Sunday, May 7, 2017

Terms of Endearment - Terrific or Tacky?

Hello, readers!

As name tastes continue to widen and diversify, all sorts of monikers that would never have been considered a decade ago are suddenly available. Celebrities have been given free reign, and this type of freedom is starting to extend to everyone - from nicknames to three middle names, birth certificates are more exciting than ever! But are there pet names too saccharine for even the quirkiest parent to use?

"Honey" (2003) theatrical poster, Wikipedia

In 2003, Jessica Alba starred in a film called Honey, playing a music video choreographer named Honey Daniels. Though the film received negative reviews, the effect of this character on name records was undeniably positive: while only twenty-five babies were named Honey in 2003, seventy-seven were given the name in 2004 and 109 in 2005. The name plateaued and declined, but the impact of this rather minor film is worth noting. Not even "Honey Boo Boo" (Alana Thompson) had this much name influence when she rose to fame after 2008. 

Did Honey get popular because of Jessica Alba's star power? Or, since this name was already a familiar pet name, were parents just more open to it? Let's look at some other terms of endearment that have made it into official records: 

Sweetie - Recorded regularly between 1889 and 1948 (and, surprisingly, in 2001), Sweetie had an adorable retro sound - think Hattie or Sadie - but not much substance to back it up. 

Darling - First debuted in 1920, but this stylish pick had its highest number of babies born in 2014, with twenty-nine girls given the name. 

Dearie - Only showed up in 2010! Less than ten girls per year have been given the name since, but it continues to show up as a first name. This pet name is admittedly a bit dated, and Dearie could have gotten its boost from such vintage vibes. 

Babe - Now associated with the cinematic pig, Babe was used for both boys and girls between 1880 and 1980. It could have some of the same pitfalls as Baby (see below), but the Babe Ruth influence is too important not to mention. 

Baby - Many times, this was written in birth records because the parents hadn't decided on a name, or didn't feel it was important to report - check out Laura Wattenberg's interesting article on "no name" babies before 9/11. But in 1987, Dirty Dancing introduced American audiences to Baby Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey, and by 1989, Baby was in the top 1000. It remained there until the early 2000's, helped in no small part by Baby Spice of the Spice Girls. But this name has spent its pop culture credibility, and was given to less than fifteen babies last year. 

Lovey - Honestly, I've heard this name applied to cats more than humans, but it was recorded for over 120 years! Today, Love is more likely to make it onto birth certificates, along with the other modern virtue choices sweeping the charts - Serenity and Genesis among them. 

Sugar - The definition of sweetness, Sugar has the cheerful benefit of featuring in a lot of popular music, from Sugar Sugar by the Archies to Sugar by Maroon 5. But it's a bit too glucose-heavy for many tastes.

Bae - Conflicting origin stories aside, Bae has entered the lexicon of terms of endearment used by millennials. It's arisen around the same time Bailey and Baylor have become popular - coincidence, or co-evolution? It's also been given as a first name to a couple dozen babies in the past five years.

Are more parents destined to bestow names in the same way that Jamie and Jools Oliver do? Or are these names just flukes, and unlikely to catch on the way "traditional names" do? Tell me your opinions in the comments!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Names for Adventurers

Hello, readers!

As spring turns to summer, daydreams of vacations are beginning to materialize in itineraries and tickets - seeing more of the world (or even just the world around your neighborhood) is a wonderfully invigorating activity. If you've caught the travel bug, check out these names inspired by adventuring!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Journey
One of the more modern virtue names, Journey is a beautiful word name that seems to fit right into the world of names - it's not too far off from classic Julie or millennial Jordan. While two spellings of Journey rank for girls, it's been given a boost in the boys' column too (thanks to Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green's son). 

Peregrine
At face value, this name calls to mind the powerful and widespread peregrine falcon, a perfect symbol of wanderlust. However, Peregrine also means "traveler" or "pilgrim", giving it more background substance. There's also a few excellent namesakes, from the first English baby born in the United States to Pippin Took of Lord of the Rings

Sailor
While Saylor is rising up the top 1000, the original spelling feels less trendy and more intrepid. Both Christie Brinkley and Bristol Palin have daughters named Sailor, and it fits in well with the occupational name trend. Pop culture aficionados will love the Sailor Moon connection, too!

Ferdinand
The first European to cross the Pacific, Ferdinand Magellan isn't the only travel link for this name - it comes from the German for "bold journey." Both Fernando and Fernanda rank on the popularity charts, but this original version has an eccentric and exciting vibe. If the long form feels too clunky, try out nicknames Freddie or Andy

Atlas
Already in the top 500, this handsome name was worn by the Titan who held up the sky in Greek mythology. Today, Atlas is more likely to conjure up images of colorful maps than marble statues, but the strength of its origin story remains. 

Quest
Bold and determined, Quest is a quirky alternative to other Q names like Quinn or Quentin. Modern audiences are likely to connect it to Johnny Quest or Galaxy Quest, but this word has a historical air that helps it balance between the old and the new. It also works well in the middle name spot. 

Wilder
A recent addition to the top 1000, Wilder is another occupational name that seems ideally primed for the first name position. It's warm and friendly, cool and free. Book lovers will enjoy the connection to writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, and comedy fans will pick up on the Gene Wilder connection. It's also a viable alternative to masculine standard William

Viatrix
An ancient Roman name meaning "voyager", Viatrix was altered into Beatrix, then Beatrice over time (though Beatrice has a separate origin). This sophisticated choice could be revived today, thanks to its unique sound and high Scrabble value - both a V and an X?! Nicknames range from feminine Via to retro Trixie, and the name is included in the word "aviatrix".

Trip
Spelled with a second P, it's another Palin choice, but this short-and-sweet name is more than a fad. Trip emerged as a nickname for "thirds" - John Smith III, for example - but the word name is an energetic and contemporary choice. One drawback - Trip may be associated with drug use in some groups. 

What travel-related names have I left out? Tell me in the comments!