Sunday Summary 9.18.22What’s the statute of limitations on pop culture references?

As my kids get older, I think about this All. The. Time.

Actors and movies and songs that immediately come to mind for me draw blank stares from my children.

Or at least they have to really search their memories for that one time they caught a snippet of the big Dirty Dancing finale.

And yet, some may balk at Felix because of the sitcom character from the 1970s hit television show The Odd Couple.

Here’s the reality of pop culture references:

  1. Entertainment is heavily splintered. Unless the character comes from a massive, culture-defining phenomenon, few will recognize the reference in the moment … and most will forget it before your kiddo reaches kindergarten. So, yes Khaleesi is still Game of Thrones, but Alaric is not Vampire Diaries.
  2. Except … what you like, your friends might like. So if you’re huge Wheel of Time fans, and so are lots of your friends, well … they might know that Perrin is borrowed from the series (and books), even if no one else does.
  3. And, of course, a reboot is always possible. So many concepts, including The Odd Couple, are forever being rebooted. Songs are covered and sampled. (For The Odd Couple, it happened most recently in 2015.) Two things: first, see #1. Second, recognize that many a reboot fails to make the pop culture impact of the original.
  4. Overall, pop culture moves at a rapid clip. Maybe this wasn’t true in the 1980s or 1990s, when television series still ran for half-a-dozen seasons and a small number of movies and radio stations captured our attention. But today? Associations fade fast. Each of these names was a central character in a 2017 blockbuster: Spencer, Lucy, Richie, Hector. Can you name them? No. There’s a good chance no one will make the connection, either. Songs, I think, linger a little longer … but again, the more recent the song, the more competition means “Emiliana” or “Angelica” – both songs from 2022 – would still be well under the radar.

I think parents instinctively know this, and so our tendency to borrow names from the most recent series we’ve been binging or songs we’re streaming feels completely acceptable.

But it does bear repeating. Because it’s so easy to find The One name you both agree on … only for a Google search to have you wondering if you really can use it.

Most of the time, happily, the answer is yes!


There’s a Minna Wren in this British Baby Names birth announcements round-up. I think it’s sweet, slightly unexpected, and very wearable. The boys’ names are delight, too – Ned, Hugo, and Felix!

Y’know how I often say “no one owns a name,” right? This story is the exception that proves the rule. If it would be incredibly hurtful to a close family member to use the name, then … yeah, it’s off limits. (In brief, this mama-to-be wants to use the same name that her brother-in-law chose for the daughter he lost three years ago. I’m honestly hoping the whole post is fiction, because really … how could you even consider such a thing?)

We say “don’t name your kid that, because he’ll be teased.” But it’s not the name. It’s the bullying. This mom gets it exactly right. (More on that here, including a point that takes us back up to the whole statute of limitations discussion.)

Are you the fancy name kid or the boring name kid? On TikTok, @erica_mallett suggests that every family has one kid whose name feels like it was thought of in “three seconds” and another kid “where they got really creative and treated it like an art project.” This feels weirdly true for me …

Nancy has the top names in Ecuador, and the list reminds me We think of Liam as an Irish name. And it is! But it’s also wildly popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including Ecuador, where it’s the top name for boys. It’s also big in Argentina, Chile, and Spain. It’s climbing on BabyCenter’s Spanish-language site, too, rising to #3 in 2021, behind the most obviously Spanish Mateo and Santiago.

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

Girl Names 9.18.22 Boy Names 9.18.22

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 think that the statute of limitations is longer the more the name resembles the pop culture Thing, along with how iconic the name is.

    I suspect you don’t know the character Edward Elric, so I feel like you might go “I understand your concern, but who’s going to recognize that? But it’s a very distinct name for the people who do know the series he’s from! And if you’re thinking of naming your kid Edwin Elric, or Edward Alric? I would say pass, because similarities like that feel less like separate, unrelated names, and more like people who name their pets a pun. Chairman Meow and Napoleon Poniparte give the same vibe.

  2. Re: the statute of limitations. I am an older mom born in the 70s and named my son a family name John Tripp3r. (it’s not Tripper but an obscure family name that’s very similar). He goes exclusively by Tripp3r. I really wanted to reverse it and he would have been Tripper John but it was way too close to Trapper John, MD. And the show had been off the air for over 25 years! But I think nobody younger would have every connected his name like that. Even if I’d been 5-10 years younger it probably would have been just fine.

  3. Know what you say more often than nobody owns a name? “Relations with my loved ones are more important to me than names I love.” For the likes of us that is really saying something!

  4. What’s way worse is the BIL’s girlfriend passed away in an accident during her pregnancy hence also losing the baby… I was super mad a few days when reading this post on Reddit