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Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

Baby names: Michaels, Amys give way to Aidens, Emmas

January 1, 2007

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What's going to happen to Michael?

Will he go the way of Jennifer and Amy, fading out of the spotlight, or will he learn a lesson from Matthew, who avoids the headlines but always turns in a solid, consistent performance?

Either way, Michael is at a turning point: After more than three decades as the top name for boys, Michael is not on BabyCenter.com's top 10 list of most popular names. It slipped to No. 12 on the 2005 list and has stayed there.

Most people who track trends know that children are pretty good arbiters of what's hot, what's not and what's next. It turns out this all starts on the day they're born, as the names they are given often fit into larger social and cultural trends.

When the colonists arrived on U.S. shores, they purposely spurned classic English names in favor of biblical ones. In the 19th century, literature served as a source of inspiration - hence the popularity of Ida, a princess in a Tennyson poem. And beginning in the 20th century, people have named their children after movie stars and TV characters.

So, what's up with Michael, which reigned supreme as a boy's name for 50 years?

Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of the BabyCenter Web site, says too much publicity about how popular the name was led some parents to avoid it. "What's happening is that boys' names are loosening up, getting more creative, and I only expect to see more of that," she said.

Michael is still second on the Social Security Administration's 2005 name list, the most recent one available. The Social Security list registers first names that appear on birth certificates. Many children, though, actually are called nicknames or their middle names.

Murray thinks her list of a database of 374,522 names accurately reflects cultural trends because it ranks names by sound, not spelling, so all the Kaitlyns and Catelyns are counted together. Together, the 45 spellings of Mackenzie made it the 27th most popular name, while the Social Security list ranks the most common spelling of Mackenzie as No. 50.

Also, Murray says, the government's 2006 list won't be out for several months, and parents have become so concerned with not naming their children with a popular name, they want to know what to avoid.

"People are looking for something unique. They don't want a name on the top 10 list, so they dig down," Murray explained.

Still, today's top names - Aiden for boys and Emma for girls - aren't as overwhelmingly popular as the top names from a generation ago, when it seemed everyone had multiple Michaels and Jennifers or Jessicas in their class.

"Somebody has to be No. 1, even if there are fewer of them. We're choosing from a much broader range of names than we used to," Murray said. "There's a lot of volatility of the list. ... There's a lot of movement in the top 10 from year to year and even more in the top 100."

A hot new entry is Nevaeh - heaven spelled backward - which came from nowhere to surge ahead to No. 89, says Murray. That fits in with an overall increase in spiritual, though not necessarily biblical, names. There are more babies named Blessing, Eden and Zen than you'd think.

Addison, a girl's name, is one of the quickest rising stars, jumping 57 spots to No. 26. It's worth noting there is an Addison on one of TV's biggest hits, "Grey's Anatomy."

And, Brayden, just a slight tweak on Aiden, is a boy's name that is increasingly popular (No. 15) but hasn't yet peaked. More than 40 percent of boys' names on the BabyCenter list end in either an "an" or "en" sound.

"Aiden - it's a surprise to me, too, that it's No. 1, but there was a character on 'Sex and the City,' and he was the best boyfriend Carrie ever had. I think that might have something to with it," Murray said.

The celebrity factor

New parents don't like to admit it, but chances are their name choices were influenced by pop culture or the media, according to Lesley Bolton, author of "The Complete Book of Baby Names" (SourceBooks).

Both Murray and Bolton cite Reese Witherspoon as an example. There aren't a lot of little Reeses running around, but the name Ava wasn't even on BabyCenter's top 100 list when the daughter of Witherspoon and estranged husband Ryan Phillipe was born in 1999. In 2006, though, it was No. 3.

Bolton also points to the re-emergence of Emma as a popular name after Jennifer Aniston's character gave birth to one on "Friends."

But even celebrities can go too far. It's unlikely Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter Apple will spark a boom in fruit monikers.

Other influences

Names in the news are another factor, Bolton notes. "Katrina - it's what's on our mind right now, and all names have an association. We won't see a lot of Katrinas over the next few years, but it will be considered cool and retro decades from now."

Using names to honor relatives is a time-honored tradition, and Bolton expects this to be a strong trend in 2007, especially names of grandparents and great-grandparents. "They're names that have stood the test of time, everyone knows them and can spell them, but they've been off the bench for so long that there is a little bit of individuality," she said. In 2006, for example, Abigail was No. 9.

With names skipping a generation or two, it's more than likely that today's kids will romanticize Jennifer and Linda, former No. 1 names that their parents (many of whom are Jennifers and Lindas) are consciously avoiding, added BabyCenter's Murray.

Women also seem to be moving away from hyphenating their names when they get married, leading some to use their maiden names as first names for their children, she added. That might explain some of the Logans and Ryans.

History lessons

Naming patterns also follow long-term trends, according to J. David Hacker, a history professor at New York's Binghamton University, who has studied U.S. first names from the Colonial era through 1920.

"There was a revolution in naming patterns in the Colonial period, especially in Puritan New England, which very consciously turned to the Bible as a source of forenames," he said.

In 17th- and early 18th-century America, 90 percent of first names were biblical, versus 50 percent in England during the same period, where names linked to royalty were more popular.

After the Revolutionary War, though, the U.S. naming pool was largely secularized. Working from census records, which use the names people are known by, not their formal names, Hacker found that in 1780, two-thirds of U.S. male names came from the Bible, while that number dropped to under 20 percent in 1920.

Girls' names vary more widely across generations, though Mary had a lock on the top spot in the early years the way Michael did more recently. Hacker thinks "that in the 18th and 19th centuries, male names were taken more seriously, while girls' names were driven more by fashion."

Among immigrants in the early 20th century, some purposely looked for classic American names for their children, while others who tried to hold on to their heritage, Hacker said.

Among today's parents, BabyCenter's Murray noted that there is a theory - advanced in the book "Freakonomics" - that some try to choose names that sound successful "as a way to give their children a step up in life."

Whatever factors influence name choices, a BabyCenter survey last year of parents found that most, 82 percent, like their own name.

"In the end, it becomes a part of you," said Murray, adding: "Sure, the Apples go through a stage where they want to be part of a group, but then they usually decide they can't imagine themselves as anything else."

The many ways to spell 'MacKenzie'

One of the hottest trends in baby names is to tweak, ever so slightly, a classic to create a familiar name with a touch of uniqueness.

According to the 2006 list of top names on BabyCenter.com, which uses a database of 374,522, names, there were 45 ways to spell Mackenzie as a girl's name. All those Mackenzies combined made it the 27th most popular name.

"People really work the spelling angle," said BabyCenter.com editor-in-chief Linda Murray. "But don't complain if someone else spells or pronounces it wrong."

The variations of Mackenzie:

Mackenzie

Mckenzie

Mackenzi

Mackenzee

Mackinzie

Mackensie

Mackenize

Mackinzy

Mackinsey

Mackenzy

Mackenzey

Machenzie

Mackynzi

Mackinze

Mackenziee

Mackanzie

Macinzee

Machkenzie

Macenzie

Mckinzie

Mckenzee

Mckenzi

Mckynzie

Mckinzee

Mckenzye

Mckenzy

Mckenzey

Mckenze

Mckenize

Makenzie

Makenzi

Makenzy

Makensie

Makynzie

Makynze

Makenize

Makynzye

Makynzi

Makinzy

Makinzie

Makinzi

Makenzee

Makinze

Makinsy

Mykenzie

Comments

Aileen Dingus 7 years, 3 months ago

Tychoman- glad you liked it. Here's another one of my faves:

Q: May I suggest: Calaya Tanith Calaya Branwen Calaya Delphine Calaya Faerin Calaya Gwendolen Calaya Maeve Calaya Magdalen Calaya Mairead Calaya Niamh Calaya Nimue Calaya Roisin (ro-SHEEN) Calaya Siobhan (sha-VON) Calaya Talwen Fainne Maeve Fainne Roisin Fainne Tanith

A: No. No, you bloody well may not suggest them. Please leave us alone and resume reading "The Annotated Legends of the Runes of the Mystical Arthurian Knighthood of the Sacred Circle of the Shield of the Spell-Casting Princess Faeries of the Grail of Blackwynne Castle. Book II."

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gconfo 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Dambudzo 7 years, 3 months ago

In school, I had to fight like hell.

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bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

because there is safety in anonymity.

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Bobbi Reid 7 years, 3 months ago

And it's the children that have to grow up with all the teasing due to the stupid names you give them. It's also the children's right to hate you because of it for their entire lives.

Look forward to getting put in an old folks home

I don't think that my kids will ever hate their names or me for naming them. I however cannot stand mine, and did receive a lot of teasing because of it.. My first name is Bobbi, and no it is not short for anything.. Oh and too the people who said no about juniors, if my hubby and I ever have a boy, he will be a junior, and I would hope that he is proud of his name, and where it came from.

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Tychoman 7 years, 3 months ago

That Bad Baby Names Website was hilarious.

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Mike Blur 7 years, 3 months ago

"Tomas" is the Mexican/Spanish equivalent of "Thomas" - just like Esteban (Stephen) or Miguel (Michael).

"Jose" is currently the Number One baby name in the state of Texas.

I'm amused by the goofballs here that discuss their own name without revealing it. If it's so unique and wonderful, why not share it with the rest of us??!!

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bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

my parents gave me a first name among the most common for former presidents. . the last name they endowed me with is habitually misspelled, in about four different ways, though it is pronounced as it is spelled. so, am glad for the common first name. my middle name I share with an invisible rabit. [hint, movie ref]


lynnd, besides the names of presidents or movie stars: Zane; armstrong; or the simple Gary? few years ago, it seemed Zack or zach (short form) was a popular boy's name. hope these suggestions help. I have always liked Samuel.

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bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

also no mention of: William/bill; James/Jimmy; John; Harry; or Franklin. no sane parent would name their parent after LBJ.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 3 months ago

class:

I got that "Junior" tag as well.

NEVER do that to a kid!

Thanks.

Marion.

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classclown 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't believe in junior either. The boy is going to grow up and be his own man. He deserves his own name.

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lynnd 7 years, 3 months ago

thanks all. So far the only suggestion of mine that she's looked mildly interested in is "Garrett." not my first choice, but it's okay.

Pity the poor woman who named her daughter Arian. She should have done a little more research on that one.

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classclown 7 years, 3 months ago

"I think parents should name their kids whatever they please, after all it is our right as a parent to come up with a name that we like,..."

====================================

And it's the children that have to grow up with all the teasing due to the stupid names you give them. It's also the children's right to hate you because of it for their entire lives.

Look forward to getting put in an old folks home.

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Bobbi Reid 7 years, 3 months ago

One of my girls has a unique name, Raeanna, and the other is very common.. Madison.. I think parents should name their kids whatever they please, after all it is our right as a parent to come up with a name that we like, and that suits are children..

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budwhysir 7 years, 3 months ago

I share my name with no one. It is mine I have had it for many years and I dont think I will trade it in. In years past, I have looked into other names but this year, I am comfortable in my name and wish to keep it.

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Kristen Murphy 7 years, 3 months ago

My son's name is Caeden. According to Babycenter.com, there is 32 ways to spell his name. I would rather him have a somewhat different name. I'll admit it will be spelled wrong, but I knew that when I picked that spelling.

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Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm...I wonder why George and Dick aren't in the top ten.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 3 months ago

My first and middle names are unusual, as is my nickname. But my names are also family names. Unless someone sees my name spelled out, it is mispronounced, but I am used to it, and it isn't a big deal. (My name is spelled exactly as it sounds). I am glad I have an unusual name. I picked names for my kids that I liked and were slightly old fashioned. However, they have also been popular. My oldest child's name, however, is a little unique. And I am proud of it as is she.

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pagan_idolator 7 years, 3 months ago

My grandson is also named Evan and I just love the name. I, too, despise the stupid spellings of some names. I think its better to stand out for your personality rather than having a cutesy or off the wall name.

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offtotheright 7 years, 3 months ago

Chesney? I'll bet she gets the nickname Chestnut pretty quickly!

Try looking at some of the names in Wyandotte County. Those giving birth do not know how to spell, and thus the names get all effed up.

'Tomas'...'Stevn'...'Nikalus'...the list goes on and on.

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KansasKel 7 years, 3 months ago

My oldest son is named Evan. It's a good, solid, strong boy name that is never mis-pronounced! I've never regretted naming him that.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, a lady on a message board I visited named her daughter a name (can't remember exactly how she spelled it, but it was pronounced "Arian" ...as in, Arian Nation....but she didn't REALIZE that until after the poor child had already been named and then people started questioning her why on earth she named her that. I know she spelled it with an "E" on the front. I have always wondered if she ended up deciding to change it, or call the child by her middle name. I sure hope so.

I named one of my daughters Chesney Rose. She gets a lot of compliments on her name.

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areyoukidding 7 years, 3 months ago

martez? are you serious? i gave my son a unique name, so that he will not be one of the four brians i had in my class, but it is spelt as it is pronounced. no surprises. i work at a physicians office and see many babies with outrageous names and parents who get very upset because they gave their children stupid names that nobody can pronounce.

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Aileen Dingus 7 years, 3 months ago

a snippet from that website:

Q: "My son is named Mason and I don't see what is wrong with that. I have been suffering with my husband saying if this baby is a girl he'll name her America. I have tried to change his mind thousands of times, but he is stubborn. It's not that I'm not patriotic, I'm just thinking ahead to her school days. I don't want my child to have to endure being called "Miss America" or any other corny attempts at humor."

A: "Damn it, woman! If you don't name your baby America, the terrorists win! Every patriot must go out and name their baby America!

Miss America my a**. It's the Coming to America jokes I'd fear. "

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 3 months ago

Lynnd:

"Bill or George Or Anything But "Sue"!"

Thanks.

Marion.

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Aileen Dingus 7 years, 3 months ago

Lynnd- beg your sister to give the child a normal name with a normal spelling and a normal pronunciation. He'll thank her for it. I was given a "normal" name with an unusual spelling, coupled with a pronunciation (Eye-leen) that doesn't match the spelling. Wretched times, trying to explain to people what my dang name is.

For a laugh (lots of laughs) give this website a look: http://www.notwithoutmyhandbag.com/babynames/index.html

p>(notwithoutmyhandbag.com, then click on baby names)
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sublime 7 years, 3 months ago

Posted by lynnd (anonymous) on January 1, 2007 at 10:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

any great ideas for a good, solid, boy's name out there? my sister's due Jan 12 and is having a terrible time figuring out a name! nothing that's super-popular, too common, too goofy or wierd, something that is appropriate for both a child and as an adult....it sure is hard naming kids these days.

Martez,Bruce,Steve,Eddie,David,there are just a few.I don't know if that fits your agenda or not,but there you go.

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sublime 7 years, 3 months ago

Posted by lynnd (anonymous) on January 1, 2007 at 10:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

any great ideas for a good, solid, boy's name out there? my sister's due Jan 12 and is having a terrible time figuring out a name! nothing that's super-popular, too common, too goofy or wierd, something that is appropriate for both a child and as an adult....it sure is hard naming kids these days.

Martez,Bruce,Steve,Eddie,David,there are just a few.I don't know if that fits your agenda or not,but there you go.

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lynnd 7 years, 3 months ago

any great ideas for a good, solid, boy's name out there? my sister's due Jan 12 and is having a terrible time figuring out a name! nothing that's super-popular, too common, too goofy or wierd, something that is appropriate for both a child and as an adult....it sure is hard naming kids these days.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 3 months ago

Sublime:

Yes, I do understand your thoughts on the subject of names for children.

Thanks.

Marion.

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sublime 7 years, 3 months ago

oops ,I meant surprise,not surpise.

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sublime 7 years, 3 months ago

My step sister named her son Allerick...Not Allen or Rick,but Allerick.............She is a very pretentious individual so its no surpise that she came up with a name like that.

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sublime 7 years, 3 months ago

Aiden??There are alot af goofy boys names out there.Weak names like,Blake ,Blair ,Brent,Chet,Dillon,Ray,Coltier,Cody,Kyle,Todd,andTucker.....................I know an idiot that named his son Emith.Why someone would choose to give thier son a F#cked up name like that is beyond me.

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 3 months ago

Everytime I get new rosters for my 6th graders (I teach all 150+, once a week) I always have names that are genderless. I've embarrassed myself more than once when I have used the pronoun "he" for a young girl, who is a tomboy, wears her hair short, and wears jeans and a t-shirt. I always pass it off like I didn't realize that I said "he". The kids believe it, since I'm 54. They think I'm old as dirt, and senile.

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EvaTrujillo 7 years, 3 months ago

Agree. (All names ending in son = boy = not girl name.)

But nowadays, girls are being named with boys' names, anyway. Sometimes they don't get invited to the all-girl parties in the earlier grades because parents can't tell from the class roster that the boy name is actually a girl.

I also think the made-up spellings are confusing. Example - when someone changes the traditional spelling of a name then it seems everyone else stumbles over trying to say it correctly.

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Nikki May 7 years, 3 months ago

Addison is NOT a girls name. You can use if for a girl name and I'm not against it. But by definition it means son of adam. Oh and Mc/Mac names mean son of too. Mackenzie or whatever spelling means Son of Kenneth

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