House detail II
House detail II by tillwe via Flickr

Happy fifth Sunday in July! Pardon the later-than-usual summary – I was outside in the sweltering summer heat, watching a base ball game played by 1861 rules. (Nope, that’s not a typo, either – in 1861, base ball was two words.) I resisted the urge to mentally re-name all of the players with nineteenth-century appropriate appellations, though the league manager was a 20-something guy called Howard.

Back to the present day. Nameberry generated oodles of chatter this week with their Hottest Names of 2011. Among the reactions, here’s the one that I found most intriguing: Melissa of Dear Baby shared her reaction at Babble. The list, you see, included Arlo – the name of Melissa’s newborn son. Her family also includes a daughter called Everly, a name that has generated quite a bit of buzz.

I’ve been thinking about the exact problem that she names. Many a message board comment reads something like this: “When we picked Ava in 2005, no one was using it!” That’s not so, of course – Ava was already in the Top Ten in 2005. Ava’s mom found a name she loved – a great name, really – but expected everyone else to steer clear once she’d claimed it. Irrational, at best.

Melissa’s problem is a little different. She strikes me as quite stylish, so no wonder her kids’ names are very much in vogue. But they’re not actually chart-toppers; in fact neither is currently in the US Top 1000. But now that they’re anointed as wildly fashionable monikers will they climb quickly? Will all those parents looking for an alternative to Avery embrace Everly? When your best friend announces that she’s naming her baby Leo, will you cast about for another ends-in-o option and settle on Arlo? Would we have arrived at those names on our own, or is their amped-up profiles that make us consider them? In the absence of the charts and articles and analysis, would we choose, say, Bellamy and Hugo, instead?

Elsewhere online:

  • More on Lucifer, this time from the wayback machine, courtesy of British Baby Names;
  • Bewitching Names featured Parvati, a lovely Harry Potter choice;
  • For Real spotted a baby Brisco. Law & Order fans, maybe? Rest in peace, Jerry Orbach;
  • BBC deejay Jo Whiley’s kids’ names take center stage at Mer de Noms – and really, they’re great – India remains one of my long-time favorites. I love the idea of twin daughters called India and Verity;
  • Are you following Nook of Names’ surname series? I love so many of these – Ashby and Bessemer and Brooker and Ayre
  • Nancy asks if a racing star is driving the rise of Jenson in the UK;
  • Hawaii just fascinates me. If I visited, I would head immediately from the airport to a regular ol’ playground and listen to parents calling their kids’ names. A boy Raven, a girl called Zollie Mae.

In celebrity news:

  • Selma Blair welcomed a son called Arthur Saint, and name nerds everywhere swooned. Still no backstory on Saint, though;
  • Did you know Kevin Federline is expecting baby #5, his first with new girlfriend Victoria Prince? They revealed the name: daughter Jordan will join half-siblings Kori, Kaleb, Jayden, and Preston. Not my favorite names, but I will say this – they sound like a family, not a random collection of children. There’s something to be said for that.

There should be a few more high-profile arrivals this summer, and I can’t wait to hear what Jessica Alba, Tina Fey, and January Jones choose for their little ones.

In other news, this has been, far and away, my most successful month in terms of traffic. I appreciate each and every visit!

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. Thanks for a great round-up Abby! And I have to second Christina’s comments – your write-ups are great and I always refer expecting parents here.

    About the Hottest Names of 2011 and the article, I think that if the popularity of a name is really important to you then you need to watch not only how your favorite name is trending but all of the other aspects of it as well and how those fit into current trends. Yes Arlo might not be in the Top 1000, but he’s got that really fashionable O ending and he’s old-fashioned. That is exactly what I’ve been keeping in mind about our top boy name, Moses: ends-in-S, Biblical, old-fashioned, etc. Is Moses the next Isaac? Will we care when the time comes?

    Will there suddenly be an Arlo in every classroom? I doubt it. But as you and others have written about before, birds of a feather flock together and parents who love names like Arlo tend to be friends with other parents who like names like Arlo. Just like Kayden’s parents are probably friends with Mason’s parents, not Henry’s. My 2 cents 😉

    Oh, and Dear Baby is wonderful, thanks in particular for that link!

  2. I’m from Hawaii and a name nerd 😉 I’d love to do a guest post for you about names in Hawaii! let me know if you’re interested.

  3. So glad more and more people are finding your site!

    I love referring expectant parents here. Your write-ups are always so well-written.