGH, "That's an important story and encapsulation of a worldwide political moment, all tied up in a distinctive name. Endlessly flexible (Grexit?) and begging for parody (Quitaly? Portugone? Bailgaria? Polskedaddle?), the name is a big part of the story."

May 8, 2016 05:45 AM

My favorite pairing in the top 1000? Number 992 - Frankie and Frankie! :)

February 22, 2016 12:11 PM

I used to know a mother-daughter pair, Melissa and Melinda. I had such a hard time keeping them straight. I finally lit on the fact that "daughter" and Melinda both had Ds in them. 

As for fictional characters with confusing names, how about Criminal Minds with Erin Strauss and Aaron Hotchner? I know some people pronounce those names differently and there would be no confusion, but I say them the same and people on the show do too. True, Aaron is most often Hotch, but I find it unnecessarily confusing. Plus, she doesn't seem the right age to be an Erin!

January 20, 2016 10:40 AM

I'm not a fan of this style myself, but I have known a girl called Queen (she'd be 14 now) and one called Princess (she's probably 15 or 16). While I wouldn't choose either of those names, they don't strike me as particularly over the top. I think a name like Messiah, with strong religious meaning for many, would be much harder to wear. 

November 24, 2015 10:40 AM

Hmmm, Caitlyn or Charlie ... the name is central in many ways to both stories. However, a stronger case can be made for Caitlyn, especially if the focus is on personal names (Laura's comment ^^). Here is a situation where an individual actively chose not just a new name, but a new identity partly embodied by the name, for herself. 

September 8, 2015 11:47 AM

Laura, the cat's name is Juan. :)

September 4, 2015 11:54 AM

I absolutely agree about the typical-adult name, Laura, but I had to share that I have a friend whose dog's name IS Kenneth! :)

August 13, 2015 12:38 PM

My daughter just traversed the rocky shoals of middle school successfully with the name Astrid. Was there some teasing? Sure, but teasing is part of middle school and if it isn't someone's name, there are loads of other triggers. She generally owns the more scatological elements along the teasing spectrum, even incorporating one into an Instagram handle.

Plus, this is her name for a lifetime, so much more of which is spent as an adult, where you'd hope people could move beyond name-based teasing. 

We think it's a fantastic name and, so far, so does she. 

August 13, 2015 12:29 PM

@Beth01 - I also like Myrtle so you're not alone!

As for name crushes, I love Abraham (my husband vetoed this as sounding like an elderly Jewish man), Laszlo and Pablo (not ethnic matches for us; I'd feel weird using them), and Solveig and Tadhg (pronunciation problems). Mary is also a fave, but it's my mil's first name and although she goes by a double-barreled first, I still couldn't use it (we used only deceased relatives' names).  

June 3, 2015 01:15 PM

Laura, this is a very thoughtful, gracious exploration of the choice of Caitlyn. I appreciate particularly seeing something in the name blogosphere that didn't skewer her decision to select a name that doesn't match those from her birth generation. As you rightly point out, this isn't the same as a parent naming a new baby in 1949. It's an adult selecting a name for herself that reflects who she truly is. I'd guess many of us, given the chance to rename ourselves, wouldn't select another name popular in the year of our birth.

June 1, 2015 11:32 AM

Congratulations, Madison and Caitlin! I'm amazed at people who can do this. I love names, but I can't track the trends to the names. 

Interesting that Madison lists Beth as a favorite. My daughter (13) also likes Beth. :)

January 9, 2015 10:53 AM

Love that you hit on Jacion even as you weren't trying to get there! That's the beauty of the name analysis you do. 


@PJ, I've known two Theas as well. One said THEE-ah, the other TEE-ah. 

December 16, 2014 11:32 AM

Lturtle, I thought the same thing! 

I agree with you, Miriam, the guest authors aren't always up to Laura's standards. It's too bad. 

December 12, 2014 11:43 AM

Yay! This was my second choice. I think it's a great NOTY, Laura!

November 19, 2014 08:44 AM

In light of the listed criteria

- A dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning

- A reflection of a broader cultural theme, or influence on broader style trends

- The "naminess" of a story or issue. How essential is the name to the story?

I cast my vote for ISIS. I agree with others who voiced a hesitation (or even unwillingness) to vote for this name. However, with the exception of perhaps the second point, it nails the criteria. It certainly represents a dramatic change in the usage or social meaning and the name is absolutely essential to the story, including the variety of names used.

I also like the suggestion of Adele Dazeem as that says a lot about our understanding of names (certainly it was a dramatic change in a name's social meaning and the name was the entire story). Apparently immediately following Travolta's mistake, the Playbills for If/Then were changed to say "the role of Elizabeth being played by Adele Dazeem." :)

I understand the popularity of Frozen and Elsa, but I don't see a dramatic change in usage or social meaning (popularity may go up, but that will be next year and beyond). It hits the second point, but I think the name does that on its own without the movie and while I agree Elsa is on-trend in a way Gerda is not, they could have chosen a number of names that would have worked in the context of the story.

Wyatt and Messiah are interesting choices, but the discussion around the use of those names doesn't feel particularly 2014 to me. Rather, it's a discussion that we circle back to periodically. 

As for Ferguson, I don't think the name itself had any bearing on the story. It would have been a story regardless of the town's name. I give Rosetta, Philae, Putin, Crimea, and Sochi the same assessment.

October 23, 2014 11:30 AM

As with the girls' list, I like a lot of these! Albert, Arthur, Frederick, Archie, Jamie, Felix, Hugo, and Stanley are all great!

October 16, 2014 08:34 AM

I like so many of these - Beatrice, Edith, Florence, Harriet, Imogen, Lois, Betsy, and Freya. Clearly I live in the wrong part of the world!