About A Name: Camden – the ‘It’ name in America?

September 23, 2012 § 6 Comments

(c) Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com; Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com via UsMagazine.com: Is Camden America’s hottest new baby name?

Just as his ex-wife, Jessica Simpson, chose a trendy new baby name for her daughter, Maxwell, born in May, singer and TV presenter Nick Lachey has gone the trendy, of-the-moment route for his new son, if nothing else affirming that super-hot Camden is probably here to stay, at least for a while.

Just over a month after reality TV star Kristin Cavallari welcomed Camden Jack with her fiance, Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, on August 8th, Lachey welcomed Camden John with model and TV presenter Vanessa Minnillo on September 12th. The birth caused Cavallari to tweet, “Apparently Camden is a popular name! I obviously love the name and I’m glad other people do too.”

Camden is a phonetic alternative to Cameron with a common nickname (Cam), but to others, it’s recent popularity is more easily lumped into the Caden, Aiden, Jayden, and other -den names trend than as a cousin to a still common selection. Camden is likely a Scottish Gaelic or Old English name of uncertain origin – it could mean “winding valley” or “enclosed valley.”

But it’s use of Camden as a place name and subsequent surname (meaning “from the valleys”) that gives most people in the English-speaking world their free association to the name. In the UK, Camden Town is a fairly bohemian neighbourhood in London, well-known for it’s public markets – but it doesn’t translate to naming inspiration overseas. It was named for the 1st Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt, who started the development of the borough in the early part of the 19th Century.

In the US, Camden Yards is home to the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball. Former Major League baseball pro Scott Proctor and his wife Carrie named their first son Camden after Camden Yards in 2004 (they had son Cooper, named for Cooperstown, NY, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, two years later). And there are always those inspired by the city in New Jersey of the same name (though, as Nameberry points out, the name is more attractive that it’s namesake – poor Jersey!)

It’s found some generally accepted use for girls, as well – no surprise, really, considering the unisex nature of Cameron. But it remains predominantly male for the time being.

Camden entered the US Top 1000 in 1990, right around the time that Cameron hit the Top 100 for boys (it hasn’t looked back since), and Camden has been steadily climbing the ranks as well, with it’s longest strides through the ’90s. Now, Camden sits inside the US Top 200, and with two celebrity baby endorsements in the last few months, it seems only more likely to climb higher.

The name seems most popular in America, with other English speaking countries receptive but still using Cameron on a regular basis – it’s Top 100 in Australia, Canada, and England, and Top 10 in Scotland – where it represents the surname of one of the oldest clans of the highland country. Indeed, British media is somewhat ironic in their coverage of Camden as America’s new “It” baby name.

But harking back to the idea that Camden’s recent strength is also due to the popularity of names like Aiden, Jayden, Brendan… (the list goes on), and it’s really not surprising to see it find the spotlight. It bridges the gap between common and unique. It sounds like you’ve heard it a million times, even though it’s different (for now).

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§ 6 Responses to About A Name: Camden – the ‘It’ name in America?

  • I can see Camden doing well in the US since sound-alike Cameron has become a “unisex name” (read: too feminine for a boy).

    I like it; I think it’s better than both Cameron and Caden, and it seems upmarket to me.

    I have tried to promote this name on my blog, but despite Camden being a a nice area in Sydney with many historic ties, I haven’t seen any in birth notices.

    • I agree, Camden has a classy ring to it, for sure.

      I don’t know any Camden’s personally, but I have a feeling we’ll start using it more here. The sports reference has really helped prop it up in North America, and the US especially.

  • nameplayground says:

    Camden is handsome for sure, it will be interesting to see how it goes in the charts in the future.

  • I guess Camden is one of those names most people like the idea of, but for some reason few actually go ahead and use him.

  • M says:

    Camden won’t catch on everywhere in America- the city of Camden, NJ (near Philadelphia) is best known for its political corruption, poverty, and astronomical crime rates. It’s consistently listed among the most violent and dangerous cities in America. So Camden as a name may catch on on the West Coast, but I don’t think it’ll be too popular anywhere near New Jersey.

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