Laura Wattenberg

Name

Laura Wattenberg

About Me

I'm the creator of BabyNameWizard.com and author of The Baby Name Wizard, the in-depth "field guide to baby names." I've spent the past decade studying the names we give our children -- to help parents find their perfect names, and to understand what name trends tell us about our society. If you've come to this page looking for a way to contact me, please use the "contact" link at the very bottom of the page. Thanks!

My Favorite Names
My Recent Blog Comments
1
December 15, 2018 08:53 AM

Oh dear, I seem to have failed utterly in sorting my "o" and "oo" columns. I pledge to proofread better in the future!

I think I got too caught up in the complicated case of Beaux. As an English word, the standard pronunciation has a final consonant sound ("boze"). In French, I believe the x is silent...unless the word that follows starts with a vowel. And the most familiar usage is in the phrase "beaux arts."

As an American baby name, I strongly suspect--but can't prove--that 99% of families treat the x as silent. So, should it be on this list?

 

 

 

 

2
December 14, 2018 08:11 AM

Thanks for the corrections, everyone! I've updated the list...I'm not sure how Roux slipped in there. Yes, Roux is pronounced with an "oo" sound. And yes, it has shown up as a baby name recently, perhaps as an elaboration on the Hunger Games name Rue, or perhaps inspired by a brand of hair products. Probably NOT inspired by the sauce base. :)

3

@TheOtherHungarian -- while Cicely and Cecily are not the same name, I included both because I think they contribute to each other's familiarity. People tend to conflate the two...in fact, if you do a Google search for "Cecily Tyson" (in quotes), you get 50,000 results!

4
August 30, 2018 07:11 PM

I can understand why they might seem like a stretch, but most of them already show up on the U.S. baby name stats (used 5 or more times last year alone)! Little girls named Halston, Willoughby, Livingston and Winslet are a reality.

5
August 20, 2018 09:08 AM

@Michaela Grey as I said in the post, the definition of a "traditional" name is surprisingly hard to pin down. Take Jewel--it may not sound like a classic, but it would be hard to call a name that was most popular from the 1890s-1930s "contemporary"! Jewel has essentially the same usage curve as Ruby but at a lower popularity point:

http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=jewel&sw=f&exact=true

There are surely some argument starters on this list (which is half the fun, right?) But overall, I think each column does take on a clear and distinct identity.

6
August 19, 2018 01:54 PM

@TheOtherHungarian you're absolutely right, that's inconsistent. I've dropped Kamila.

7
August 7, 2018 06:55 PM

Megan, the trends for girls look very much the same, though there was a little more diversity in girls' names back in the 1950s. E.g. everybody named their kids Mary, Linda and Susan, but a name like Donna varied more from place to place.

8
July 20, 2018 09:24 AM

@Megan W. I had a feeling that people would wonder about the absence of Elizabeth and Katherine! They're clearly dignified classics, but they missed the cut for this list on grounds of popularity. Both names have remained so consistently popular that they can be taken for granted a little bit.

9
June 13, 2018 04:03 PM

@Spam Fair point--while I wrote that they're all "rare to non-existent," there's certainly a big difference between rare and non-existent! I'll edit to indicate the two names that actually appear in the most recent stats.

10
May 31, 2018 06:42 PM

@Karyn, I deliberately left the gender labels off those names because it's a big and complicated issue, and I didn't think I could do it justice in a sentence. It does mostly break down to loud=boys and quiet=girls, but Riot is a unisex exception. Look for a full column on this topic down the road!

 

11
May 24, 2018 07:19 PM

@CountryLizB I definitely think the jump from 2006 to 2007 was sparked by the Wii! There have been other ii examples since, like the late musician Avicii and a slew of less prominent brand names. It says a lot that brand namers and baby namers are turning to some of the same approaches to catch people's attention.

12

@jxmann17 Sorry, I should clarify: the "accelerating" comment was based on the past two politically charged years (election + inaguration) vs the two years previous.

13

@HungarianNameGeek another statistical curiosity to ponder: the flattening out of the curve at the top means that making it into the *bottom* of the top 1,000 means more than in previous generations. Today's #1,000 boy's name is three times as popular as past #1,000s. (Hmm, I feel a blog topic coming on....)

14

Benjen! Of course -- so many names in that cast of thousands.

15
May 4, 2018 06:35 PM

May I add my apologies (and congratulations)? The silence here was definitely tough to take!

We're still working on balancing spam-fighting with openness of access, it's an ongoing process. Thanks for bearing with us!

16
May 3, 2018 08:41 AM

@Karyn, maybe I should add Shaft to my very short list of contronym names (e.g. Blake).

17
April 11, 2018 02:01 PM

@nedibles  Yes indeed, as you would imagine (for so many reasons), Shaft is 100% male! The percentage next to each name is the "1970s purity" rating -- the percentage of all babies who have been given that name who were born in the '70s. Perhaps I'd better reformat make that clearer. :)

18
April 6, 2018 07:52 AM

@EVie, that's a great point about the name forcing subservience. Among contemporary names, MyKing might be a comparison (about 20 boys are named MyKing every year).

I wonder how the parents choosing Milady a century ago would have perceived the milady/my lady distinction? My hunch is that most were of the "striver class" seeking greater things for their children, and outside the world of servants and bluebloods.

19
February 15, 2018 03:20 PM

An official tip of the cap to you, Karyn! (And thanks for spotting the wayward column header, all fixed now!)

20
February 6, 2018 08:08 AM

Thanks to everyone who caught typos in the names! One of the difficulties in writing about names is that spell-checkers are essentially useless. It's especially hard when a name starts the same as a common word, and my typing fingers want to complete it that way. I really have to force my hands to type "Tuesdee" or even "Londyn."