mc do (les petits enfants comprendront)My not-quite five year old has been on a naming spree lately.  She’s obsessed with writing nametags for various creatures.  So far this morning, she’s named the wooden rocking horse Soft Jr. and then renamed him Rocky Jr.  (I’m not clear if she understands the concept of juniors – for her, the use of junior appears to be based on the small size of the horse.)  She’s also named a Zooble Maddie, no – Fluffy.

Our ideas about names must be formed at a very early age.  For every pop culture name that takes off immediately, there are others that take twenty or thirty years to mature.  I have a hunch that some names catch on only when the children who heard them as “normal” names are now old enough to name children of their own.  It’s like the Dukes of Hazzard.  Were today’s parents unknowingly soaking up a preference for short, Southern-fried names while we watched the Duke boys outwit Boss Hogg?

If that’s the case, I fully expect to have a grandson named Bruno or Kai, after the singer or the Ninjago character.  The names that my children hear as ordinary would have been shockingly different when I was born in 1973.  Someday, they’ll have faded into the back of their memories as just names.  After a long hibernation, who knows what will be on the top of this generation’s shortlists?  Patrick, for Sponge Bob Square Pants’ bumbling starfish friend?

My children’s lives are so much more varied and global in scope than my own childhood – and I wasn’t sheltered by any stretch.  The influences they hear come in multiple languages, across many channels.

It could help explain why variety in names has accelerated.  I actively dislike the idea that “parents are trying to be unique.”  It’s so dismissive.  Sure, maybe a handful of parents are immature or misguided enough to name for shock value.  But the vast majority of us want good things for our children, and sincerely believe that a name is part of that.  We just have many more influences and inspirations than might have true a few generations back.

On to the names:

  • I’ve been wild ’bout Carnelian ever since I learned it was an alternate birthstone for July.  Isadora has it on her list of names associated with the sign Virgo.  The sound is unexpected, and oh, how I love the stones.
  • If your name was Hope, would you name your daughter Grace?  Which reminds me, there’s an old chat room tale about a family with four kids: Hope, Grace, Andrew, Faith – Hope, Grace, And, Faith.  Or whatever the birth order of the girls, but the boy was definitely #3 so he could be “and.”  Anyone know if that’s true?
  • The Beauty of Names profiled Severine.  Yes, she’s severe.  But with her great ev sound, and that French -ine ending, I think she’s wearable.
  • Funny, I was just thinking about Italian baby names for a friend who is expecting a girl early next year.  If I had it to do over again, my son’s middle name would be Matteo, and I tried to get Dante on our short list for baby #2.  (Who was a girl, who is now almost 5 and naming things herself.  See above.)  The choices for girls are really lovely.
  • I really like this list of boys’ names at PopSugar Moms, but Sebastian and Hudson currently rank in the US Top 100, and Sawyer, Maddox, and Lincoln aren’t far outside.  Jayce is #200, but Jace is #86.  And Finn comes in so many forms, his popularity is hard to pin down.  It is a solid list of names, but it shouldn’t be titled “15 Unexpected and Original Names for Boys.”
  • Dancer names.  In French!  Well, you’ll recognize Isadora, Allegra, and Violette, but Loïe is new to me.
  • Coming to a television near you: Thatcher, Alaric, Duncan, Roscoe, Dash and lots more handsome names.
  • Boys named Dwight and Lenny, girls called Vogue and Eve Buttercup?  This list of birth announcements from Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda is fascinating!
  • I like Laura’s list of “Why Not?” names, but I think Winter has gone mainstream.  You’d still need to be pretty daring to consider Dodge, Thor, Halo, or Topaz.

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

P.S. The image above is a close-up of one of many Zoobles currently living in our house.  Though not the one named Maddie, no, Fluffy.

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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. I like the idea of a resurgence of Patrick, as long as it doesn’t mean people start calling their children Squidward 🙂

  2. When I was a kid I knew a family with daughters Harmony, Melody, and Charity (or was it Chastity? You get the picture!). . . . . and I think there was another girl too but I can’t remember for sure!