Lin-spired Baby Names

February 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

(c) Kathy Kmonicek/AP – February 6, 2011: Taiwanese-American Jeremy Lin’s come-from-nowhere start with the Knicks has spawned endless wordplay.

Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks isn’t just a surprising, inspiring force on the basketball court – the man is a word nerd’s dream. His short and simple last name has spawned countless new catchphrases – from Linsanity to Linning toa YouTube spoof to the tune of Insane Clown Posse’s “Insane in the Membrane.” But could his new and immediate popularity, paired with the clever wordplay available from his surname, give rise to a new crop of baby Lindsays, Lindas, Kaitlins or Colins? Or will a less common crop of Lin names begin appearing on birth certificates from Taipei to Queens? Let’s discuss a few possibilities.

Which ones to do you like? Have any to add? Play along, the Linsanity hasn’t slowed down just yet! (Incidentally, Lin has just trademarked the phrase. Smart guy.)

Linnea – Let’s start with something a little bit fancy, which can be pronounced either Lin-AY-a or Lin-EE-a (I’m preferential to the former). Linnea, a Top 10 name for girls in Sweden, is of Scandinavian origin and means “lime or linden tree.” Girls in Sweden are named with the image of flowers in mind, as linneas are small pink mountain flowers first discovered by groundbreaking 18th Century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Jeremy Lin graduated from Harvard, and Carl Linnaeus was no slouch – he laid the foundations of binomial nomenclature, the system by which we scientifically classify plant or animal species, like homo sapien (human) or amaranthus retroflexus (tumbleweed).

Linnea lives outside the US Top 1000 and doesn’t rank in the Top 100 anywhere but Sweden, but the name may be due for a rise in popularity. Floral names like Lily, Violet and Daisy are seriously hot these days, and few parents have ever been averse to welcoming new, soft, beautiful flower names to their list of favourites.

Linden – Speaking of the linden tree, which is another name for a lime tree, the next name is directly inspired by nature. Though apparently typically feminine, I’ve seen it used far more often on boys. An English name, it’s also a common surname, and can be spelled a few different ways. Linden is most common, but Lindon, Lindyn (which makes me sad) or even Lindan or Linton (Paula Deen’s first grandchild, born in ’06, was named Jack Linton) are possibilities.

The name is popular in British Columbia thanks to another sports hero – longtime Vancouver Canucks captain and regional celeb Trevor Linden (who headed the NHLPA during the NHL lockout in 2004-05); Steve Darling, the host of our top-rated local morning show, named his son, born last year, Hunter Linden.

Carlin – A bit of a cheat. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of feminine names already in existence that can be -lin names, though they may be more commonly known as -lyn or -line names today. Roslyn, Jacqueline, Madeleine, to name just a few. If anything, Jeremy Lin could encourage some name nerds’ worst nightmare – the modern respelling of hundreds of classic, traditional name choices. But a name like Carlin is different. Long a name on the fringe, Carlin has always been Carlin.

Though it sounds like a modern version of Caroline, Carlin could easily fit on both boys or girls. And we can’t give Jeremy Lin full credit for that – the real inspiration behind this name specifically is the one and only George Carlin. The comedian taught the world the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television and brilliantly reworked the Ten Commandments in a way that secular individuals could finally understand them. He will forever be remembered for telling things exactly as they are, and making it hilarious. Former Full House star Jodie Sweetin named her second daughter, with DJ Marty Coyle, Beatrix Carlin. The middle name was to honour the stand-up comic, who died of heart failure in 2008.

I have a personal affection for this name – I fell in love with it, without knowing who George Carlin was, when I was 11 years old. At the time, I thought I had ‘invented’ it. Historically, Carlin is Gaelic and means “little champion,” which, if you really think about it, makes this name a little bit perfect as a name inspired by Jeremy Lin (he’s 6’3, which is on the short side for an NBA star).

Devlin – Another gender-bender, Devlin is Irish Gaelic for “fierce courage.” I love the meaning so much, it makes me overlook the fact you can spell Devil(n) with the letters. The name Devon already sways for both men and women, with neither side feeling their name is too suited to the opposite sex, and Devlin has the ability to pull off the same feat (like Rory or Owen, too).

An English rapper goes by the name Devlin (real name James Devlin), though you would have to ask Lou if he’s considered anything special over there.

Kalinda – Though technically pronounced ka-LEEN-da, the name sits right now in confusing territory. British actress Archie Panjabi currently portrays private investigator Kalinda (pronounced with a short i sound) Sharma on the hit CBS show The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies, and Panjabi won an Emmy for the role in 2010.

The name, which could be considered a fresh alternative to the likes of Melinda or Belinda in the realm of names connected to once Top 10 Linda, is of Hindu origin and means “the sun.” In Hindu mythology the name is a reference to nature, representing both the Kalinda mountains and the sacred Kalindi River.

Linley – The name Kinley, for girls, and all it’s variants (Kinslee and Kinleigh among them), is on the rise, and so are choices like Hadley. The name Tenley, too, is on the fringe – so why not Linley? A variant of Lynn, which is itself a variant of Flann – Irish Gaelic for “ruddy complexion,” Flann is also the root of popular Flynn.

Lin/Lina – Considering Lynn is already one of the most common names in the English-speaking world, especially as a middle name, why couldn’t Lin itself see a rise in popularity? Either as a variant spelling on a classic, a nickname as a first name for a name like Linnea or Linden, or as a tribute to the Chinese family name, Lin could have legs. So too could simple Lina, which is of Arabic and Latin origin, meaning “palm tree.”

I just can’t make myself go there, but what do you think about the off chance parents will get really into the craze, take some In- names, and welcome a baby Lindia or Lindio, or a Lingrid, Linga or Lingo?


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§ 3 Responses to Lin-spired Baby Names

  • Holy moly, I just did a post with Kalinda! I’m on some basketball trend without even knowing it.

    I like Linden, and like you, surprised to see it listed as a girl’s name, when every Linden I know is male. Is it like Shannon and Ashley, where all the adults are male, and all the children are female?

    I can never decide whether I really like Linnea or not … it sounds too much like “linear”, and lin-AY-er doesn’t sound quite right somehow.

    Another LIN name is Linton, like in “Wuthering Heights”. I saw one in a sibset recently and inwardly jumped around in delight.

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