Susan: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on April 7, 2014

SusanFormer favorites week kicks off with a name that dominated US rankings in the 1950s and 60s.

Thanks to Catherine for suggesting Susan as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Sunday Summary: 14th of 2014

by appellationmountain on April 6, 2014

Sunday SummaryHappy Sunday!  Spring has finally arrived in Washington DC, and that means we’re close to Mother’s Day, and that means that we’re close to the Social Security Administration’s annual release of 2013 baby name data.  That’s not a national holiday, but it certainly comes close to one around these parts.

While I dream about data, let’s look at some of the most interesting bits from the name ‘verse:

  • Isabelly, Emanuelly, Nicolly, Kamilly, Gabrielly - one trend leapt out at me from the list of names big in Brazil.  I’m fascinated by ends-with-lly.  Some of them sound like cutesy nicknames in American English – especially Isabelle.  But the idea of changing an -a ending to a -y is old school.  In medieval English, Cecily and Margery emerged as everyday use forms of more formal Latinate names Cecilia and Margaret.  And I’ve often thought about Alexandrie and Leocadie.
  • DesignMom’s Living with Kids series goes to Holland!  Parents are Susanne and Hans, and their boys are called Ard and Joost.  I love the sound of Joost!
  • Duana’s advice is spot-on – there are nickname-resistant names, but there’s no such thing as a name that can’t be shifted and molded into an affectionate, silly form.  Trust me on this one.
  • I’ve tried this challenge before, and I find it incredibly difficult!  There’s my beloved Rosemary, but the corresponding boy name is Dayton.  Not for me, thanks.  Dante shares his rank with Sierra - not bad, but not one I’d ever consider.  I’ve narrowed it down to Josephine and Axel - except Axel clashes with my firstborn’s name, so it wouldn’t be a possibility in real life.  Still, the new Top 1000 lists page – of both the most recent SSA data and the Nameberry version, too – is super-useful!
  • Love this line from Laura Wattenberg’s latest analysis of name frequency: “... the defining characteristic of this naming era is parents’ desire to feel that their child’s name is distinctive.”
  • Is Lennon masculine or feminine?  I voted unisex in this poll at Upswing Baby Names.  As for Lachlan, I agree he’s masculine when spelled Lachlan.  But respell it Locklyn, and it is a new possibility for girls, thanks in part to Vince Vaughn’s 2010 arrival of daughter Locklyn Kyla.
  • Oh, those British birth announcements – three girls called Mia, plus a Maia and a Nia, twin boys called Kai and Loki, and a Bertie Alexander.
  • I like the idea of Ellison, nickname Elsie, though I do think the obvious formal name isn’t on Sophie’s list – it’s Elisabeth, but spelled with an ‘s’ instead of Elizabeth.
  • Names inspired by Buddhism at Baby Name Pondering – and they’re astonishingly wearable, aren’t they?
  • An interesting take on names verging on extinction in Britain.  Are Gertrude and Cecil gone for good?
  • Speaking of names out of fashion, next week will have a special theme – it is Former Favorites week!  There are so many previously popular names that have yet to be featured at AppMtn.  A few weeks ago, I threw out a question to the Facebook community, and I’ve taken your suggestions to feature four names that once commanded the spotlight.

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!


Elsa, Liza, and Betsy: The Many Faces of Elizabeth

by appellationmountain on April 4, 2014

ElizabethsLast year, I wrote a post about the Many Faces of Adelaide.  After writing yet another post about a name related to Adelaide, it hit me that there were so many forms of the name, from obscure forms long out of use to diminutives that were unfamiliar – but wearable – in English.

In a recent Facebook thread, Sarah mentioned that the same was true for Elizabeth, and suggested I write a similar post about this venerable name.

It seemed daunting at first.  As any good name nerd knows, Isabella and Elizabeth are cousins.  But which is the variant, and which is the original?  It is a harder question to answer than you might guess, so for this post, I’m considering Isabella a separate name – that just happens to share many of these nicknames and variants.

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Calder: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on April 3, 2014

CalderHe’s an ends-in-r surname with artistic and athletic sides.

Thanks to Kelli for suggesting Calder as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Hayes: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on April 2, 2014

Johnny Hayes 1910 Mecca Cigarettes Champion At...He’s cousin to Aidan, heir to Brooks.

Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Hayes as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Ellis: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on April 1, 2014

EllisHe’s a stylish surname name, with great meanings and an on-trend sound.

Thanks to Emily for suggesting Ellis as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Levi: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on March 31, 2014

LeviEditor’s note: This post was originally published on July 9, 2008.  It was substantially revised and reposted on March 31, 2014.

He’s a little bit Biblical, a little bit blue jean.

Thanks to Another for suggesting Levi as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Sunday Summary: 13th of 2014

by appellationmountain on March 30, 2014

Sunday SummaryMy family spends a lot of time on ice.  Blame it on my Michigander husband, or maybe the Swedish grandfather I never met.  Ice skating is winter’s consolation prize – my favorite sport, bar none, possibly because it involves wearing layers, many of which are knit.

I tell you this because our daughter’s season wraps up this weekend, with a big ol’ show complete with costumes and choreographed routines.  As we stood in the endless, snaking line to gain admission to the Saturday ice show, I struck up conversation with a nice grandfatherly type.  He told me his skating granddaughter’s name was Roslyn.  I confirmed the spelling – R-O-S-L-Y-N? “Yes.  Her parents named her after a small town in Washington.  And her middle name …”

Clearly, this was a conversation that needed to be pursued.  But wouldn’t you know it?  The line started moving pretty much right then.

But it reminded me that every name has a story, and that’s the whole point of Appellation Mountain.  I’m grateful that I know more of the stories than ever since I started writing here.

Elsewhere online:

  • Someone mentioned Rowan in a comment on the Facebook page yesterday, fretting that it had “gone girl.”  Except that it hasn’t.  According to Nancy’s chart, nearly twice as many boys received the name in 2012.  Do our anxieties about baby names going girl turn into self-fulfilling prophecies?
  • What’s your favorite formal name for Ann?  I’d probably use Anneliese, or maybe Diana.  And I’d use Anya before Annie or Ann.  But this list at NameSplash has some out-of-the-box possibilities for getting to Ann.
  • There’s out-of-the-box, but how about off-of-the-map?  Not in a mapless way, but in a not-really-on-the-map-to-begin-with way: fictional place names that could make good given names at Roses & Cellar Doors.  My faves are Avalon, Gallifrey (from Doctor Who) and, a new arrival, Arendelle, the land that Queen Elsa rules in Frozen.
  • Speaking of Frozen – NameCandy reported their production babies.  Just as awesome as the Pixar lists.
  • Oh, this essay!  From YingYing to Eva, a very American story, and one about the importance of names.  “Picking a name and living with that name is intensely personal, because a name reflects so much of your identity.”
  • No one covers sporting names like Kelli, and this list is simply delicious – names of the women who played in All American Girls Baseball League, for teams like the Kenosha Comets and the South Bend Blue Sox.
  • DesignMom has an interview with Madelon, a Dutch Instagrammer with kiddos called Sylvester and Reva.  Love that duo!
  • Let’s go time traveling back to 1986 with British Baby Names, only to discover that births announced in the Times were completely ahead of the curve.  Hello, Cosmo, Effieand Tarquin.
  • There’s an Australian cockatoo called the Corella.  I agree with Anna – what a great name possibility!
  • Speaking of possibilities - Violaine, anyone?  Maybe for the middle spot?
  • Lastly, thanks to each and everyone for voting in March Madness 2014, and congratulations to Cora and Everett on their triumphs!

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!


Favorite Baby Names 2014: March Madness Winners!

by appellationmountain on March 29, 2014

MarchMadness2014The votes are in, and the baby names of the year are decided!

If you’ve been following the voting, you probably already know which names were victorious.  But let’s take a look back at the elite group of names they’ll join:

  • In the inaugural year of competition, Louisa and Nathaniel took the prize.
  • In 2012, the honors went to Genevieve and Arthur.
  • Last year, you voted Isla and Archer to the podium.

How have these names trended in real life?  In some ways it is difficult to say – because of the lag in Social Security Administration data, the most current year we can compare is 2012.  Still, we can see hints and patterns.  Let’s take a look:

2011 Favorite Baby Names

Louisa remains outside the US Top 1000 as of 2012′s data, but is definitely seeing an increase in use.  Nathaniel is her opposite – he was solidly established by the time 2011 March Madness launched, and continues to be heavily used, though he’s declining in the rankings.

2012 Favorite Baby Names

This time you chose the safer name for girls.  Genevieve had climbed quickly coming into 2012, while Arthur was just starting to emerge from style limbo.  My guess is that we’ll see some positive motion for him when the 2013 stats are released.  But for now, the numbers don’t demonstrate his growing appeal.

2013 Favorite Baby Names

Of course, the voters in March Madness aren’t all American – or even English-speaking!  Isla has long been a mega-hit outside of the US, but she’s a recent arrival on our shores.  No matter, though – even the 2012 data shows that Isla was spiking.  The same is true of Archer.  He’s another undeniably ahead-of-the-curve choice for a boy.

Who joins them in 2014?  Drumroll, please …

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Walker, Walton, and Winchester: W Surname Names

by appellationmountain on March 28, 2014

W Surname NamesSurname names are stylish – just look at Jackson, Mason, Hunter and the rest of the US Top 100.

For girls, I’m all about H.  And hello, Harper, Harlow, and Hadley, I think the rest of the world seems to agree.

If there is one letter I love for boys’ surname names, it has to be W.  I’ll blame it on two long-time loves, Watson and Walton.  But there are so many possibilities that this letter just feels endless.

Of course, there’s one W who springs to mind – George W. Bush, former Texas governor and 43rd President of the United States.

Now you might argue that “Dubya” didn’t do the middle initial any favors.  To this, I submit the following: politics aside, he was the president.  And it hasn’t harmed William any, a name that remains as classic as classic can be.  So W is a go-to middle initial, whether you’re a big fan of the Bush family, or not.

Enough about middles now.  Any of the names on this list might be middle name material, but I’m interested in the possibility of promoting these surnames from the last spot to the first.

Read on for some wild, wonderful W surname names.

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