The 2011 Baby Name Pool: Meet the Champion!
Each year's Baby Name Pool has its own unique twists. This year, many of our savvy name watchers predicted the continuing ascent of hot tradesman surnames like Mason and Harper. Yet many were also lured in by the siren song of Pippa, the Royal Wedding favorite which turned out to be hotter as a discussion topic than a baby name. And not a one followed the "preppy cowboy" arrow from last year's hottest rising name Bentley to this year's, Brantley.
One visionary competitor, though, did tab the #1 hottest girl's name, Aubree. She is this year's Baby Naming Champion. Please join me in a salute to Jennifer K., a 32-year-old surgeon from Seattle, who beat out all challengers with this slate of predictions:
Jennifer tells me that she made her choices by looking beyond Seattle's own quirky naming culture:
"I tried to imagine what might influence the average first-time mom in the US-- someone, by statistics, who would be in her mid-20s, married/partnered, living in a suburb or small city not on the coasts, and with some college...what would likely strike someone as fresh and 'cute,' or fresh and 'cool?'"
She looked to pop culture events during the year as potential sparks to new name trends -- or the fatal blows for past trends:
"The final death throes of the Jon & Kate franchise mean that their spelling of Aiden (Aaden) is no longer something people are likely to emulate. Taraji P Henson is a perfectly nice actress-- but her debut splash (and resultant namesakes) was a couple of years ago, and parents who are drawn to name their children after actresses are usually quite up-to-the-minute. Mylee is more obvious-- Miley Cyrus is getting more and more negative press, so I felt the people who were drawn to her name (particularly again the creative spellers looking for an even cutesier version of it) are looking elsewhere."
For her powerhouse choice of Aubree, Jennifer was inspired particularly by last year's fastest-rising girl's name, Maci. Aubree seemed an ideal choice to appeal to the same parents: "It fits in perfectly with the 'cute' phenomenon that is rapidly coming to dominate names for baby girls, is a fresh and obviously feminine take on a previously masculine name, [and] is easy to say and spell."
Jennifer is herself the mother of an infant son Antoine Raphael, whose names were inspired by specific individuals. "Antoine is his grandfather's name (originally from Syria), and Raphael is after someone called Raphael Hawaweeny (now known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as St Raphael of Brooklyn). Raphael the archangel also happens to be the patron saint of Seattle, and of physicians. :)"
Thank you to everyone who entered this year's pool, which was the closest-scoring ever. It's never too early to start your list for next year! I'll leave you with some final thoughts from our champion Jennifer, which echo some of the reasons all of us here love the subject of names.
"Naming is such a fascinating reflection of parents' values, culture and aspirations for their new child. I, like many of your readers, have been drawn to onomastics since I was a teenager. I like to learn about etymology and cultural sources, but even more like the sociological implications of names. I find that I can make relatively accurate snapshots of a family based purely on the names they choose for their children. Are they hoping their child will be popular, well-liked and friendly, or do they want their child to be on the fringes, trailblazing? Do they want to emphasize historical tradition and family continuity or do they want an innovator who breaks links with the past? What is their cultural/ethnic background, and how important is that to them?"