The Delicate Arch, a natural arch near Moab, Utah
The Delicate Arch, a natural arch near Moab, Utah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love a birth announcement round-up from Utah.  As much as I like to think that we do some excellent baby-naming on the East Coast, the truth is that American West – the mountain west, the rugged frontier – is really the most innovative of name locales.  Check out these finds: Aree, Coven, Dace, Emsley, Thacker, Jetstan, Colter, Krag, O’Klen, Roxlynn, Tak, Vyvyn.  Not my style, but I appreciate how the definition of a normal name is just plain different out there.

The state indexes bear this out, too.  Yes, there are still plenty of kids called William and Emma in Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, but check out their Top 100s: Kyler, Bridger, Daxton, Bentley, Jace, Braxton, Ryker, and Lane.

The girls’ lists are equally creative: London, Ashlyn, Aspen, Oakley, Rylee, Brynlee, Brielle, Kenzie, and Zoey.

Not all of the names are nouveau, either, and plenty of them earn applause amongst mainstream namers and here at AppMtn, too.  Asher, Wyatt, and Easton; Lydia, Isla, and PiperMason is #1 in Utah and Montana.

The middle is the creative edge.  It may also be the best place to look for names set to rise elsewhere in the US.

Elsewhere in baby name news:

  • Great analysis of name popularity from Laura Wattenberg.  Good news!  Even the #1 name isn’t all that popular.
  • The bad news?  Functional popularity means that just looking at the Top 100 doesn’t really tell you much.  I always think of Rebecca Woolf commenting that Phoenix was really popular in her (hip, LA) neighborhood – something you can’t predict from any data set compiled at a state or national level.  Or how sending my kids to Catholic school in the shadow of Catholic University means that we know a surprising number of kids with otherwise unusual saints’ names.
  • The just plain fascinating: what we really think and believe is illustrated most clearly by our baby name choices, more so than by the cars we drive or many other behaviors.  This is really rather obvious to those of us who spend time soaking up name data, but it is a surprise to civilians.  When I learn someone’s name, I have a decent shot at guessing an awful lot about that person’s background.  I don’t judge, but I do know – or I think I know, and that has its possibilities and pitfalls for everybody.
  • And so I’ll say it again – if you want a name that blends in, the classics are really the only way to go, and that’s a pretty short list.  The boys’ classics are here.  The girls’ list is even shorter.
  • Daddy Types found evidence of a baby girl called Felony.  I would’ve dismissed this one as an urban myth, but maybe not …
  • Elizadie is gorgeous.  Ditto Estelline, Evance, and Emmelise, all from Eponymia’s exploration of Old Quebec names.
  • Another E name that I find swoon-worthy: Elizaveta.  Also on the same list of birth announcements: Leif Archer, a name that would fit very well with my personal shortlist.  Plus another girl named Scout.  Seriously, that one is catching on along with the rest of the To Kill a Mockingbird names.
  • Tabrett – a sister for Piper?
  • Navy has real potential as a color name, for a boy or a girl.  But respelled Navi, I start to think it is some other name entirely.
  • Another Australian sports name, this time of an athlete: Braith.  I think he’s wearable in the US, and on trend – though maybe not likely to be discovered.
  • Copeland is a family name!
  • Oh, and thanks to Waltzing More Than Matilda for teaching me something.  I’ve been quite dismissive of Braxton, a name on the rise that for me is eternally paired with “Hicks contractions” and as such unwearable.  But it’s a surname of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Seriously.  I suppose I need to rethink this one ..
  • Adore these Ezra sibsets at British Baby Names.  Ezra and Arlo work really well for brothers, I think, and there are some delicious Biblical obscurities mixed in.

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

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. Thank you!

    Question, Elizadie….any more info on that one? I am looking for a name with substance and roots, is it too much of an Eliza add on?

    1. So, I got the idea from a down-at-the-heels aristocratic in the Flavia de Luce novels. But I thought the name was more Old Hollywood glamor ala Harlow (without the Harlow/Harlot problem.) I think it would be pretty usable.

  2. Ever since Braxton skyrocketed madly, and now everyone seems to know at least one baby named Braxton, I keep hearing from people that they “know someone” with the surname Hicks who called their son Braxton. (Never any details, just a vague someone).

    It must be the new urban myth to replace La-a.

    1. I can attest to there being at least one! My good friend has a little boy on her street (last name is spelled with an x not -cks though). And it has been hard, because if I ever want to tell anyone about it I’m starting to get the “Pssh, yeah heard that one before” reaction. And I want to drag them to his house and have him introduce himself! But that would be terrible, lol.

    2. Maybe it is the new La-a!

      I’ve yet to meet a Braxton, but there was one in the local Elevation Burger a few weeks ago. He kept toddling off and his mom kept calling “Braxxxxton.” He was a cute kid, so I sort of got the appeal … (Mom was pregnant, too, and I was dying to ask her about names, but really, that would have been weird. Even by my standards.)

      1. Yes too weird even by my standards too!

        Oh another thing I keep hearing online is mothers who said they actually named their son Braxton after their Braxton Hicks contractions. This may not be myth (I can’t tell), but it’s certainly weird.

  3. My brain malfunctioned and I read Elizadie as Elizadaisy. Now I think Elizadaisy/Eliza-Daisy would be a cute double barrel name.

    Also Navi makes me think of Zelda…

  4. From the Globe article – “If you treasure the sweet, unique story of how your parents named you, it can be unsettling to think of their decision as nothing more than a data point in an unstoppable national trend….”

    I really don’t like that. Even if the parents choose Olivia over great-grandma Frances partly because the sound is more stylish, the fact is they did purposefully choose a family name, and it doesn’t take away any real connections they have to the source of the inspiration.

    1. That’s a nice point. The story ALWAYS matters, even if other factors push your parents away from Frances …

  5. I have a Braxton and a Braxtyn (b) in my family… Since I spent 3 months dealing with pre-term contractions, I’ll never be able to think of those as names.

    Neighborhood popularity, today’s baby announcements had Emmett James, Emmit James and Emmett Charles. If their parents had looked at the SSI, they should felt pretty safe at a ranking of #221.

    Sibling for Piper — Havilland

    1. Wow – what a lot of Emmetts! That’s exactly what I mean …

      Ha to de Havilland, but Havilland really is kind of an appealing sound, isn’t it?