Ever get the feeling that other parents are chucking their baby names books in favor of the atlas?

You’re not wrong. It’s tough to take an official count – are any of those little girl Madisons, for example, named after the town in Wisconsin? – but places both exotic and familiar are popping up on the charts these days.

So today, we’ll turn the spotlight on two all-American choices: Alabama and Indiana.Both names have much to recommend them. They’re familiar but not overused, and shorten to the appealing and simple nicknames Indy and Aly, or perhaps, Ana and Bama.

And before you dismiss them as new innovations, baby name guru Laura Wattenberg is quick to point out that back in the Victorian era, the following states’ names were all used for little girls: Tennesse, Florida, Arizona, Missouri and, yes, Indiana. To read more about names from the 1890s, check out the full post on her blog.

Alabama has plenty of starbaby flair. Actor Drea de Matteo and country star Shooter Jennings called their daughter Alabama Gypsyrose; former Miss USA Shanna Moakler and rocker Travis Barker are parents to Alabama Luella.

And before the starbabies made their debuts, Quention Tarantino’s 1993 film True Romance featured a character of the same name. (Patricia Arquette played that particular Alabama, starring opposite Christian Slater as unlikely tough-guy Clarence.)

It’s a state, of course, but the state bears the name of a Native American tribe. In turn, the state has given its name to country music group Alabama. And, of course, the megahit Sweet Home Alabama was recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The result is a name that is sweet and feminine, though perhaps a bit Southern-fried. It could come across as spirited and unusual – a fresher version of Georgia. Yet this choice seems less than sophisticated. It’s not quite calling your child Chardonnay, but it isn’t Elizabeth, either.

While Alabama is quite clearly reserved for girls, Indiana seems to be one of the few truly gender neutral names.

It’s also, of course, the 19th state and the nickname of college professor and adrenaline-junkie archeologist Henry Jones. With the fourth installment in the successful franchise set to hit theaters in May 2008, this name might be poised for a surge.

Indiana is a starbaby choice, too – Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix called their firstborn son Indiana August.

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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