Word Name Categorization: Methodology Notes

(Return to the word names article)


531 meaning names were selected based on a scan for the following criteria:

Adopted from an English common word. Proper nouns (e.g. October), brand names (Lexus), creative spellings (Serenitee), multiword phrases (MyKing) and meaning names from other languages (Cielo) were not eligible.

In addition, the word basis of the name had to be considered primary, in that the word and its meaning drive the name's popularity and the way it is received. This admittedly subjective criterion was necessary to rule out the many names which coincide with an English word but are chosen on other bases. Examples:

- While "bode" is an English verb, the name Bode is generally pronounce as two syllables (BOH-dee) on the model of skier Bode Miller.

- Foster has a long history as a surname and male name, so that the use of Foster as girls reflects that cultural meaning more than the common word.

- Harsh is an Indian name of Sanskrit origin, unrelated to the English word "harsh."

Modern rather than traditional. A name was judged "new" if it appeared in the official U.S. name statistics for 2017 (given to five or more boys or girls during that year), AND the sum total of its usage for either gender in the statistics for the entire century prior to 1980 was less than 50.


A review of the 51 names identified 28 categories of meaning. Each name was tagged with one or more categories which it represented; e.g. the name Lavender was categorized under both "Colors" and "Flowers/Botanical."

Each categorization was graded A (highest), B or C according to how fully the name embodied that meaning category. For example, the name Adorable was listed as an A name under "beauty" as well as a C under "love." The grades were used as weights in tallying category totals: A=3 points, B=2 points, C=1 point. So if five girls were named adorable, they would tally as 15 total points to "beauty" and 5 points to "love."

Names judged uncategorizable (e.g. Maze, Reminisce, Domino), which accounted for 4% of babies in the sample, were left out of the final tally.

(Return to the Word Names Article)