My Favourite Names of 2011

December 22, 2011 § 5 Comments

Trends are always changing. Names you love might fall out of favour, you might have loved a name so long it’s actually lost it’s meaning – or the importance of that meaning has been overshadowed by something else. No matter what we’d like to think about our ability to name beyond trends, as our own lives change we, too, are changing. When I was younger I loved the name Jacob. I wasn’t sure why – I just saw the name everywhere, I liked how it sounded. But from affections like these grew my interest in names, and now Jacob just wouldn’t cut it. Why? It means nothing to me, and it’s been everywhere for a while.

We might also hear a name as we go through our lives that we’ve never heard before, for one reason or another, and we fall in love with it. Maybe it’s connected to something else we love, however fleeting, and we embrace it.

The trendy names this year that I was especially digging (and please don’t leave without sharing your own faves!):

Arlo. Easy. I’ve loved this name a while. It’s one of my names. This year, it entered into unisex territory as the son of Toni Collette, born in April, and daughter of Johnny Knoxville, born in October.

Willow. When Pink and Carey Hart named their daughter Willow Sage in June, this long-appreciated name stepped even further into the spotlight. I’ve always loved the nature qualities of this name, and have always been into names like River, but I’m only lately having a true appreciation of Willow. It’s such a pretty name. I may never use it, but I like it a lot!

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Technically Technologically Inspired

December 21, 2011 § 8 Comments

(c) Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Author Laura Wattenberg revealed the number one name of the year at Slate.com late last week, compiled from readers, commenters, and followers of her site, The Baby Name Wizard. Runners up to the name of the year were Pippa and Mark Zuckerberg (an Indianapolis bankruptcy attorney was booted from Facebook on suspicion of fraud because he shares his name with the site’s founder). But this year, Siri owned the day.

Siri is Apple‘s voice-recognition search-engine software, used by millions of iPhone users around the world. Tell it to call your wife, it calls your wife, ask it what the weather’s like in Miami, it finds you the forecast. A handy type-free search engine is definitely the wave of the future, and the name of the device caught on this year with parents and name nerds alike.

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About A Name: Jubilee

December 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Totally out there yet surprisingly wearable.

That’s all I can think about with this name. There was sad new out of Arkansas this week when the Duggars announced they’d miscarried their 20th child – a girl they named Jubilee Shalom, and celebrated with a memorial service attended by hundreds of people on Thursday. Jubilee was yet another J name for the family, the likes of which are varied in style and substance – which isn’t difficult when you get at least past the first ten kids.

It’s a fresh, joyful sounding mash-up of all sorts of names we know like Julie, Juliet or Jolie, even Ruby, Billie or Abigail. And it still comes off flowy and feminine.

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Tree Of Names: The Zappas

December 15, 2011 § 5 Comments

I had so much fun with my last Tree of Names post, that I really wanted to do another one. I had a post almost ready to go on those trendy Z Names, but Abby at Appellation Mountain posted her own first! And the Z trend continues. Singer Fantasia Barrino yesterday welcomed a son named Dallas Xavier in Charlotte, NC, but early reports she’d given birth mistakenly named her son as Dallas Zavier, which is a fantastic selection despite it never actually happening. Barrino already has a 10-year-old daughter named Zion.

In honour of the trendy Zs, this week’s Tree of Names will focus on the Zappas – in many circles at the very centre of weird and wacky celebrity baby names. Dweezil and Moon Unit are often cited among the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ celeb baby names, depending what the angle of the story is. And his children have welcomed some equally astonishingly named daughters, if all generally a lot more wearable – Mathilda Plum and Zola Frank among them. Still, only the boldest namers like to take on the Zappas for ambiguity.

“Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is the best.”
– Frank Zappa, Joe’s Garage (Act III), 1979

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About Two Names: Aiden & Sophia

December 10, 2011 § 6 Comments

Sophia Loren is popular inspiration behind 2011’s number one baby name for girls in the US.

Attention almost ALL journos who covered the Top Baby Names for 2011 in the US: Isabella might be helped by Twilight, but the name was popular long before the books/films series took over, and it’s popularity is more likely a byproduct of the large Hispanic population throughout the US, paired with people of all ethnicities who take to it’s femininity, than that dang book/movie series. Babies named simply Bella, fine, we can talk, but Isabella is NOT Stephenie Meyer’s doing. Jacob, too, was popular before the books. We can thank Twilight for names like Cullen, possibly Esme or Jasper, but not Isabella or Jacob.

Okay, rant done.

The number one names for 2011 in the US are not Isabella or Jacob, and the boys name isn’t Mason, though these are all far more discussed than the top two choices. That’s probably because both names – Aiden for boys, and Sophia for girls – made the top of the list last year. Yes, name trends take years, even decades to develop, and tastes won’t change overnight. Aiden is the most popular of a huge group of two syllable, ends in -n names for boys on this year’s list – Jackson, Mason, Jayden, Logan, Caden, Ryan, and Brayden are all in the Top 20.

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About A Name: Storm

December 2, 2011 § 8 Comments

Stormy weather.

Storm. It’s Old English for “tempest,” which pretty much means that today it means what it says, since no one calls a storm a tempest these days. A novelty choice in most of the world at best, with the more feminine Stormy (basically, it means “tempestuous”) not faring any better, Storm is surprisingly the 50th most popular boy’s name in Denmark, and is 98th in Norway. I’m used to seeing Nordic names like Jens, Hans, even Sterre and especially Magnus, but Storm is an English word, faring far better as a first name than it ever has in the English-speaking world.

And that’s probably because it’s a noun name, and it’s a noun that incites fear in some, sadness in others, or just plain discomfort. This same discomfort isn’t felt in Denmark or Norway because Storm doesn’t mean “storm.”

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