We spent the weekend in Ottawa. Given the subzero, record-setting, bone-chilling temperatures, this almost sounds like a joke. Except, honestly? We had a great time. My son played in an ice hockey tournament. (They lost, a lot. Canadian kids? They can skate.) But we ice skated outside, including on the world-famous Rideau Canal, we enjoyed figuring out how to walk from place to place inside, because those clever Canadians know how to plan for weather, and we just enjoyed the absolute gorgeousness of the frozen winter.
Another bonus? I realized that nothing – nothing – that our Maryland weather delivers for the rest of the winter season will ever feel like being outside at 10 PM after an Ottawa Senators game in -30 degrees weather.
And that makes me think: everything is relative.
Which brought my brain back to baby names: talking about popular names can be terribly confusing, especially for first-time parents.
Many parents I talk with struggle with this exact question: how common is too common? And how unusual can you go before a name is downright wacky?
I’ve written about it before, so here’s my best thinking on the question:
- In Defense of Emma and Ethan: Ten Good Reasons to Use a Common Name – because there are excellent reasons to use a name that everyone else loves, too.
- Nine Types of Unusual Baby Names – because sometimes “unusual” doesn’t mean “outside the Top 100.”
- Sweet Spot Girl Names – because plenty of choices are popular and familiar, but not overused. (I’m working on a boys’ list, too!)
- Classic Baby Names: Seven Reasons to Choose a Traditional Name – because sometimes the most common names are the ones that have stood the test of time, and why overlook Elizabeth or James just because they’re enduring favorites?
But I feel like there’s still a lot to say on this topic. In particular, it’s tough when you and your partner disagree on the how-popular question. I’m not sure I have a brilliant fix, but I’m curious to hear others’ ideas. How did you handle a disagreement about how common was too common?
- The always insightful Elea breaks down British baby naming trends.
- The Pop Culture Baby Name Game is back at Nancy’s Baby Names! She has a brilliant list of possible names boosted by movies, music, and more. Here’s my list of names I’m watching.
- Tell me: why isn’t Guinevere more popular?
- And more rare G names to consider.
- On the other hand, I agree – Pinchas is problematic. But what do we do about problematic family names? A tough question.
- Alaiya is everywhere, including in this recent celeb BA from rapper Fetty Wap and Alexis Skyy. But multiple spellings make it tough to realize just how popular that sound has become. (Unrelated: having a teenager means I know who Fetty Wap is. I think this is a new phase of life.)
- Which reminds me: Baby Name Wizard’s trend report highlights the continuing rise of liquid and raindrop names for girls. Expect to hear more of Eliana, Milena, Reyla, and so on – even though multiple spellings and many similar names will make it tough to see an individual name as wildly popular.
- Duana takes on the surname question. I agree with her conclusion: whatever you choose is fine. Lots to think about for anyone struggling with this decision.
- Twelfth Night Baby Names = more wearable options that you might guess. And how fascinating is Doutzen?
- This Swistle thread addresses names for babies who arrive after lots of wishing and waiting. Definitely worth a read.
That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!