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John's still holding on in Alabama.
In my house, we have a strict policy that people get called what they want to be called. Even when the 3yo goes for a week asking to be addressed as Kitty-Meow, we address him as Kitty-Meow. Part of this is that my spouse is transgender and has gone through a name and pronoun change. It is very hurtful when people refuse to call you by the name (and pronouns) you have chosen (in this case legally changed). Some people act as if it is a major imposition, but I wish they could see the harm they do by insisting on using a name the person does not want to use. Thus, it is a matter of principle in our house to let each person choose their name. My 6yo used to be Molly. A year ago, she starting asking us to spell it Mali, and that's what we do.
I think both Becky and Hamilton would be solid choices.
But I think the political situation is too overwhelming to let anything else claim "of the year" status.
"Donald" may be important, but it's not really about the name Donald; if anything, the story there should be "Trump," as in the convergence of name, verb, epithet, and cheer. These days, you can say "Trump!" to someone and, depending on context, it can take on a whole range of meanings, from "screw you" to "leave America" to "you're a racist." Whatever your politics, that's a solid name story.
I also see the logic in "Brexit" as the Name of the Year. 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.
It might belong more in "Mountain West," but Briar seems to be an up-and-coming name with breakthrough potential. It debuted in the top 1000 for both boys and girls in 2015 and is a top-500 name in a handful of Midwestern, Appalachian, and Mountain West states (top-300 in ND, MT, ID, IA, WV). It's already disproportionately popular in states like Nebraska, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana. It's a little bit cowboy, a little bit poet. I can see it working as well in my New England neighborhood as it does in the Heartland.
How about Temperance?
Bones debuted in September of 2005, with main character Temperance Brennan.
6 babies named Temperance in 2005
20 babies named Temperance in 2006
77 babies named Temperance in 2007
Temperance broke into the top 1,000 in 2011 and remains there. (Alternate spelling Temperence is now used more often than mainstream spelling Temperance was in the pre-Bones era.)
My husband loved the nickname Sam, but Samuel did not work for us for various reasons. We considered a lot of options and were pretty flexible (the Sams in my family are all Salvatores, so we felt ok about fudging things a bit). In addition to the names listed here, we considered:
Sammarco, Samus, Erasmus, Artemas, and a name made up of initials (for example, Silas Anthony Matthew)
In the end, we named him Samaritan.
Please tell me I was not the only person who read about baby Spurgeon and said, "Awww! Like Moody Spurgeon MacPherson!"
There are compelling reasons for both ISIS and Caitlyn.
I gotta go with Caitlyn, though. Isis is an interesting example of how a name's meaning can change with current events. But Caitlyn is such a multi-faceted name story: there's the focus on making one's own identity, the significance of the spelling, the generational issue — you could write a dissertation on Caitlyn. Definitely the name story of the year.
I wanted to name my daughter Oona, but my husband vetoed. He thought it was too weird. Ditto on Erasmus for my son.
Names that just didn't quite work for our family, despite our love for them: Clover, Casimir
And I feel you on Jemima, namesnob. I love it, but the "mammy" imagery associated with the name through Aunt Jemima takes it right off the table.
I find the rising boys' names really hard to predict. Last year it was all Jace and A and I sounds. This year is all Bo Ro Lo. I'll stick to picking girls' names to rise!
One thing that caught my eye on the SSA "Change in Popularity" page was the block of names a dozen lines down. On the boys' side, three in a row are Finnley, Henrik, and Hendrix (gaining about 200 places in the rankings). On the girls' side, the corresponding names are Freya, Henley, and Frida (gains of around 300). Perhaps I'll put my chips on the H/R/F combos next year.
I had Elsa and Dalary (like many others, I'm sure).
My third guess was a swing and a miss: Lupita. I thought for sure that Lupita Nyong'o + cute "Lu" sound (Luna! Lulu! Louisa!) + nickname for Guadalupe would combine for a hit, but nope. There were 109 Lupitas in 2013 and 108 in 2014. Not even a little bump.
Obviously, Oliver is right out because of Oliver Cromwell. That's what I was referring to. Before George was born, Oliver was on some of these betting lists and clearly that is never, ever going to happen.
But I still think James would still be a bold choice, precisely because of the Stuart kings. If the new royal baby is named James, it would mean that the Jacobite rebellions are finally gone and forgotten, which yes, would be surprising to me. Obviously not shocking like Oliver. But brother princes named George and James would show that the eighteenth century is truly over. Except for the whole still having a monarchy thing.
(And thanks for pointing out that there already is a little James in the family. Yes, I'm surprised!)
My guess is Charlotte or Arthur.
Would they really name a British prince James? That would be really surprising to me. Maybe not "Oliver" levels of surprising, but pretty bold.
"Marjorie just appeared in the top 1,000 girls' names in 2013 after a long absence, making it impossible to tell if a trend is brewing."
Marjorie seems to be one of the names enjoying a bump from Game of Thrones. The character in the show is Margaery, but the pronunciation is the same. If you look at the numbers from the last 10 years, Marjories more than doubled in absolute numbers in 2013 — the character was introduced in the spring of 2012. It's no Arya, but I'd be surprised if the vintage style and the appealing character don't keep it climbing for the next couple of years.
Marjories in the US
I wonder whether Marigold will get a bump from Downton Abbey in next year's rankings. Not a huge increase, but maybe break 50 uses.
Name Nerds puts together a list of combined spellings. As Laura said, it's impossible to do with complete precision, but they do a pretty good job at a difficult task: http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/
What's America's favorite name for girls? I think you could make a decent case for Maddie or Ellie.
Rebel Wilson also had a good year.
Thanks for the background on these names!
I'm not banking on Elsa for this year's pool. The movie came out too late in the year. But for next year's pool . . . watch out. I'll be shocked if it doesn't go up at least 200% in 2014.
There are four women in my degree program at school and three are Kates of one kind or another. On the first day, we met and divided up the name territory so only one would go by Kate/Katie/Katherine/Kaitlin etc.