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Playing the name game

Updated: 9:56

This is the fun time of year when we start seeing the lists of the year's top baby names, which makes for an interesting sociological snapshot of a moment in history. According to babynames.com, here are this year's most-frequently seen baby names on their Web site. (Note: The Social Security administration has not compiled their 2009 list yet, but the 2008 list is a bit more traditional, especially for boys.)

Top Girls' Names 2009:
Amelia
Isabella
Ava
Sophia
Olivia
Madeline
Lily
Abigail
Chloe
Emma

Top Boys' Names 2009:
Aiden
Noah
Liam
Caden
Ethan
Jackson
Landon
Jacob
Caleb
Lucas


The baby-name experts note that we're still in the midst of a heavy "old-fashioned" name phase, which seems to have spanned most of the decade. And, as is usually the case, celebrity-influenced names tend to get a boost: the Pitt-Jolie's "Vivienne" made the top 100, and and "Twilight"-related names have broken into the top 100. Apparently, naming your child after a vampire or a werewolf is a hip thing to do.

When naming both of our children, we used the top-names list as a guide to what to avoid. As every child of the '70s named "Jennifer" knows, having the same name as three or four other kids in your class isn't much fun. I graduated from high school with a gaggle of guys named "Brian," and I even lived with another "Brian" my sophomore year in college. The novelty of "Brian and Brian" wore off quickly.

I'm not the only one who is now making sure that their child won't blend in, name-wise. Apparently, the most popular names aren't as popular as they used to be. One hundred years ago, about one in every 20 boys was named "John." Now, only about one in 100 kids gets the year's most popular name. Apparently, there is a consensus that unique is better.

Unique wasn't the only consideration for us. We wanted to play off of some family names, and we wanted the names to be straightforward, even if they weren't common (so Moon Unit was out, though Moxie was considered, briefly).

Naming is one of those intensely personal endeavors, so I'm curious: How did you go about it?

By Brian Reid |  December 18, 2009; 7:07 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
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Comments


DD: I'm not a girly-girl. So my basic criteria were (a) no names that can end in an "i" dotted by a heart, and (b) no names that would disqualify her for the Supreme Court. How we chose was I kept suggesting names to DH, who kept vetoing them, until I told him he couldn't keep veto them unless he came up with some other suggestions. He said he wasn't going to do that, so the last one I had suggested was the name. Good thing, to, as I was about 8 1/2 mos. pregnant by that time. :-)

DS: Much, much simpler. Basic criteria were (a) a "J" name like my dad's family; and (b) a name that wouldn't get him beat up on the playground. So, yeah, he has the same name as about every third boy in the Western hemisphere (we had no idea at the time). But we gave him a more unusual middle name, so he can switch over if it gets too annoying.

Posted by: laura33 | December 18, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Hey, don't knock Moxie!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 18, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

We had a really hard time naming girl #2. Finally, a few weeks before she was born I gave my husband a book of names and a notebook. He went through and wrote down all the names he liked. I did the same. Turns out there was only one name that was on both lists. Somehow girls 3-5 weren't so difficult...go figure.

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | December 18, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I can't tell you how tired I am of Aiden and Ethan, we know one family that has both. Luckily no one is following celebrities with names like "Apple" - I'd hate to see a Kindergarten class with a bunch of kids named after fruit.

We would have loved to have named my daughter the same family name as mine and used a different nick-name, but couldn't bring myself to do it. She got a very unique, old name though. Our son is named after his grandfather and is a II, he thinks it is very cool!

My daughter and at least 4 of her friends have the middle name Elizabeth but no one uses it as a first name anymore. We had lots of Beths growing up, I can think of 3 from elementary alone.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | December 18, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't till after #4 popped out that we came up with a name. Not that we had any conflict about it, we just hadn't done our homework. I let mommy and the kids decide this one. If I didn't like it, I could always call him whatever I wwant to, which I do anyway, no matter what the name is on his birth certificate. We usually call each other in the family by their nicknames anyway, mostly made up by daughter #1.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 18, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

We ended up using family names, but I also had criteria that you had to be able to distinguish the gender by the name. Son is after husband's middle name and my grandfather. Daughter is after middle names of both her grandmothers. Solid names, not weird, with some flexibility in them. And I love being able to honor people who are important to me.

Posted by: jljardon2 | December 18, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

FYI, Brian and cheekymonkey, a name could only be "unique" if no one else had it. Also, you can't have a "very unique" name. It either is or isn't.'

BTW, the Social Security Administration gives the actual numbers on baby names. You can see 2008 (2009 isn't finished yet, babynames.com): http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/. Obviously, the names are a bit different from babynames.com, and the popularity of names doesn't change that dramatically from year to year. So, it's pretty clear that babynames.com has come up with their numbers a little differently than by simply counting.

Posted by: rlalumiere | December 18, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I had an uncommon name growing up and thought it was great, ergo, both of my children have very uncommon names, with totally "normal" middle names in case they ever want to switch. My son's name is an old, ethnic family name and my daughter's name is just one that I have loved since I was young. As a woman, having a different first name makes it easier to change your name when you get married, people can still identify you, then again, that seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs, so I guess pick what you like.

I do think I will have to have a cocktail when we get a Supreme Court justice named Tevin or Kaetelyinn (crazy spellings abound) or Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backward). Oy, then I'll be certain that I'm old.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 18, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

People who come up with creative and silly ways to spell a relatively common name do their children no favors. For the rest of their lives, those children are going to have to spell their name EVERY TIME for EVERYONE.


laura33 wrote:
I'm not a girly-girl. So my basic criteria were (a) no names that can end in an "i" dotted by a heart, and (b) no names that would disqualify her for the Supreme Court.

Exactly. "Cathi" is cute when she's a kid, but she's probably not going to be taken as seriously in adult professional life as Catherine.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | December 18, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Dude, I don't think those are really the top names of the year. Social Security, which has an actual list of names, doesn't have 2009 up yet, but that list doesn't look anything like the 2008 list they do have up - and things don't change that much in one year: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/
(Speaking of the sociology of names, I've done some tinkering with those numbers over the last century, here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-n-cohen/on-naming-diversity-or-wh_b_201525.html

Cheers,
Philip
http://www.familyinequality.com

Posted by: cohenp1 | December 18, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I picked names that are easily pronounced in Spanish and English so that neither set of grandparents butcher the pronunciation. Most French names fit this criterion, so I looked there for inspiration and found nice, common French names that few people have in America.

Posted by: FashionistaMomDC | December 18, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Names are so subjective; I can see why other posters are choosing not to share their children's specific names. I think last year that a guest blogger wrote about changing her daughter's name to 'Summer', and she had to endure some really cruel comments.

For my children, I selected names that I liked but were not on the top 10 list. I'm also not a fan of gender neutral names for girls, or first names that are or were surnames (such as girls named Porter, Campbell)but hey, to each his own! Plenty of people do like these names. I also think I would avoid pop culture names like Miley, Britney, Tiger, Maximus, Che, etc... Most folks think about what a name would look like on a diploma or resume. No one wants to be written off based on their name. Studies have shown that having a name that is too ethnic can be a negative. Made-up or misspelled names can also be a burden to a kid, although Oprah hasn't suffered!

I'd be interested to know who usually gets the last word in naming the child. In my experience, it's always been the Mom. If any of you guys can share stories in which your choice prevailed, I'd like to hear them.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | December 18, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

huckleberry, my husband prevailed in the first name. our son's first name is thomas; a name i'm not particularily keen on but it was my father-in-law's name. i got to pick the middle name & the name i picked was one my husband wasn't keen on but it was a famiy name on my mother's side. my son's nickname is a shortened version of his middle name.
i don't know if that counts as my husband getting final say or not. son's name is a compromise.

Posted by: quark2 | December 18, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

My husband's family has had a naming convention for male children for several generations: The child gets the father's frist name as his middle name and gets a new first name. So our son got my grandfather's first name as his first name and my husbands first name as his middle name. My grandfather's name is very old-fashioned and uncommon and we love, love, love it. My husbands name is extremely common - so common, in fact, that both of his sisters married men with the same name...

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 18, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

DS got stuck with the family name - he's "ArmyBrat VI" but with a different nickname. The girls - DW and I negotiated on them (she mostly won:-). Mostly, just names I liked growing up.

Uniqueness of names - my "samples" tend to be roughly 10-year old girls who are registered in my softball program. So, 10 years ago, "Cameron" was big but everybody tried to spell it differently. So we have 3 "Kamryn," 4 "Camryn," 2 "Kaemrin," 2 "Kamron," and 3 actual "Cameron" in the league.

"Taylor" seems to be less popular now; a few years ago, 17 out of 140 girls in our 10-year-old league were named some variant of "Taylor." Not so much, now.

Want a less common name? Pick the old fashioned kind. Out of over 600 girls in our softball program last year, we had exactly one girl named "Mary." No girls named Sally, Janet, Ruth, or Lisa, at all.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

These should cover most of the responses:

The “intellectual”: we rifled through our old English lit texts (Ishmail)

The insecure: we agonized for months, something cute, but not too cute, professional but fun, so she’d fit in, but be really, super unique…(Eva)

The interesting: we named him after the cab driver who delivered him (Gorgon)

The spontaneous: he looked like a Gus (Gus)

The traditional: after five generations we had no choice (Gouveneur)

The traditional but insecure/practical: after five generations we had no choice, but we call him (Quint)

The vapid: We just loved Taylor Hicks on American Idol (Taylor)

All this is great fodder for judgmentalism (I can’t BELIEVE anyone would do that), even though as Brian acknowledged, it’s “intensely personal”.

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Naming is the only time the "please won't someone think of the children" defense is appropriate.

You may love the clever, unique name you have given your child. Your friends may think it's adorable. But your kid has to grow up with it, which means 12+ years in school with the meanest, cruelest type of people on earth- other children. The name you think is precious and hip will serve as nothing but fodder for bullies and jerks.

So please consider things other than your own vanity. The Aidan's and Caden's (wth?) of the world will learn to love you for it.

Posted by: bryc3 | December 18, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"So my basic criteria were (a) no names that can end in an "i" dotted by a heart, and (b) no names that would disqualify her for the Supreme Court."

I heart Laura.

(Ironically, I suspect that saying so will ruin her day based on the sentiment above.)

Family names. Gender-ambiguous was a bonus. The great thing about family names is that family members who share them are flattered and have an even stronger connection to the bearer of those shared names than they would otherwise.

Posted by: anonfornow | December 18, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

We looked through family trees and name books. It was easier for the first one, we were each close with our maternal grandfathers, and named him after them, fortunately the two names went well together and while I don't care as much for one name, it has a really cool nickname. With number 2 it was months of stressing and then reaching a consensus with a name from each side of the family. I didn't like the idea of naming one after family and the other not, so his name comes from the family trees too.

Posted by: library2 | December 18, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Another social effect of the odd, or oddly spelled, kid's name is that the kid's first interaction with unfamiliar adults, as toddlers, will be to go around correcting adults.

Ever been introduced to a child at the park, and said, "Hi Jessica," and have a three year old give you a withering stare and say with extreme annoyance, "It's Chessika!"

Yup, every adult on earth is stupid except your mommy.

Posted by: di89 | December 18, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

"ArmyBrat VI" is not correct form. There is only Jr., Sr., III, and IV -- IF four generations with the same name are living. If the numbers kept adding up, my granddad would have been an VIII ! It's fine to keep the name going, but adding numbers when previous generations have passed on is pretentious unless you're English royalty.

Posted by: red_hawk1968 | December 18, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey for all the “Won’t DQ for the Supreme Court” crowd, just a reminder that even a few years ago who would have guessed the President’s name would be Barack? I wanted a name that I thought fit with a baby, a child or a woman. I wanted a name that didn’t, in itself, place it’s holder in a specific time in history, in other words a name that was at a relatively similar level of popularity now, 20 years ago, 100 years ago. And, I wanted a name that my husband and I both liked. I’ll be brave and put it out there. The name is Sara (we went back and forth on which spelling and frankly, at the end of the day I don’t think it matters that much.) I’m sure some of you hate it, but no name will please everyone and when you know someone you judge on the person, not the name anyway. So there may be hope yet, Apple or Sunbeam or Kikidi may surprise us all one day by becoming Justice Kikidi!

Posted by: jmjs2009 | December 18, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Naming our daughter was easy: I had the name picked out since I was a teenager, and fortunately my taste wasn't terrible as a teenager--it's a traditional name and a family name, easy to spell and pronounce, not in the top 50 names but was slowly trending upwards when she was born.

My son was harder. I think boys' names are more overused, so finding something meeting the criteria of traditional but not common was difficult, and then finding something my husband agreed with was even harder. Looking at this list, I'm glad he nixed Liam and Ethan (both included on my short list).

Posted by: Sarahfran | December 18, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'll correct myself, Melville was American.

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Coming from a place where 10% of the girls in my high school were "Jennifer" and 8% "Amy" (being an Aimee myself), I swore I would not name my children popular names. There was even a girl from another school I competed against in track that had the exact same name. Weird.
DS#1 was easy - my husband came up with it when I was only a couple months along. Somewhere in the bottom 100s on the SSA website, although its getting more and more popular each year. Not a weird name, but just a solid, classic name that has never been overly popular. We struggled with DS#2. My husband went a little further out on names than I wanted (Tecumsah - big no) or little too redneck. We finally decided about month 6. Picked a name that has been in the top 10 for forever, but like the article said, the span of names is greater now. Solid, classic, not trendy. Today, the #1 name may only have a couple kids in the class named it. So he's the only child with his name that we know, and we have a lot of friends with little boys. Plus his middle name is solidly in the 300s, so no one will have his exact name.
I think babynames.com came up with their list based on what people said they named their kids this year. And it does vary year to year - some names will always be in the top 25, while other ones fade in and out. Look at Aidian, according to SSA:
2008 16
2007 27
2006 32
2005 50
2004 60
2003 73
2002 135
2001 217
2000 324
So it is conceivable that it moved to #1 this year.
And you can look at the biggest changes. Jacoby moved up 200 places - from #623 in 2007 to #423 in 2008. Even bigger was Khloe - 469 places - 196 in 2008, up from 665 in 2007. Other names fell out of favor - Aldo dropped 138 places and Angelique dropped 260 places.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

We had 2 surprise babies, so we had to come up with boy and girl names. The boy names were easy: one after my dad, one after his brother, called differently than the men they would be named after. We had to go through baby name books for girl names. Both times we did it on road trips. I'd go through the book and call out a name I liked. If he liked it, too, I'd write it down. We ended up with about 20, which we scaled back to about 5. Then we spent the next few months chewing on them. All kids get my wonderful maiden name as a middle name.

The first time around, we came down to 2 girl names. When she was born, I picked. I felt very strongly about it.

The second time around, we came down to 2 new girl names. When she was born, DH picked. He felt very strongly about it.

Neither is anywhere near the top 10, but neither is made up. We have a very Irish last name, and my maiden name is very English, so we went with English names.

Posted by: atb2 | December 18, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Fun topic! I obessed over my baby name book before I knew the gender and thought I could be having a girl. I knew my boy name before I was even pregnant-I want to name my baby's first name after my DH and the baby's middle name after my father.

When looking at girl's names I was trying to avoid the most popular lists but also didn't want a crazy name with a weird spelling. I just wanted a nice classic girl's name. But no need to worry about girl's names now unless the next kid is a girl...since I have always wanted a little girl I am starting to have a feeling that I will eventually end up with two boys...which would be ok too.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 18, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

My name is fairly common in the sense that it has been floating around place 50-70 over the last nine years.

Sadly, my Mom decided on a European variant spelling of my name. I have never, ever met someone in North America that has the same spelling. I have had to spell it to everyone my entire life. I will write an email and spell my name correctly in the signature and the return email will have my name incorrect in the salutation. It is very annoying. Don't torture your child with alternative spellings.

Some of my favourite child names are actually in the top ten. How disappointing. I have loved Joshua and Emma since I was a teenager The only name that I have thought about as a little girl's name that isn't in the top 10 (or even 1000) is Phaedra. I guess I am a traditionalist at heart.

Posted by: Billie_R | December 18, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Originally, I told my wife that I wanted to do a dinosaur theme with the naming of our kids, - Dina, Pterra, Tyronus...

OK, I admit that there was a strategy to it, - anything I could come up with besides something outrageous would be given consideration. It worked for our first 2. DW spent hours, days, going over lists and chatting with her friends, I just kept the name that I really wanted to name the baby a secret until a few weeks before she was born. DW was happy with the choice...

But one thing for sure, we weren't going to pass down any family names to our children. No way, we both saw the destructive favoritism that our fathers gave our brothers, and we vowed not to repeat the same mistake.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 18, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Our son's middle name is the same as my father's and grandfather's middle name, which was my great-grandmother's maiden name, unusual even then as an immigrant name. Lots of great history and assured to remain special. His first name was also a family name with hundreds of years in my husband's family. It is a well-recognized but uncommon name, and though it languished down in the 700s on the name ranking when we named him, he has never had to spell it for anyone. It always gets positive response when people first learn it, and it has since shot up several hundred places on the list. I fear it is headed for 'cool kid' status such that by the time he finishes elementary school, it'll be the hip 1st grader name. argh.

Posted by: topicaltimely | December 18, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

"My husband went a little further out on names than I wanted (Tecumsah - big no) or little too redneck." aimee

Aimee, it's difficult to surmise given the odd use of punctuation in the above, but the way I read that, it's either
a) unintentionally (?) racist ... Tecumseh being the famous Shawnee chief

or b) historically/culturally fabulously ignorant... "rednecks" being traditionally associated with the South, and "Tecumsah" being Sherman's middle name.

or c) totally innocent if the Tecumsah and "redneck" comments are indeed separate.

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Want a less common name? Pick the old fashioned kind. Out of over 600 girls in our softball program last year, we had exactly one girl named "Mary." No girls named Sally, Janet, Ruth, or Lisa, at all.


Posted by: ArmyBrat1

Couldn't agree more.

jmjs2009,

I think Sara is a great name.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 18, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

My father picked my name. I was named after my dad's favorite actress. Completely after the actress, first and last name (which obviously I already had, thus it would work). My mom picked my middle name.

It's been interesting because it's a generational thing; older people immediately go "oh, like the actress" and younger people for the most part have never heard of her. Other benefit- I was completely ungoogleable (the first hundred thousand hits are all the actress) unless you had a bunch of additional information about me and got lucky. It was a bit strange the day she died though and all the headlines read "'my name' died last night." Just kind of surreal.

I don't have kids yet, but I think my criteria would be:
1) no common names with weird spellings, that's just annoying
2) Nothing after seasons, or love child like things. Such as Rain. Or Summer. (though I knew a math major named Summer who was really nice and extremely smart.)
3) Nothing that sounds like a stripper name.
4) Not John or Jack. Every single male in my family is named John or Jack. And this includes in the same generation. Actually they are all technically named John, just some of them go by Jack. So in one generation we had John, Johnny and Jack. No, I'm not kidding.

Posted by: kallieh | December 18, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

My husband wanted to name our baby (we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl until birth) Thorr (yes, with 2 'r's). Umm...no. So he got to decide on the last name (since my name is hyphenated and we weren't sure what we planned to do for the baby). We gave "would-have-been Thorr" my husband's brother's name as a middle name. Thankfully both of us love the first name I chose (husband had veto power, but I got final say).

Now I am pregnant with number 2. We agree on a girl's name, but still working on a boy's name. Husband wants to name this one "Loki." Ummm..no. :)

Posted by: LadyCat1 | December 18, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Babynames.com gets a wide enough sample in their survey, which is why it's different than the actual results from the SSA.

Anyway, we named our son after our grandfathers (my wife and I each had a grandfather with the same name). We named our daughter after my wife's grandmother. It's a name I wasn't thrilled with, partially because it has male and female spellings and her grandmother had the male spelling. I told my wife I'd be okay with it if we used the female spelling, because I thought it would cause problems for our daughter having the male spelling, and my wife was fine with that.

Posted by: dennis5 | December 18, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm named after my dad's grandmothers - the first name is French and the middle Irish. I actually love my first name because it's extremely common as a middle name so everyone is familiar with it, but next to no one else has it as a first name (see if you can guess it from those clues).

Actually, my parents wish they had named me Michele after my uncle, but they always thought they'd have a boy to name Michael, but it just didn't work out.

My husband has an EXTREMELY common name. He wants to give our future kids unique names. Sky (as a boy's name!) has already been vetoed by me. I'm a family name person and between both or our families we have plenty of interesting things to choose from.

Posted by: em15 | December 18, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

TheRealTruth and TheRealTruth spouse had a very simplistic method of selecting names - names we liked, period. No set "rules" per se. No consideration given for family names, or veering away from the popular names.

While the preference would have been for names not too common, both names selected for DDs are on the top baby names lists (one is listed above), but TheRealTruth+spouse did go somewhat unique on middle names (gender neutral).

TheRealTruth concurs parents who give odd spellings of names do their children a disservice.

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 18, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

We wanted a girl's name to reflect at least two of our four heritages. We eventually settled on the Irish and Welsh strains, eliminating most of the Welsh ones as too old-fashioned and "G" ridden (e.g. Gladys, Gwendolyn, Glennis). The Irish side was easy - lots of names we liked and agreed on. The deciders: we liked the way "Seana" was spelled by a local actress as well as how it sounded (Shauna), recogniziing that she would occasionally have to correct a "Sea-Anna" attempt at pronunciation. We also liked Welsh "Bronwyn", the name of a national broadcasting icon, but steered away from it as a first name because of playground abuse potential (Brownie, Brownnose, Brownface, etc). A bonus - our Seana Bronwyn likes both her names and is thrilled with the explanation of their origin.

Posted by: TFMurphy | December 18, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I had the luxury of naming my wife's last two boys. My family has had historical namesakes for three generations prior, so I chose short, historically-based names that were meaningful and possibly good-humored to my father's memory. The short-lettered part was to give the child an easy spelling when learning to write.

To me, the most important things about such naming is that the namesake be already deceased or most unlikely to have a major negative event in their lifetime; and, to have a name spelled in a traditionally correct manner.

I abhor the cutesy or illiterate spellings of names, but like tattoos, I suppose this is a losing battle. More and more, one is obliged to ask the spelling of even the most common of names. Perhaps these spelling variations help with ID theft problems?


Posted by: Spectator | December 18, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Its also funny - girls names vary more than boys names. 42 different girl names in the top 5 over the last century. For boys, only 19 names rotated through the top 5 for the last century. Of the top 5 for the last century, for girls, 23 names made it in on the list less than 10 times. For boys, only 6 names were in the top 5 for the last century less than 10 times. One was a 90s fad - Tyler; 3 just made the top 5 over the last decade (Ethan, Daniel, Andrew - 2 of which have always been somewhat popular) and 2 were the ones going out of the top 5 at the beginning of the century (George, Joseph).

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

06902 - Tecumseh is seperate from redneck. I like the "history' of Tecumseh - being both a Native American hero and a famous civil war hero (although the part about burning the south I'm not a big fan of - too many civilian casualties). But as a name growing up? Nickname? Tec? Spelling it out every time you talk to someone? Explaining that your parents are not Native American but thought it was a cool name? Too many things to burden a kid with. He also liked Phoenix, as in the bird that rose from the ashes. I did not want a child named after a city (even though my DH tried to tell me it was after a mythical bird, but I thought most would hear it and associate it with Arizona) and I also did not want the name associated with a drug addict (River Phoenix). DH argued its his last name... still didn't win me over. Redneck being redneck - famous country singer names. We both like country music, but I didn't want DS to have a "country" name. Some names can go either way - like Joshua. Joshua Turner is a favorite country singer of ours, but there are plenty of Josh's from other walks of life. But there are other names that will always be associated with redneck backwoods country.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

LadyCat1 - I'm not trying to be snarky, but I'm curious - are you going to give the second baby the same surname as the first? I've seen a few families vary that, and I'm wondering if it's becoming more common.

(What I mean is - a friend, call him "Aiden Smith," married "Amelia Jones" and she kept her maiden name after marriage. Their son has the surname "Smith" and their daughter has the surname "Jones."

And I know of another family where every member has a different surnmane; e.g. the father is "Smith;" the mother is "Jones-Smith;" one daughter is "Jones" and the other daughter is "Williams" which was her maternal grandmother's maiden name.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

rlalumiere and cohenp1: Thanks for the comments. I clarified in the post that these names were from one top baby site, babynames.com. I linked to the 2008 SSA so everyone can see the "official" list.

Posted by: Nancy_Kerr | December 18, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"ArmyBrat VI" is not correct form. There is only Jr., Sr., III, and IV -- IF four generations with the same name are living. If the numbers kept adding up, my granddad would have been an VIII ! It's fine to keep the name going, but adding numbers when previous generations have passed on is pretentious unless you're English royalty.

Posted by: red_hawk1968 | December 18, 2009 9:10 AM"


Red_hawk, I completely get where you're coming from on this, but I do have one confusion about it. Legally, on his driver's license, SSN, mortgage papers, bank accounts, etc., my FIL is FirstName MiddleName Last Name Jr. My husband is same name with a III at the end (and yes, all three generations were alive when he was born). So, according to all legal designations, credit reports, folks they owe money to, etc., the two men are distinguishable.

So let's say my DH and I have a boy. We want to give him the family name. We have a Jr and a III according to all legal documents. So, would my son be, as Douglas Adams put it "FirstName MiddleName LastName the Nothingth"? No numerical designation? And if he has a son when my FIL is alive, that would give us two juniors, right? They can't all move up a number because of the legal name precedent if someone dies, right? How does the numbering protocol work?
I am actually being serious here; I don't know and don't really understand it since so much documentation is attached to names now.

Posted by: OrganicGal1 | December 18, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Whatever you name your kid, try not to give them one that can be shortened to a cruel nickname....Hard to do when other kids can twist any name into a cruel nickname. Elizabeth becomes Lizard, Jack becomes Jerk, Dusty becomes Dirtball....you know the drill.

Somebody wrote a book years ago called "What Not to Name the Baby" and pointed out names can describe the person. A Chuck is very different from a Charles; a Walt is very different from a Wally; a Danny is very different from a Daniel. Joan wears powder blue and pearls; Bordon sniffles. It's very funny but probably out of print now.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | December 18, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I has a set of twins work for me. Exact same name, except one was a "II" and one was a "Jr". Ok, weird, and very hard to deal with, especially since they were identical. One went by his initials and the other by his first name. Maybe the dad really wanted a junior or II, but with twins, didn't want to favor one over the other. Who knows. Just plain weird.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Our first son was named after a historical figure from a period my partner studied. It's particularly unusual in English, though used elsewhere, but has nickname possibilities that are quite common. We decided to use similar criteria for our arrival expected in early 2010, except that this time I started with nicknames I really liked and worked backwards.

For both, the middle names come from family members who passed away not too long ago, one from my family, one from my partner's. Both those names are fairly common, so they provide another mainstream choice.

So far, my 6-year-old really likes his name, so that gives me confidence in our naming for #2.

Posted by: mouse4 | December 18, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Whatever you name your kid, try not to give them one that can be shortened to a cruel nickname....Hard to do when other kids can twist any name into a cruel nickname. Elizabeth becomes Lizard, Jack becomes Jerk, Dusty becomes Dirtball....you know the drill.

Somebody wrote a book years ago called "What Not to Name the Baby" and pointed out names can describe the person. A Chuck is very different from a Charles; a Walt is very different from a Wally; a Danny is very different from a Daniel. Joan wears powder blue and pearls; Bordon sniffles. It's very funny but probably out of print now.

Posted by: Baltimore11

Problem with finding a name without a cruel nickname is that it's almost impossible. I looked up all kinds of names on babynames. com or whatever the site is called (i always just put in baby names in google to find it) and you can see what people with that name have reported and almost every single name i looked up had some nasty nickname. Some of course come to mind more easily than others but the point is you can't totally shelter your kid from bad nicknames.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 18, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't too hard - as a Star Wars fan I couldn't resist - his name is Luke, that way my husband can say "Luke I am your father"

Posted by: annwhite1 | December 18, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We had lists of names before each was born, then tossed the lists because DD didn't look like any name we chose. She got hers when DH said "I like ...". Then we worked on a middle name, settling on the state she was born in, it worked. DS was a name we'd come up with on a run long before he was even a consideration; I just could not bring myself to put his pregnancy nick name on the birth certificate, even though that was exactly what he looked like.
Both DS and DD get called by their nicknames far more often, but they're very possessive nicknames -- something only DH and I can use. Mom has her special names for them (after her grandparents, and I've always been sorry neither one looked like their Grandma name or I'd have used those).
But if you really want to know how we did it -- we "test drove" each name by seeing how it sounded when we yelled it.

Posted by: StrollerMomma | December 18, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"so common, in fact, that both of his sisters married men with the same name..."

Is Dr. Freud in the house? kidding.


jsm - love Sara - makes me think of shirley Temple in the Little Princess! solid name.

FYI, for every Barak Obama there are thousands of T'aQuaans or Elyzalynne's out there we are checkers at the 7-11. Don't think a weird name is a deal breaker, but I would expect that one might have to work a little harder to prove their credibility.

LadyCat - love your Scandinavian husband. Lars might be a little easier to carry off or maybe Nils or Anders if he's wedded to the heritage.

One name on my list that we didn't choose, but I still love is Charlotte - the perfect combo of uncommon but not unfamiliar!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 18, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Organic_gal - there's no hard and fast rule, but in theory on the death of the oldest of a line of same-named people, everybody should move up one. At least, so says Miss Manners (Judith Martin). "Senior" means the oldest living, "Junior" means the second oldest living, etc. When Aiden Smith, Sr. dies, then Aiden Smith, Jr. changes his name to Aiden Smith, Sr.; the former Aiden Smith, III becomes Aiden Smith, Jr. and so on. Then the next one born takes the next available number.

Few if any families actually do this (my family didn't) for the reasons you mentioned - suddenly changing the suffix appended to my name would most likely cause mass confusion for my creditors, doctors, etc. and it's just easier to keep the suffix assigned to me when I was born.

The reference:
Martin, Judith. (2005). Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. W. W. Norton. p. 55–6. Google preview retrieved 19 July 2009.

(why yes, it IS a Friday, and I AM stuck on yet another mind-numbing useless conference call. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"FYI, for every Barak Obama there are thousands of T'aQuaans or Elyzalynne's out there we are checkers at the 7-11. Don't think a weird name is a deal breaker, but I would expect that one might have to work a little harder to prove their credibility."

Wow, moxie...you're taking this to an interesting new place...

First, there are also thousands of Johns and Emilys out there who are "checkers at the 7-11".

Second, why would someone with a "weird" name need to prove their credibility? Is it because you/we/anyone associates weird names with minority/poor (both)? and there is some bias (conscious or not) against those associations?

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

We had no difficulty with a first name for our son, old testament, good nicknames, went well with our last name. Difficulty in chosing middle name, I wanted a name begining with the letter C. A friend visiting from London, off the top of his head, came up with the name. It is a common name in the UK. We loved it, my son, not so much, so he named his son after a reality show player, such is life.

Posted by: maryacarroll | December 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm Jewish, and the tradition is to name for dead relatives. Our family usually takes the first letter of the name, and comes up with the child's name. So I wanted to name for my grandmother, Yetta. How many pretty Y names are there? Not many. And the only 1 I really liked was Yael. Until I saw Ysabel. And I didn't make that up - it's been used in Hebrew and French. I loved the name, it has a few nickname possibilities for when she's older, and there are so many ways to spell Isabel anyway that having to spell her name wasn't that big a deal. Heck, I am often asked to spell Jessica, and I've never seen an alternative spelling on that one. Ultimately, I wanted to honor my grandmother, I wanted a name I liked, and I wanted her to have nick name options if possible. I did, sort of, wish the name wasn't so popular, but at the same time, it's a pretty name, so who cares.

Posted by: JHBVA | December 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"Second, why would someone with a "weird" name need to prove their credibility? Is it because you/we/anyone associates weird names with minority/poor (both)? and there is some bias (conscious or not) against those associations?"

06902 - research has long shown that those with short and common/familiar names have an advantage in elections, as do those who are taller or better looking. Why, I don't know; but as far back as 1976 there was research that showed "Jimmy" preferable to "Gerald" if everything else was equal. That advantage CAN be overcome - Barack did beat John, after all - but it's an advantage nonetheless.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"I'm named after my dad's grandmothers - the first name is French and the middle Irish. I actually love my first name because it's extremely common as a middle name so everyone is familiar with it, but next to no one else has it as a first name (see if you can guess it from those clues)."

I'm guessing "Marie"

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I, too, am Jewish, and have always been intrigued by how 'everyone else' comes up with names for their children. I always knew that if I had a daughter she would be named Emily after my grandmother - despite the fact that at the time (90s) it was an extremely popular girls' name. I briefly thought about spelling it Emilie (I am a francophile), but since I have a non-traditionally spelled name which I have to spell ALL THE TIME, I nixed it quickly.)

DS is named after both of DH's grandfathers - even though there are a total of six people with the same first name in my (mother's) family - four born in, two more married in.

Posted by: justme22 | December 18, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"Why, I don't know" AB

But the WHY is the most important / most interesting question...

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I love my name - it's a family name that was originally my paternal grandmother's maiden name, my father's middle name and was chosen as my first name. I have since passed it onto our daughter as her middle name. My middle name is my maternal grandmother's first name and we plan on choosing something from my mom's side as our #2's middle name.

We chose an irish name for our daughter that is typically used for a boy (but has both female and male rankings, and we have met girls with this name in the past) but we just love it.

Posted by: youngnovamama | December 18, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

In college the joke was if you didn't know/remember a guy's name, chances were it was David. Which reminds me of that great Dr. Seuss story, Too Many Daves.

Posted by: blahblah6b | December 18, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Winner, ArmyBrat1! I give you a virtual cookie.

Ann is kind of like Marie in that respect: there are lots of people with Ann as a middle name but not too many with it as a first name.

Of course my friend Ann is now called "Egg" or "Plant" after we all watched Arrested Development. Poor Egg, maybe someone will make her all sparkly for Easter.

Posted by: em15 | December 18, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

We use only saint's names, preferably close to the date of the child's birth, and eliminate names which will sound absurd when the child is 60. Somehow I can't imagine Tiffani will be pleased to be called that when she is in assisted living. Naming after a living relative can be dicey; I was named for my mother's sibling, "the crazy one." Oops.

Posted by: padre1957 | December 18, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The tradition in my husband's family is for every child to take on his father's entire last name, prefaced by a unique first name for the child. So if my husband's name is John Allen Smith Gold, then each baby's name will be (first name) John Allen Smith Gold. The names are long, but each middle name is a forefather's first name (stretching back as far as family history remembers. I like the tradition for boys, not so much for girls (they get daddy's names too).

My son has an unusual but easy to pronounce and spell first name. However, I think people worry too much about the spelling thing. I always have to spell my last name. It's not that big a deal, really. I think that names with meaning are so much better than names without any meaning at all, but that's just personal preference.

Posted by: raia | December 18, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Whoops, meant to say each child takes on his father's entire name, including first, middle and last.

Posted by: raia | December 18, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

My husband wants to name our kids, if we have 2 boys, Austin and Tyler. No, he's not kidding. I can't remember the girl's name he liked, but it was something stripper-y.

He really shouldn't be consulted in this decision at all, huh?

atb2: I really like the idea of using your maiden name as the kids' middle names!

Posted by: falltillfly | December 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

My sister used to work in Child Support/Social Services. You should hear some of the names she came across. More than a few Antwans, Peeairs, Tawandas, Dineeses and Britnees. Not to mention a LaTina or two. One was even named Bobra -- some idiot in Vital Records spelled "Barbara" wrong on the birth cert. so now she's Bobra for life.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | December 18, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"My sister used to work in Child Support/Social Services. You should hear some of the names she came across."

Hahahahaha...the poor / undereducated / disadvantaged are so unusual!!!

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"so common, in fact, that both of his sisters married men with the same name..."

Is Dr. Freud in the house? kidding.

Posted by: moxiemom1

No, really! Especially since the name is also their Father's middle name...
Ah, dysfunction, thy name is inlaws...

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 18, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I just want to note that all of these people have spelled Aiden wrong. The Gaelic spelling is with an "a": Aidan -- which is the correct way, which is the spelling we used.

Posted by: njacobs | December 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The number one rule IMHO is don't name your kid your-name-plus-junior, and then kill yourself. DH was a junior, but he dropped it after his father committed suicide (just around this time of year) when DH was seven.

My father picked all the first names and my mother picked the middle names for their kids. My sisters and I all have Dad's ex-girlfriends' first names, and saints for middle names. My brother's first name was after one of Dad's friends, and his middle name is the same as Dad's middle name.

DH and I followed a similar pattern, DH picking first names and me picking middle names.

Older son's first name is after one of DH's closest friends, and his middle name is the same as my father's, brother's, and DH's middle name. (Yes, what a coincidence that DH has the same middle name as my male relatives - and it isn't a common name at all.)

Younger son's first name is after a historical figure, and his middle name is my maternal grandfather's first name.

Posted by: SueMc | December 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Funny about misspellings and alternate spellings. I once worked with a woman whose name was spelled Yvonne but pronounced "Wy-own." The reason: Her mother had seen the name written, and liked it, but had never heard it pronounced.

The ideal name, I think, is easy to spell and pronounce, but relatively uncommon. (I like my first name for those reasons.) I never had kids, but I always wanted to name a daughter either Isabel (after my great-aunt, who was like a grandmother to me) or Helen (after a music teacher and family friend). I see that Isabella has hit the Top 10, but Helen seems to be off the radar.

Posted by: PLozar | December 18, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The Gaelic spelling is with an "a": Aidan -- which is the correct way, which is the spelling we used.

Posted by: njacobs | December 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Actually, no. Aidan is an English spelling. The Gaelic is Aedan or Aodhan. Not that it matters or that you should really care how/why anyone else chooses to name their own kids...

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, just read the different-last-names question. DH and I have different last names. Before the first kid was born we agreed that a girl would have my last name, but a boy would get DH's last name. No hyphens for us - the two names just don't work together at all.
(And we didn't find out first kid's gender before he was born, so it was a completely fair deal.)

Of course, when the 2nd one came along, DH wanted to change the deal. "It would be so much easier dealing with school and such if all the kids had the same last name [as mine]."

And the second was also a boy (that time we did find out the gender before the birth), so DH got to pass on his last name again anyway.

Now I'm the odd one in the family, and at school events / around the boys' friends / etc. I'm often addressed as Mrs. DH's-last-name. I've gotten used to it, and now I only correct them to my last name when I'm dealing with a photographer who's likely to be publishing his photos with names in the captions.

Posted by: SueMc | December 18, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

@06902: There's a differenc eof opinon on the spelling. But the spellings you cite are spellings that were used hundreds of years ago.

I am concerned with the way people spell it because I am sick and tired of people (including our doctor, school and othe rplaces) misspelling my son's name because of typical American ignorance and assumed supremacy.

Posted by: njacobs | December 18, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat1, 06902 - there have been studies that have shown names considered African American have a lower socio economic status, and tend not to move up the socio economic ladder when compared children born to the same socio economic status with more "normal" sounding names. Look for
"The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names." R.G. Fryer Jr., S.D. Levitt. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Aug. 2004.
Another editorial on names is:
"A Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names"
By J. MARION TIERNEY
Published: March 11, 2008 The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/science/11tier.html
I can't find a different article, which went over a study that found that people were distrustful of those with odd spelled names. This may change in 20 years when the adult world is more populated with "misspelled" names.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The irony in declaring "Aidan" the correct spelling because that's how it is in Gaelic is that Gaelic does not, in its original form, use the Latin alphabet. Modern Gaelics use a modified Latin alphabet. Not that translating from one language to another with the same letters leads to the same pronunciation.

We had a babysitter who had once tutored kids in a poor school district in the area and she came across a girl whose name was spelled "La-ah". The babysitter didn't know how to pronounce it and so asked the girl. The girl responded, with attitude, "La[dash]ah. The "dash" isn't silent."

Yes, that's right; it's pronounced as if it were spelled "Ladasha". Believe me, weird names will definitely put you at a disadvantage in life -- every study done on this has shown that.

Posted by: rlalumiere | December 18, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"But the spellings you cite are spellings that were used hundreds of years ago."

You mean, like, when people actually spoke Gaelic? Seriously, how anyone can accurately spell anything from that language is beyond me (or maybe beyond my typical American dominance/supremacy complex).

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I am concerned with the way people spell it because I am sick and tired of people (including our doctor, school and othe rplaces) misspelling my son's name because of typical American ignorance and assumed supremacy.

Posted by: njacobs | December 18, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

It has nothing to do with ignorance or assumed supremacy. If 99% of the people with named Aiden/Aidan spell it with an e and 1% spell it with an a, it doesn't matter which is the "correct" one, people will assume your child spells it with an e. They are just playing the percentages.

And it brings up the question that if 99% of the people use the "incorrect" spelling, doesn't that then become the "correct" spelling?

Posted by: dennis5 | December 18, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Armybrat1:

Our children will definitely have the same last name. They will both have my maiden name as a second middle name (DH decided to do this, which was fine with me since I didn't want to hyphenate like my name is--too bloody long!). While it would have been nice to have my maiden name as their last name (my brother died and he was the last with it), I understood DH's final feelings on it. He thought long and hard, and that was all I asked. Well, that and not naming our children Thorr and Loki (although my son's sign name is the one for thunder/Thorr *grin*...I couldn't resist that and now he has a funny story of how he came about it!).

Posted by: LadyCat1 | December 18, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

njacobs - get over it. Amy comes from "Aimee" - beloved in French (from the verb aimer, to love). But Amy has been the English and American spelling for years. I have to spell my name every time for people. It's not that big of a deal. Amy was top 5 for most of the 70s, when I was born, just like Aiden is today. Its quite nice to have the original spelling, but not have everyone have the original spelling. It's more unique than the usual spelling, but not weird. I've never taken having to spell my name to be because of "American arrogance and assumed supremacy". People, of all nationalities, go with the familiar. Amy and Aiden are the familiar spellings for the US, just like turkey and pumpkin pie are usually served at Christmas (but not always) in the US and in Europe its unlikely in most places to have turkey and pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner. It doesn't make one right and the other one wrong. It just is.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Jennifer...

The next old lady name!

Signed,
Jennifer (b. 1978)

Posted by: jlc1978 | December 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

My first name is Kathryn, and I've hated having to spell it for people for the last 40 years. I've also had to spell my maiden name and correct its pronunciation more times than I care to remember.

If I had a daughter, I once would have wanted to name her Katherine Paris, but now I'm afraid that people would think I named her after Paris Hilton.

As for the "T'aQuaans or Elyzalynnes" out there - in my line of work, I encounter truly bizarre names, a few of which are downright shameful. I wish I could reveal them here so you would know what I meant.

Posted by: theminx | December 18, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

No Jennifer, the Lindas, Deborahs and Susans are the next old ladies. Then its the Jennifers and Amys. Then it will be the Jessicas, Amandas, and Ashleys. lol
With boys the names don't change up every decade, so their isn't the "old man" names. Its just as likely for a Michael or John to be 80 or 20. The most change in boys names have been in the last decade. But Jennifers and Amys are in there 30s, going into early 40s. Lindas are in their 40s/50s. Jessicas are in their 20s. Or at least statistically speaking they are.
When my sister named her daughter Jennifer in 1984 I was like "Noooooooooooo, don't do it to her!!" But Jennifer was no longer popular by then. So she didn't have the problem that we did.

Posted by: aimeeconnelly | December 18, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What a difficult life you've lead, spelling your name for people. Oh, the burden! Oh the hardship!

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

My name is Corey. In my life, it has been spelt "Cory", "Kory", "Korey", "Corrie" (a usually female variant), or my favourite... "Khorrie". My mother picked it at random, despite being asked if she had been a fan of the Diahann (

Most times, when I have to correct people, I say "with an e". As a kid, I used to hate correcting people. As an adult, I assume they don't know either way and it's less a problem.

If I were to have children, I thought about names that would match my surname, but nothing that sounds cutesy (names beginning in "R" are out).

About being unique: aside from "The Coreys" (Haim, Feldman, and Hart), my name was unique enough that I can count only five other Coreys I knew personally to now.

Posted by: peabody | December 18, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Re: Aidan vs Aiden: FWIW, the SSA considers those to be two separate names. And according to http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/names2000s.html

"Aidan" with an "a" is the 55th most popular boys name from 2000-2008, with 70,516 registered. That's slightly more than "Aiden" with an "e", which is 59th most popular with 67,200 boys given that name during the same time period.

So, yeah, I'd ask you to spell the name to make sure I had it right.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The whole Aidan/Aiden thing is weird to me; one of my brothers is named "Aidan," and up until a few years ago, I had never heard of anyone else with that name. So the sudden appearance of "Aiden" everywhere has been like a weird typo. :-)

Forgot to mention that DD has my last name as her middle name -- after everything I went through, I wanted to be reflected somewhere there! DS's middle name is a shortened, first-name-appropriate version of my mom's unpronounceable/unspellable last name; since she's the last one with that name, I wanted to reflect that somehow (even if I didn't want to saddle the boy with the whole thing). Added bonus is that it's a little old-fashioned but sounds cool, and isn't popular.

DH also has some various family traditions, but those mostly came out in the Hebrew name. The big thing for both names was not to name a kid after a living relative; but since I wasn't in love with any of the names on his family's side, that wasn't hard. :-) At the same time, it was also a big deal to name after the dead relatives in some way. So basically, the English names carry on my family traditions, and the Hebrew names reflect his.

Of course, that became a whole negotiation, too. Rule No. 1 also meant that we couldn't pick the same Hebrew name that someone else had -- and once we picked one, that no one else could use it, either. So that turned into a whole series of discussions with sisters and cousins and all (if we spell it with an "a" instead of an "o," is it the same name? What if we just use his middle name and not the first and middle, would that be ok? etc.).

Posted by: laura33 | December 18, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and strangely enough, I was almost always the only "Laura" around growing up, with the exception of the occasional Lori. Now I work with a Laurie, a Lara, and a Lora. Go figure.

Posted by: laura33 | December 18, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Laura - re: the "no reuse of names in the family" - I've never understood that, but it's a big issue in DW's family. We had a daughter and gave her a name I really liked. Six months later, DW's brother and his wife had a daughter, and boy did we hear it because we had "stolen" their name! Seems that was the name that she - DW's brother's wife - had always wanted to give a daughter, and now they couldn't because we had already used it. Even though the girls had different last names and live on opposite coasts (they're in California). So once or twice a year we get "reminded" that their daughter has a second-choice name because we took it first. Sheesh!

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The names make for great fashion pieces. I have seen those names while shopping. I wonder if I have a piece with my name?

For example Amelia: http://www.shop.com/Tory+Burch+Amelia+Matte+Silk+Dress-258934114-p+.xhtml

Happy Holidays,

Kat
@katluvsshoes

Posted by: KatLuvsShoes | December 18, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

AB -- yeah, it was a weird one on me, too (given that a bunch of my family is from the south, where almost everyone is a "Jr."). It also seemed weird when applied to Hebrew names, many of which are adjectives -- for ex., we were allowed to use "Aryeh" ("lion") but not "Aryeh Baruch" ("blessed lion"); something about that being the Uncle's whole name, which meant that his kids couldn't have used either part of it to recognize their own dad, etc. I totally didn't follow it.

But, you know, I didn't really need to understand. The only thing that mattered to me was that getting it right really mattered to them. So I let them all figure out what our boundaries were, and then we went with that. (Of course, it helped that they raised their concerns at the time, rather than whine about our choice after the fact!)

Posted by: laura33 | December 18, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

We chose a first name that was a family name on both sides and that we both loved. My husband really wanted to use the middle name that is traditional on his side, and I knew it also meant a lot to him and his parents for our son to have his last name, so that's what we did. I love the name, I think it has a great ring to it.

It was funny though, my dad could never remember that I had not changed my last name when I got married. It wasn't until we named our son that it finally seemed to sink in that I still had my same last name. Then all of a sudden he wanted to know why we hadn't incorporated it into our son's name. It was such a sudden shift from not even knowing whether I kept my name to wanting me to pass it on! Oh well.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 18, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I grew up with a 9 letter Polish last name, so I guess I was pretty accustomed to spelling and pronouncing it. It was sensible to smile and just be a good sport about it. When I married, my husband had a 5 letter French surname, and it wasn't hard to make the switch and change my maiden name to my middle name. I'm proud of my heritage, but wouldn't want to burden my kids with my old surname. It probably would have been different if we were English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh.

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but the first name has to harmonize/agree with the last name. I have known a couple of folks who had rhyming names, and they had to be really good sports about it!

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | December 18, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the La-ah urban legend finally made it. Total fiction.
You'd think that with so many friends of friends hearing it, that someone would have seen an actual birth certificate or ID at some point.

Posted by: booksalways | December 18, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Please join TheRealTruth in congratulating di89 for winning the coveted Poster of the Day award. TheRealTruth concurs with the sentiments expressed and was very amused by the comment “Yup, every adult on earth is stupid except your mommy.”

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 18, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"I'm proud of my heritage, but wouldn't want to burden my kids with my old surname"

I think that's really sad, seeing your family name as a burden. I've never met a single person who could correctly pronounce my last name the first time... but a burden? Really? This is America for goodness sake. I can't pronounce/spell the last name of every other person I meet...

Posted by: 06902 | December 18, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

We chose names for our daughters based partly on family names and partly based on their meanings (according to our religious beliefs, the meaning of the name you choose can help set the tone for their lives and who they turn out to be).

Our first daughter was named after my paternal grandfather for her first name (he had a name that could be easily converted to a girl's name) and my husband's maternal grandmother for her middle name. We also lucked out and discovered that our last name is also a boy's first name, so we were able to put them all together and have her name's full meaning. Her name means "Brave and powerful maiden who is victor of the people."

For our second daughter, we reversed things slightly; my husband got to choose her first name and I chose her middle one. We couldn't agree on a family name for her first name, but my husband chose one from the baby book that we both liked. For her middle name, I chose one from the book that I've liked for years, and it turns out it's also a family name from several generations back (one of those happy coincidences that worked out great). Her full name means "One who is wise, brave, and powerful through knowledge gained by ancient wisdom."

We also withheld the formal declaration of their names until the first full moon or new moon after their births, at which time we had a formal naming ceremony for each one. We put their names on the birth certificates at the hospital, but we couldn't actually SAY their names until the naming ceremony when they could receive their names with the proper ceremony such an important gift deserves, and the hospital staff was really good about following our wishes.

On the subject of weird names or names with the potential to be made fun of, I do have one piece of advice for anybody who has the last name Hunt that I discovered when I worked security: do NOT name your son Mike! Put the two names together fast, and you'll see why I say that!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | December 19, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

USA: Land of Freedom!
From a June 22, 2007 Wall Street Journal article:

"France passed a law in the early 1800s that prohibited all names except those on a preapproved list; the last of these laws was repealed in 1993. In Germany, the government still bans invented names and names that don't clearly designate a child's sex. Sweden and Denmark forbid names that officials think might subject a child to ridicule. Swedish authorities have rejected such names as Veranda, Ikea and Metallica."

Posted by: KS100H | December 22, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"We had a babysitter who had once tutored kids in a poor school district in the area and she came across a girl whose name was spelled "La-ah"."


Suuuuuuuure you did... so did everyone.

Posted by: youngnovamama | December 23, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

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