Into every generation a vampire romance is born. That’s usually not big news in baby naming circles.
But the current hot series about the undead – Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight – could influence baby names for the next generation.
The 1960s gave us gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire hit the big screen in 1994. Forever Knight came along in the early 1990s. Buffy slayed ’em on the big screen in 1992, and on television from 1997 to 2003. Twilight was first published in 2005, with the movie adaptation following in 2008, just a few months after the fourth and final installment in the series was published.
Many of the names found in the vampire tales wouldn’t translate well into modern day culture. Calling your son Lestat or Spike seems over-the-top at best. Other names are fairly ordinary. Forever Knight’s vampire-cop was called Nick. Dark Shadows featured a (human) heroine named Julia – though the actress who played her used the ahead-of-her-time stage name Grayson.
Buffy did launch a few names, including Willow and Xander. But that’s nuthin’ compared to the potential influence of Stephenie Meyer’s series. The names she’s chosen for her characters are an intriguing assortment of the everyday and the unusual.
Edward – the immortal vampire and boy-next-door boyfriend to Bella. He’s one of a family of vamps who choose to be good despite their instincts. Edward ranked #129 in 2004; he’s fallen to #157 since then, but could very well rise, just like Charles, Henry and other classics-worn-by-kings.
Cullen – Edward’s last name, taken from the head of his family. It’s an authentic Irish surname that hovered near the 500s in the mid-90s. As of 2012, he stands at #551.
Carlisle – Edward’s father, at least in vampiric terms. He works as a doctor to make amends for his past. Carlisle hasn’t charted in the US Top 1000 since the nineteenth century, but he has potential – as does nearly any surname-sounding pick these days.
Jasper – Another member of the Cullen clan. He’s quite fashionable, gaining steadily over the last few years to chart at #452 in 2008, and #264 in 2012. But Jasper owes less to the novels and more to the revival of nineteenth century favorites and his ends-with-r sound.
Emmett – The last of the Cullen boys. And just like brother Jasper, his popularity is more closely linked to the nineteenth century revival than things that go bump in the night. As of 2008, Emmett ranked #547. It had bounded up to #186 in 2012.
Charlie – Bella’s dad, the local police chief in small-town Forks, where much of the series takes place. Presumably Charlie is short for Charles, but I don’t think it ever comes up. It’s quite the current choice, though he’s failed to return to his prior place in the Top Ten. As of 2012, Charles came in at #62, while nickname Charlie ranked a respectable #233.
Laurent, James – A pair of bad vampires who menace our heroes before getting their comeuppance.
Jacob – Bella’s best friend, who eventually fulfills his ancestral promise and transforms into a werewolf. Jacob has also been the undisputed #1 pick for boys since 1999, and that’s without counting Jakob, Jake and Jacoby.
Sam – Leader of the local wolf pack. Samuel ranked #25 in 2012, while nickname Sam came in at #518. This name is actually falling in use, but it is possible that the noble werewolf could inspire a few parents.
Paul, Embry, Quil, Jared, Collin, Brady – Other wolves. As a set, their names range from the evergreen Paul to the popular Brady to the unusual Quil. But none of them are major characters, so it is tough to say if Twilight alone will push them into the spotlight. The currently unranked Embry feels like a contender.
Seth – A junior werewolf who befriends the Cullens early. Seth is actually falling in use, coming in at #209 in 2012. But since Seth fails to appear until the later novels – and thus hasn’t yet appeared on the big screen – it is possible that he’ll get a boost later on.
Ephraim – Jacob’s ancestor, the last of the werewolves from the prior generation. He’s frequently referenced but not seen.
Aro, Marcus, Caius – A trio of bad-news vamps known as the Volturi. They act as royalty – and a sort of judge, jury and executioner for their kind. Aro seems too far out for most parents to consider. Caius might be wearable. And Marcus is well-established, ranking #149 in 2012. (Demarcus and Jamarcus chart, too, but I’ve yet to meet a vampire answering to either variant.)
Felix, Demetri, Alec – Henchmen of the Volturi. Felix has transitioned from “cat” and “neat freak” to become quite the stylish appellation and, at #316, still not terribly overused in the US. Demetri and Alec are also promising picks, unranked and charting at #448, respectively.
Tyler, Mike, Eric – Classmates of Bella and Edward. They feature prominently in Twilight, but fade into the background during later novels.
Vladimir, Stefan, Liam, Alistair, Charles, Amun, Benjamin, Eleazar, Garrett, Peter, Randall – The Twilight world is full of vampires, with names ranging from the unassuming Liam to the dangerous Vladimir.
Bella – the heroine of the series. She’s actually Isabella Marie, but we only hear her called that when her father is worried that she’s stayed out too late with her fanged fiancee. At #122 in 2008, Bella is deceptive – she doesn’t seem nearly as popular as she is. Besides a nickname for the chart-topper Isabella, girls called Annabel, Arabella and sometimes even Gabrielle answer to this appealing diminutive.
Renee – Bella’s mom. She spends most of the series in sunny, non-vamp-accommodating locales like Arizona and Florida. While she’s still charting at #897, Renee is mostly used as a middle name these days.
Alice – Hard to imagine, but here’s one more reason to embrace this lovely name. (As if Tina Fey and Lewis Carroll weren’t incentive enough!) She’s Edward’s sister. Not only is Alice an immortal vampire, she’s a psychic, too. Wonder if she knows how high her name will climb? As of 2012, she ranked #127.
Esme – Her name was already trending fashionable when Meyer chose it for Edward’s kind-hearted vampire mom, but could supernova in the coming years. While she’s not a central character, she appears consistently – and parents can always claim they were really thinking of the JD Salinger short story. She ranked #977 in 2012.
Rosalie – Another Cullen vampire, just a smidge older than Alice and Edward. In life, she was already drop-dead gorgeous. She’s Bella’s ally in the fourth and final novel, Breaking Dawn.
Emily – She’s the true love of Sam the werewolf – and, of course, the recently unseated #1 name for girls born in the US.
Victoria – A red-headed vampire, she hunts Bella for part of the series. While you probably won’t name your daughter after this baddie, the name remains a popular classic, ranking #28 in 2012.
Jane, Heidi – Female members of the Volturi inner circle. At #340, Jane is the new Kate. Miss Klum may be Runway Royalty, but Heidi remains in fashion limbo – hovering near the 300s, neither gaining nor falling.
Gianna – An ordinary human being – save that she works as a sort of receptionist for the Volturi, at least until she ends up on the menu. Gianna was already on the rise when the books were published. She now stands at #73, steadily inching up in recent years.
Leah – Another one of the La Push werewolves, the only female in memory. She becomes another unlikely ally of Bella’s in Book Four. Just like Gianna, Leah was popular pre-series. In 2012, she ranked #33.
Renesmee – It would take a superfan to bestow this one on a daughter. It’s a mash-up of Renee and Esme, chosen by Bella as the name for her baby girl. The pronunciation is ruh NEZ may – a bit much, though the nickname Nessie is sweet. It goes without saying that Renesmee has never charted in the US Top 1000.
Carlie – Renesmee’s middle name, this time honoring grandfathers Charlie and Carlisle. Carlie came in at #894 last year, while variant Carly was #285. And yup, Carlee ranks, too (#760), as do Karli, Karly, Karlee, Karley and Karlie, though most of them are slipping in recent years. Again, this trend was in place well before Bella met Edward.
Lauren, Jessica, Angela – Bella’s human friends in smalltown Forks – the female equivalents of Tyler, Mike and Eric.
Siobhan, Carmen, Kate, Irina, Maggie, Makenna, Tia, Kebi, Charlotte, Mary, Zafrina, Senna, Kachiri – More vampires, ranging from the exotic Zafrina to the current Kate. They’re minor characters, but a few – Zafrina especially – might find themselves in use thanks to the novels.
Lastly there’s the author herself – Stephenie. During Stephanie’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, this alt spelling appeared occasionally. Maybe that’s because of all those fathers out there named Stephen – just like the Ms. Meyer’s dad. If I were to wager, I’d say that Stephenie won’t make a comeback any time soon.
That’s okay, though – she’s more than put her stamp on the next generation.
I meant no offense or stereotyping (I grew up Idaho LDS too)! I tried to emphasize the “classic”-nature of the naming (something we have a lot of in our family tree, however it’s back a couple generations). More modern naming typically isn’t done this way, and most of my friends had, at least what I considered, fairly normal names.
Preston is a name that was first popular in Utah, same with Braxton, Tyler, and even Emily and Kylie. I only meant to say, living in Utah (aka, going to school at BYU) and being Mormon gives you access to an entirely different culture of naming than most people. Again, I meant no offense!
Kylie, I apologize – I’m basing pretty much my sum knowledge of “LDS names” on one website and one Mormon. Not every Puritan named their kid Flee-Fornication, not every hippie birthed a little moonbeam and not every Catholic has a Mary Catherine.
As a Mormon from Idaho but currently living in Utah – I just wanted to defend, once again, the lumping and stereotyping. Actually, I don’t know ANY Mormons who have mashed their parents names together to arrive at their child’s name. That doesn’t mean it never happens, but I don’t think it’s all that common. I grew up with Mormon friends Preston, Jason, Maxwell, Erica, and Erin. All nice and normal. My sister, a Utah Mormon as well, named her daughter Stella 3 years ago, before the trend really took off, and is planning to name the next one Leo provided he’s a boy. Anyhow, not trying to be obnoxious, just putting in my two-bits. 🙂
I find in all the discussion of “Twilight” names, mention of Meyer’s cultural/religious exposure to naming shockingly unmentioned. Being LDS and going to BYU, Meyer’s brings unique perspective. Renesmee, blending mom and mother-in-law’s names is classic LDS naming, as is blending both parents names (Caroldean, daughter of Dean and Carol) or feminizing or your father’s name (Ronda/Danetta, daughter of Ron/Dan or Stephenie’s spelling being directly feminizing her dad Stephen).
Utah is the mecca for creative naming, having many super popular names start out popular in Utah (Brielle is currently in Utah’s top 100). Different sounding, creatively spelled, unique names abound in the west. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that Siobhan, Makenna, Tia, Kebi, Charlotte, Zafrina, Senna, and Kachiri are names that Meyer heard a lot or knew someone with.
There is a very interesting web site “The Utah Baby Namer” http://wesclark.com/ubn/ (An online help for parents looking for that distinctive name that says “I’m a Utah Mormon!”) that has lists of these uniquely Utah monikers. They point out the new millennium boys tend to fall into the creative last name as first name (Braxton, Tylon). Rather than thinking Renesmee was something an 18-19 year old would find cute, I found my self thinking, that name is SO Utah.
Nice point, Elle! I’d forgotten about the Utah Baby Namer. The first Mackenzie I ever knew was my age – mid30s – and yup, she was LDS from Utah.
You’re quite right about Renesmee – thanks for that!
Emmy Jo says
I’ve never read the Twilight books or seen the movie, but I’ve heard plenty of the name hype over at Yahoo! Answers and such (and I recently wrote an advice column post for my blog on how to pull off using one of these names without coming off as a Twilight fan).
Overall, I do like a lot of the names from the book, but it has nothing to do with Twilight. Edward is a top-contender on our own boys’ list, simply because I like its old-fashioned style and it’s my brother’s middle name.
I’m not incredibly worried about Twilight sparking a huge rise in the popularity of these names. As many have mentioned, Alice, Jasper, Emmett and the like were already coming back into style before the books were published. Plus, the series seems to be targeted at young teens, and the average age for having one’s first child in the U.S. is 25. It’s likely that by the time these teenagers are ready to have kids, they’ll have moved on to liking some other names. I certainly don’t have the same favorites list that I had ten years ago.
I have no interest in the books; I tried to read one, and I felt that not only could I not relate, they just weren’t very good. Meyer definitely used an appealling range of names, though. I can still completely appreciate the whole underwordly, prince-of-darkness kind of vibe, just not via this series. Bauhaus’ “Bella Lugosi is Dead?” Yes. Twilight? Not so much. Which reminds me, I need to go brandish my cane and yell at the neighborhood hooligans to stay off of my lawn.
Yes, I’m old, too. 😉
A lot of the names used in Twilight were already popular or trending that way. I haven’t actually read the books, so I probably wouldn’t make the connection.
Jasper is my second favorite “cowboy name”, after Wyatt. Yeah, too common. I like them anyway.
I loved the name Rosalie even before twilight but now I fear it will become too common and overused.
I agree in part about a 19 year old choosing that sort of name for a child however I am 19 and love classic names, sadly though most teenagers go fo the “kute” or “trendyee” options when naming their children – Renesmee being a typical example of this.
Sorry, Natalie. I didn’t mean to disparage all 19 y.o.s or imply that it will impossible to have classic taste in your younger years.
And the youngest mom that I know – she was 19 when her daughter was born – chose the name Annabel.
I don’t know if a lot of these will rocket up the charts. I think any number of twilight influenced people would be balanced out by people reluctant to name their baby something tied to twilight. Even I now am having a hard time liking Edward like I was pre-twilight level. It just leaves a stupid image in my head now, you know? I think Rosalie and Cullen have the biggest chance of benefiting by more exposure, although I dunno about Cullen, it’s so extremely tied to Twilight.
As for Renesmee, no fears – I have never seen a name so loudly and unanimously lambasted every time it came up in namenerd conversation. Pretty much everyone thinks it’s the worst name ever. It’s kind of puzzling to me. I agree that it’s bad, but it’s not particularly /ugly/, is it? And is it much different from the other combination names – Anneliese, Hannelore? It’s more awkward, certainly, but jeez, she could have named the baby Braxtyn Maree or something, which is IMO a lot more typical of immature teenage mothers than combining the grandparents’ names. Carlie is lolunfortunate.
Audeline, I think some parents LOVE mash-up names. Over on Yahoo!Answers, you’ll often see something like: “My name is Tiffany and my boyfriend’s name is Jeff. What can we name our kids?” And while I’ll think the answers are monstrous – Jeffanie, Teffan, what-have-you, they will get a lot of thumbs up from some.
And I guess I’d add a third group – those parents blissfully unaware of the whole Twilight phenomenon!
I only read the books because I caved to my SIL’s nagging and gushing about them! 🙂 I sort of hate that Meyer used such nice names, as they’re certain to shoot up the chartrs. the popularity doesn’t bother me at all reaally, it’s just the connotation with the books, and if you name your daughter Esme in the next couple of years, you’ll most likely hear “Ooh- like in twilight?” quite a few times.
The books themselves sucked me in whilst I was reading them, but I wouldn’t read them again; they’re not *that* spectacular, IMHO! Anyway, Alice has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid, and I really quite like Jasper, Edward, Esme, Rosalie and Jane as well. I really don’t like Isabella – prefering Isabel, and Belle – but with her, Bella, Isabelle and Annabelle all in our Top 100, Bella definitely feels as popular as she is down here!
Ugh, tacky is right Photoquilty! It was so horrid, I’m fairly certain I cringed whenever I saw it printed 🙂 Her mn is Carlie too, like a smush of Carlile and Charlie, which makes it even worse.
Photoquilty – As for the baby, if I remember correctly, Edward would only consider turning Bella into a vampire if they got married – then they had a honeymoon, and Bella wanted to sleep with Edward, hence baby! 🙂
Exactly, SophieGray. I think even the evergreen Edward might hear that response.
And PQ, Sophie’s explanation is correct. They wait ’til they’ve tied the knot. But before they can head off to Dartmouth, they discover that the facts of life STILL apply to a vampire and a human being – only the human mother will never survive giving birth. Renesmee’s birth causes Bella’s death – and vampification, if you’ll excuse the word.
My thought on Renesmee is this – it is very, very much the kind of name a 19 year old would choose for a child.
So it’s basically a series preaching the importance of waiting until you’re married to have sex – and if you really want to have sex, then marry young? Did I get it right? LOL
I’d say AppMtn got Renesmee on the nose.
Alice is definitely usable (it’s such a sweet name!), and with the upswing of old-fashioned names on the rise, I’d be more apt to connect it to that trend than to Twilight.
When you put it that way, PQ … yes. Yes, I think that’s it. Of course, the vampire family Bella marries into also has unimaginable wealth, so that’s part of the equation – marry very young into a family with sufficient financial means and reproduce immediately.
Why does this series suddenly remind me of the Duggars?
And it is true – with many names Meyer has merely tapped into the passion for old-fashioned names, not sparked one.
I know someone who recently named her daughter Rosalee. She’s never read Twilight as far as I know. I’ve only read the first book (and declined to read the others – too VC-Andrews-minus-sex-plus-teen-angst for me! My friends kept saying that these books were great, even adults could love them, but not this adult.) so wasn’t aware of all the names. I guess the series is why I frequently see Gianna on the Y!A boards. Thanks for explaining that one! As for Renesmee – well, tacky isn’t even the word!
Someone please explain the baby. I thought these books were all about not having sex?