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Speaking of Grey, on ABC news Diane Sawyer just announced it as the fastest-rising boy name (USA) of 2012. I don't know where they get their data since there is still a month to go in the year and of course the SSA data doesn't come out for another 6 months, but there you go.
And I feel I should apologize to saenra and Keren for my admittedly Americanocentric post above! I was actually thinking of the fact that many of these names mean nothing outside USA after I posted. It might be a good reason to choose Gangnam; it's a much more international phenomenon (though for as long as I've been following this blog most of the NOTYs have had primarily American associations).
I basically live under a rock pop-culture-wise, but I agree with Blue Ivy (clearing out the entire floor of the hospital?!) and Gangnam (most watched YouTube video of all time?!). Actually Grey is a pretty great suggestion too, though I would not have thought of it myself.
I don't get Katniss (I mean I know who she is but I don't see how it's different than, say, Reneesme, from a previous year). I know who Tim Tebow is but I don't know what Tebowing means or why his name would be special.
Mitt and Sandy are timely as far as news but they don't really say anything about names in our time. They are good options but not exciting. London and Snow aren't bad either but similarly don't grab me.
Sadly I think Trayvon is the best suggestion. I think it speaks to a lot of the talk about racism vs. "post-raciality" that has gone on in the past 4 years, especially vis-a-vis the Obama presidency. It also became a verb (wearing a hoodie or having yourself photographed in a hoodie). It's not a name that had a radical change in its meaning or that will influence naming trends hereafter, but it will forever be associated with this one particular young man and with a complex cluster of endemic social problems within the US that many people try to suggest are over or no longer relevant.
All this is to say that I don't have any ideas of my own but I'm mulling over the great suggestions put up by more creative people.
I agree with the other posters that Elsie Leslie is not really workable (I had difficulty just typing it correctly because the similarity is somewhat confusing).
If you really love it, why not use Elsie-Rae? Saying all three names breaks up the sing-songiness a bit. Even typing it or reading it on the page becomes less confusing.
Miriam-- I thought of Shiloh, too, and was surprised to see that it was wrong. But looking again at Laura's wording, I don't think anyone could argue that the name "became popular based on a famous battle." (Unless there were a lot of 19th-c. Shilohs of which I'm unaware--quite possible.)
I still think it's a horrific name to give a girl in the American context. Even if the battle is not intended as the point of reference, it's still the first thing many Americans are going to think of.
I'd be interested to hear more about Kimberly and its journey from battle site to male and then, ultimately, female name.
As soon as I saw the title of this post, I thought of the Jane Fonda movie. My guess is that is the most likely explanation. One way around the prostitute thing in a name dictionary would be something like: "The name was popularized by Jane Fonda's 1971 Academy Award-winning role in Klute." People who cared to know more would look it up; those who thought (rightly) that something that happened so long ago has ceased to be the primary meaning/reference behind the name might not bother, and why should they?
I don't know about the Tolkein reference having so much impact, though. Our dog when I was growing up was named Bree (after the town in LoTR) and I never met a single person who got the reference. (This was, however, in the late 80s, what was probably a low[er] point of LoTR popularity.)
Laura, thanks for the analysis! A couple months back I made a comment (can't remember what the original post was about, but I was probably pretty OT) about the slim possibility that the name "Romney" might appeal to parents. It's so interesting to read your more in-depth exploration of the (probably minimal) naming legacy of this election. I really find the subject of names most interesting when it moves into the historical, sociological, and political realms.
And I agree with J&H's mom: I wouldn't be surprised if just "Tagg" made some minor waves. Taggart, not so much. Seems to fit with names like Colt, Zane, Cash, etc.
What about a post on "what happened to Bruce?"
I, too, think of it as a quintessentially masculine/tough name (I am 30). But when my husband and I were talking about names for our son and mentioned Bruce, my father replied, "That's a 'gay' name." I thought it was odd, but I put it down to his having a cousin Bruce who maybe he didn't get along with as a kid.
Now I find that this seems to be a Boomer association with the name and I'm curious. Anyone know a) where the idea of Bruce being an effeminate name came from and b) what changed people's minds?
Speaking of Oakley and Utah, I was just talking to my husband this morning and wondering if Romney would take off as a first name (whether or not he gets elected). The style fits a bit with the western vibe and could be unisex. I wouldn't necessarily think it would be a tribute thing, just that the sound might appeal.
I know presidential names are "out" these days (except for long-dead presidents, who are probably not the main reference point for the name in most cases, cf. McKinley, Madison, Jackson, Harrison, Wilson, Lincoln, and now even Nixon, apparently!), so perhaps NOT getting elected would do more for the name?!
(BTW, it's fascinating to look at the graphs on for the first and last names of presidents. Their election could reliably cause a spike in either or both of the names until the late 20th century. There were even kids named Hoover. I'm sure I remember Laura doing a post on this a few years ago.)
Funny how trends work--we wanted a name for our son (b. 2011) that was neither super trendy nor weird/unfamiliar. We chose Byron. The name is not numerically popular, but now that I think about it, it certainly fits the cadence of the age of Aidens. And I thought we were bucking the trends! (Yeah, and there's that trendy "Y" and the long vowel sound in the first syllable, too...)
And FWIW, our last name ends with -n (even ends with the same "-un" sound as Byron) and it doesn't sound sing-songy. I think it depends a lot on the sounds in the middles of the first and last names. For those who are worried.
Like others, I know quite a few adults with these names...though they mostly DO read "under the age of 10" to me now.
Mason x2 (late 20s early 30s); Amelia x2 (same), Henry x1 (50s), Mila x1 (early 20s, though it's short for Ludmila)
I actually don't know any tots with these names, but the sound/feel/vibe they create seems very NOW. My son goes to daycare with a boy named Mays1n, which is pronounced like Mason. I could perhaps get behind this respelling, but it definitely reads more "girl" than "boy" (to me, at least).
zoerhenne, sorry if my previous comment implied that people are only nominating Pippa because they like it. What I was trying to say is that I think because people here are already very aware of the name, we might be overemphasizing the impact of Pippa Middleton on pop culture. I've heard more about the married couple since the wedding, and not much about Pippa.
As a longtime reader/poster here, I've seen the name Pippa/Philippa come up a lot over the years. Perhaps because it's a name that's already on our radar, it seems more mainstream than it actually is? That's what I was trying to say in my original comment, perhaps not very well.
Siri is a great suggestion that I would not have thought of. The object (?) it refers to is totally of the moment, and the name itself encapsulates a lot of current trends (vowel heavy/ends in a vowel, multi-ethnic, etc.). And "Jobs," an interesting suggestion but not catchy enough, is kind of folded into it, no?
I disagree with Pippa. It's an example of a name that fits the personal naming style of many people who post here, and so has been claimed as an exciting (or irritating) portent of future popularity. But I think its (and her) impact on the population as a whole is going to be about nil.
I posted about this a while back, but a Turkish friend of mine told me about the girl's name Yeter (meaning "enough"). She claims the connotation is "enough already" and the name is often given to the youngest child in a large family. But imagine if you were the younger sibling of a Yeter ... that's almost as bad as being named "Unwanted."
Generally I would say it's unfair to draw conclusions from such a small percentage of the pop., but what happens if you add up ALL such names in the US? It's still a teensy percent, but might be slightly more statistically significant. As far as messages, some of the names Laura lists might explain why Americans have the highest self-esteem relative to actual achievement!
What does it say about this Narnia fan that I guessed the name was Jadis after reading Laura's first paragraph?
I wonder if Mystique is not necessarily given as an X-Men homage but could be in the same category as Destiny and other word-names?
And Jareth might be a fake-Welsh mashup of Jared and Gareth. It sounds like the kind of thing someone could easily make up independent of the movie Labyrinth.
Linnaeus--I know an Abednego who goes by Abed, but I can't imagine Shadrach and Meshach coming back!
knp - just a thought, but you might like to know this re: Vienna...
There is a town in southern Illinois called Vienna, pronounced Vye-anna. My grandmother is from Missouri and pronounces the Austrian capital the same way. Depending on where you live, you might have to deal with people mispronouncing the name (if that bothers you).
Don't remember if you're from US or not; I know we have a very international board here. Congrats and good luck picking a name!
I think of Tiffany as one of the "mean girls" names of the era when I grew up. My husband sees it this way, too. We're the same age but grew up in a totally different demographic areas. (I am from a conservative, religious community in the South, while he's from an extremely wealthy, liberal, Jewish area on the East Coast.) We both picture a Tiffany as mean, snotty, and a bit, er. shall we say, promiscuous.
I wonder if other people our age have this same mental picture and if this contributes to negative perceptions of the name?
I like EVie's idea of the disdain coming from people grouping it with other "name-brand" names, but the jewelry store is pretty far down on the list of associations I make when I hear "Tiffany." I'm probably in the minority on that, though.
Another Nordic name popularized by a fictional character is My from Tove Jansson's Moominvalley series. This name has always totally mystified me, but I see on Wikipedia that it's pronounced "mu."
It's more common in Sweden, but has also been given to Swedish-speaking Finns (ethnic Swedes), according to the Finnish Population Register Centre, which keeps statistics on first names.
A couple hundred Ronjas and Peppis are born in Finland every year as well (mostly to ethnic Finns).
Oh, and this: Marten Asmodom Vilijn
Seems like genius to me.
Asmodom conjures up the demon Asmodeus, while Vilijn would be pronounced roughly like "villain" (I think) and given some of the relations between Dutch and English might have a similar meaning. Cool!
This was a great topic Laura, thanks! As a HP fan, I have always been impressed by JKR's naming chops. It's great fun to read about the various translations.
Another great NE (and translation challenge) was Hergé, the creator of the Tintin comics. He came up with some very colorful names that often contain puns or other references. I think (like JKR) that Herge had to OK all the names that were changed to make sure they maintained their original meanings. And like Harry Potter, Tintin is a beloved character whose adventures have been translated into dozens of languages...a lot of work for those translators!
As a Vanessa, I was excited to read this. Since ninth grade, I've been adamant about the name's true history in the face of people who claim that it's Greek for "butterfly"--clearly an instance of retroactive meaning-finding for parents (who perhaps don't want their name sullied by the memory of Swift's mistress?). I also often get asked if I am named after Vanessa Redgrave. The answer is not directly, but Laura's post reminds me that the "artistic British" vibe given to the name by Ms. Redgrave was probably appealing to my parents, among many others.