Keeping kids in the popularity name game

Have you kept up on the latest baby names? I have. Can’t help myself. I have always been fascinated with who names his/her child what. Names can either be a blessing or a curse. They come with powerful associations and great expectations. Or not.

For an extensive listing of which names were the most popular during 2013, go online to babynames.com. I did after I recently became great aunt to “Sawyer,” which, incidentally ranks only 55th in popularity among boys’ names. What kind of bearing will that have on his life? Will he feel he measures up? Will he make a living painting fences or delegating that job to others?

More importantly, will he fare as well as other males born during 2013 who were named Liam, Noah or Oliver, the top three boys names on the popularity list? Should parents who are looking to give their children every possible advantage study the movement of the names on the list like they would stock market activity to ensure they invest in the best name possible?

I noticed the list of most popular boys’ names still had its share of perennial favorites, Lucas, Benjamin, Alexander and Jack. But what’s the name “Declan” doing in the number eight spot? It sounds like a veterinary procedure I had performed on my cat when she wouldn’t stop scratching the furniture. It would sound better backward, as “Nalced,” even though that would be a better product name for something you take for acid reflux.

The newspaper in which my new great nephew’s birth announcement appeared featured a hospital nursery mate named Amelia. She’s sure to go places, as her name is #2 among the most popular girl baby names. Apparently her parents were paying attention, as were those of another girl baby, named Luna, which was #44 on the hit parade. Thanks, Harry Potter series, for that shining name suggestion.

What’s surprised me in recent years is the movement of girls’ names nostalgically toward more traditional ones. In addition to Alice (#9), your friendly waitress at non-trendy-name Mel’s Diner; there’s Clara, befriender of nutcrackers (#42); and Ella (#20), who might turn out to be vocally gifted. Along dancing lines, don’t forget “Adelaide” (#43), whose parents will need to love her a bushel and a peck to offset the heck she will take for having a name like that.

Other girls’ names are more blatant throwbacks to a different era and might very well have been taken from the patient listing at a nursing home: Cora, Hazel and Evelyn (numbers 35, 36 and 37) are names I thought were buried with my dead grandmother’s pinochle partners. I wisely named my daughter Kate after that grandma, but also because it’s a name that carries well when you stick your head out the back door and yell “Kate!” to call her for dinner. The people naming their children Stella (#29) must have had similar thoughts. However, that name carries best when bellowed primally by a man clad in a wife-beater shirt.

The fact both Stella and Luna appear in the Top 40 of girls names had me thinking it would be a really creepy first- and middle-name combination as a nod to the Disney cartoon bat, Stellaluna, which combines two questionable names into one, larger questionable name. Are you batty yet?

“Charlotte” is currently the most popular baby name for girls. Interesting. Note to new parents, no matter what its popularity, you want to avoid naming your baby something that has an obvious negative rhyme to it. Before long, there will be droves of “Charlotte the Harlots” roaming middle school hallways. They will locker partner with the Luna the Tunas.

It’s also been fun to see product manufacturers name their products according to allegedly popular women’s names. In this week’s Macy’s sale flier, I noticed they are selling “Maliaa” boots and “Brena” slingbacks. They sound more exotic than Audrey flats (#9) or Penelope pumps (#30). Another store was selling “Tina” bar stools. Probably an inside joke about somebody’s barfly ex-girlfriend. The best way to win the name game is by choosing meaning over popularity. For instance, I was christened “Kristy” because my parents liked it. Ahem.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Todd
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 03:48:13

    I really like those top names. We Detroiters prefer to judge people by the cars they drive.

    Reply

  2. diffdrum
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 03:56:28

    Some people drive a BMW. Others drive a POS. Incidentally, I did not see your name on the list of most popular names. But at one time, Todd meant “hubba hubba!”

    Reply

  3. todd
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 04:15:11

    ….It still does!
    I shared your blog on my FB: Hope your server is up to the crush of readers that will result. Wait for it…. 😉

    Reply

  4. Julia Kovach
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 05:05:04

    I’m a friend of Todd’s and saw his post on Fb featuring your blog. I’m so thankful that I did because you are a great read! Your head must buzz with activity at the everyday mention of a name…whether it be a person or a product or a place even! How funny! I’d never thought of that because I’ve never had much of an interest in names, but I love your perspective! You have a wonderful writing voice and a style which allows for ease of reading…..I always appreciate a writer who keeps it simple and clean and easy for me to read! I know how difficult that is to achieve (at least for me!), and I find it to be kind of a rare thing these days. I’m looking forward to reading more from you! xoJulia

    Reply

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