English: The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhat...
English: The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two and a half million people call Brooklyn home, and in 2011, more than 7,000 baby girls were given the name.  I’m guessing that none of those 7,000 girls reside in New York – or at least not in Flatbush.

The Hated Names series continues with a very popular place name.  Our Baby Name of the Day is Brooklyn.

The Dutch founded Breuckelen back in the 1600s, naming it after a place in the Netherlands.  More information than that is open to debate.  Some connect Breuckelen to broek – marsh.  Or maybe a word meaning broken land.  Either way, the spelling was probably influenced by the English word brook.  The settlement grew and grew, and Brooklyn has been part of New York City since 1898.

But how did Brooklyn become a girl’s name?  Besides the 7,115 girls named Brooklyn, we also find:

  • Nearly 2400 called Brooklynn
  • Almost 200 named Brookelynn
  • Nearly as many named Brookelyn

The spellings give it away: to find the secret to her success, we need to first look at Brooke   

Socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor made her name famous – though she was born Roberta Russell.  Brooke was her middle name, and Vincent Astor her third husband.  She was tremendously generous with the Astor fortune, and kept the name in the spotlight in an almost entirely positive fashion through the decades.  Then along came Brooke Shields, with her Calvins and her successful, scandalous movies – in which she somehow managed to still seem smart and together, unlike many a child star.

At the same time, Lynn and Lynne were wildly popular middle names for girls.  No doubt that some girls were named Brooke Lynn by parents who realized the joke only afterwards.

Of course, ends-in-lyn names for girls have always had some currency, from Evelyn to Marilyn to Carolyn.  Brooke entered the US Top 100 in 1987, and Brooklyn was right behind her, joining the rankings in 1990.

Other -lyns of the moment included:

  • Caitlin at #50, soon to be eclipsed by more phonetic Katelyn, at #75 and Kaitlyn, at #78
  • Jaclyn and Jacklyn, though the authentically French Jacqueline was more popular than her simplified sisters

Brooklyn as a name was boosted by two high profile uses:

  • The Brook Lynn connection reached pop culture in 1996, when a General Hospital character was given the name.  Rebellious teenager rock star wannabe Brook Lynn Ashton was supposedly named after her mother’s birthplace.
  • In 1999, Posh and Becks named the first of their four starbabies Brooklyn Joseph, giving the name to a son.  Apparently the new mum was in Brooklyn when she learned she was expecting.

Countless fictional and real figures keep the name in the spotlight, like actress Brooklyn Decker – born in 1987, when the name could still be called original.

Today, while the New York borough has its passionate devotees, few imagine it as a beauty spot, likely to inspire a child’s name.  And that’s not really what’s happening, either.  Her sound is feminine, but frills-free, making her a successor to Lauren, Allison and Erin.  Few parents are wandering around Williamsburg or Park Slope with Brooklyn on their short lists – but lots of parents likely embrace her sound and don’t mind her association with a part of the world that while gritty, seems edgy, artistic, and cool, too.

New Yorkers might not like this name, but it is easy to see why she’s caught on nearly everywhere else.

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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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What do you think?


  1. My name is Brooklin, I’m from Saskatchewan and my name didn’t mean anything out there. I wasn’t ever crazy about it either. I moved to Ontario for my boyfriend and was a server in a bar. The amount of times my name was commented on pretty much every shift was crazy. Standard question: “Is that your real name?” I’d just be like.. Yeah.. I thought it was so strange, like what do you mean is that your real name, I eventually started asking people why do you ask kinda thing. They just never heard of it or thought it was some stripper related trick. Lots of people would joke “like New York?” I’d say for the hundredth time “no like Ontario” pretend I loved it for a hopefully higher tip. It’s made me absolutely fall in love with my name I like having a somewhat controversial name.

  2. I hate Brooklyn more than Nevaeh, Mackenzie, Jayden, or any other “most hated” names. It’s just incredibly, unbelievably, caricature-ishly tacky. I’ve lived the majority of my life less than 15 miles away from Brooklyn (the borough,) and it’s just like naming your child “NewYorkCity” to me. I find it very aspirational and uncultured, maybe because lots of suburban people from NJ, PA, Connecticut, and upstate NY think they’re SO COOL when they have anything to do with the city and I find it an annoying and silly attitude.

    I don’t mean to insult any Brooklyn fans out there, I just really can’t stand this name. But I suppose that’s why there’s vanilla and chocolate, or, in this case, Brooklyn and Beatrice.

    1. I don’t even know how to respond to this. People from those places think they’re cool when they go to the city?

      This is my third rewrite because the things you posted just make no sense and I keep trying to address them, but it’s like, there’s no way to cut through the nonsense.

      1. I don’t understand what you mean, but I’d be glad to clarify my original post if you have a specific question.

  3. I like Caitlin and Aislinn but I find -lyn/-lynn a worrying suffix tacked onto most modern names. It’s a bit like that scene in Ted where he’s guessing redneck names. “…is it any of the ones I just said, but with -lyn on the end?” “Yes.”

    It’s a bit like “leigh” in that regard, for me. Leigh itself is a real name. Kayleigh, Bayleigh, Ashleigh, etc.? Don’t really do it for me.

    1. I have a childhood friend who named her daughter Pre$leigh. Her son’s name is Tri$ten. Yeah, with an E.

  4. Dear friends used Brooklyn for their now 2 yo daughter’s middle name because Brooklyn (ok, Park Slope) is where they met, fell in love, got married, and conceived her. They had already moved back to the Midwest by the time she was born, so I think it was very sweetly sentimental. And it’s in the middle spot, so totally forgivable 😉
    Other than that I do see Brooklyn as just another name in the -lyn/-lynn phenomenon. Blegh. Brooke is a beautiful, frills-free name all by herself. Why oh why must so many tack on ‘lyn’ to it??