In 1976, my parents settled on Jennifer as a pretty name with a nice ring to it. That would have been fine, except in 1976, practically everyone thought Jennifer was a pretty name with a nice ring to it. As a result, I went through school being one of two or three Jennifers in every class.
I swore up and down that I would be more original when the time came to name my own children. But, wouldn’t you know it? I ended up naming my son one of the most popular names for boys in 2006…it might even have been in the top five.
Choosing a popular name isn’t as disastrous as it used to be, however. In 1955, 32 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls were given one of the names on that year’s Top 10 list. In 2007 the stats had fallen to nine percent for boys and eight percent for girls.
Popular as his name is, my son doesn’t even have to use his last initial in class this year, because he isn’t sharing his name with anyone else.
According to name trend analyst and creator of babynamewizard.com, Laura Wattenberg, the more telling names are much lower in the rankings.
The less common, more original names are actually trend based too. Lately, there has been a trend toward naming children after weaponry. Names like Colt, Remington, Gauge, Beretta, Gunner and Stryker are showing up more frequently.
Wattenberg says, “We’ve always named after inanimate objects, but they indicated what we found precious – like Pearl and Lily. The idea that so many parents are holding firearms to the level of a Jewel or a Grace must say something about where our hopes and dreams now lie.”
Well that’s depressing.
But, naming trends morph and move around and the names come to denote something else entirely. Case-in-point, the country club set once had ownership of swanky names like Bentley, Easton, Brantley and Westley, but now they are apparently the preferred choice of cowboys. As Wattenberg says, they are “total western.”
And there’s proof now that the video game generation have started to procreate. They are giving their children names like Raiden, Cortana, Jax and Roxas. My spell check underlined every single one of those, proving that they are not only uncommon names, they are not actually words.
Wattenberg points out that parents are not exclusively choosing the good-guy names either, increasingly villains are being enrolled in preschools.
“We’re also seeing a lot of video game villains and anti-hero names,” Wattenberg says, “There are even babies being named Alucard which is Dracula backward.”
Perhaps the most interesting trend Wattenberg has noticed lately is the new tendency for parents to use the entire keyboard when devising names.
“We’ve pushed the limits of object names, and of the alphabet. So the next frontier turns out to be punctuation.” Wattenberg uses the example Kay’lyn, to demonstrate her point. “You look at birth records in local papers, you’ll see apostrophes and dashes and even the occasional asterisk.”
All of this has me wishing I could name my son all over again. With these new and expanded parameters, I’m sure I could come up with something much more unique the second time around. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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