You Named your Kid What?


So—I hate to ask a seemingly indelicate question. But—What’s up with baby names these days?

Sure, we’ve had celebrities  assign their children some strange names in recent years.  Heck, just this week Robert Downey Jr. and his wife named their son Exton Elias.  But I’m not as concerned about kids named Moxie Crimefighter or Pilot Inspektor as I am in knowing why the first names of most newly born kids in the US are ones that merely decades ago would have been nothing other than good, old-fashioned last names?

Why are we so obsessed with family names, we’ve nearly abandoned the sacred tradition—centuries, rather millennia in the making—of assigning “Christian names” to our newly hatched Madison’s and Mackenzie’s?

I know the American “family” is in decline. I know many now say America a “post-Christian” nation—(which is itself a misnomer, I might add). Does this underlie the confusion?

Seriously! What’s up?

Why is every Tom, Dick, and Harry now named Taylor, Devon, or Yale?

And what about these names with oblique, more often than not overt, allusions to the aristocrats of academia?

My own nephew, born last year, is named “Rhodes”—God bless his little, “high-IQ-ed” heart. I know his grandfather is a professor, and his aunt, yours truly, spent WAY too many years not making NEARLY enough money in academia—(thus, the high dollar move to blogging)—but that’s a lot of pressure on a little guy! How’s that for a “you-better-make-the-grade-or-else” kick-in-the-ass?

Now, I know I should keep my family out of this. I know my brother could and probably should kill me. (But he has a really great sense of humor; his name is “Tyce,” by the way, if that tells you anything about the DNA of naming in my family.)

I know, as well as you do, that a rose by any other name should smell as sweet, but what about poor “Baby Rose?”

Why has she morphed into little “Reagan?” Yes, I kid you not; she’s one of the  most popular girls’ names in the US. I love the old Gipper as much as the next left-leaning, non-Bible-toting, “doesn’t-give-a-hoot-about-Hollywood,” Democrat in America.

But—PLEASE!

Enough is enough!

My mother called me “Kathryn” for a reason. I was named after my grandmother, her first name, I might add. And there were a total of three “Kathy’s” in my kindergarten class—I was born in an era, now sadly past, when “normal” naming still happened in America—was right up there with good breeding!

Speaking of breeding—does it say anything about all that’s vogue in naming that my dogs are “Ralph” and “Lucy?”

What’s next?

I read somewhere that the name “Max” was expected to increase in popularity for little boys in the coming years, but isn’t that right up there with “Spot” as a common name for dogs in the US?

Are the sons (and daughters) of America now being named after their canine companions?

Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

(Though updated, this post is based on one I did in December 2010.)

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family.  (This post is not part of that series.)  To read one of my mafia-related memoir posts,”Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

60 thoughts on “You Named your Kid What?

    • I know, can you imagine being a kid with a name like Pilot? What I think about most is the mockery the kid might endure from other children. Thanks for stopping by the reading. It’s great to see you here. I see you commenting on many of the blogs I also read. Hope you’ll come back soon!

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  1. Funny! I talk about this with my friends, especially the ones who teach. Some of the names they come across are pretty amazing. And re dogs’ names: I actually know someone who had his name legally changed to that of his deceased dog’s name.

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    • I suppose they are going for “different,” but then there’s “different” and there’s “bizarre.” If you were upset about the name “Claudia,” think how these poor kids must feel.

      At any rate, I want to thank you for stopping by the taking the time to commment. Great to hear from you. Hope to see you again soon!

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  2. I have to agree, for the most part. Some names are so outrageous that it DOES seem that people/celebs are trying to outdo each other. I used to teach, and now I’m in the hotel business and I have seen and continue to see some very odd names. But some names I kinda like. In fact I happen to like the name Reagan, although I would never name my child that. (My children, by the way, are Ben, Joe, David and Maria.) And I LOVE the classic names that seem to be coming back, such as Sophia and Claire. Anyway, fun topic! I found your site after many months of reading your comments to Terri, and I’m really enjoying it. 🙂

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    • I’m so happy to have your visit and look forward to checking out your blog, as well.

      In the meantime, I have to agree. I love the classic, old-fashioned names, as well. Both Sophia and Claire are lovely.

      Thanks for stopping by the taking the time to comment. Hope to see you again soon!

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  3. This post made me giggle. We have an aunt who has a dog named “Jewel.” Our cousin turned around and named her daughter “Jewell.” Like the extra “L” made a lot of difference! We still have to clarify if we’re yelling for the dog or the kid! I’m all for unique names but my husband vetoed me. Jimmy is now one of five Jim’s in the family at the moment. After awhile it seems a little unimaginative when five heads turn at the holidays. Drives me crazy. “Miranda” wasn’t common when I was a kid. I was the only one the entire time I was in school. It didn’t bother me. But then if my name was Moon Unit, I think it might.

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  4. To each his own on the name front, but I prefer the Kathryn’s of this world to the Apple’s and Blue’s!
    Funnily enough, I always planned on naming a daughter “Regan”, which is my maiden name, but didn’t for a variety of reasons, but mostly because people thought it was odd – and now its derivative is the most common girl name in America? Funny that.

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    • I think it makes for a lovely girl’s name, but in the US it’s so hard to escape the Ronald Reagan association, I think. If it weren’t for that, I would love to name my daughter that. It’s sweet. (Didn’t know Regan was your maiden name.)

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  5. After reading this it occurred to me that there are probably more dogs out there being named Tom, Dick or Harry than kids. I’m a firm believer in “what goes around comes around”. A day will come when “retro” names like Kathy will be cool, and current popular body art like ornate sleeve tattoos will reflect a bygone era and seem dated when un-inked skin becomes the rage.

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  6. Love it and totally agree! What happened to “normal” names, to picking a name that would NOT force the other kids into teasing insults? Oh, and we had a neighbor who had a dog named Max and the gent’s name was…Rex! 😀

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  7. It seems that there is a big sway back to “old-fashioned” names for new babies these days. My niece has friends named Hazel, Dorothy (Dot!), and Violet. I much prefer these names to the supremely out-there ones like Blue Ivy and Apple.

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  8. I, too, am quite flabbergasted at some of the name children are given (burdened with?) these days… that said, I do commend the creativity of some of them. Especially those of the multisyllabic sort. I like such names as Echo, or Heaven (or Nevaeh backwardsheaven?!?). Or how about Diantha or Daxton… the possibilities are endless…
    🙂

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    • Yes, yes, they are a burden aren’t they? And that’s the last thing a kid needs, right–a name that in itself is a burden. I do think Echo is a lovely name, and I even like Heaven, as well.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today. It was great having you. Hope to see you again soon!

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  9. Smiling, oh how funny! There are some crazy names out there now. I named one kid normally and the other one unusually. I’m still not sure which was the better approach. I named Christopher for Jesus (a very Christ-like name, don’t you agree, although the poor lad does not resemble a Christian as he approaches age 30.) I named the other one Kiah, a name which caused my parents and in-laws to take swift deep breaths and retain their cool. That was before weird names took over. Kiah means “beginning of the season” in Africa even though she was born on New Year’s Eve. I hesitate to even write her name because next time she googles “Kiah” she’s going to find this comment. LOL!

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Kathy. I think Kiah is a gorgeous name, myself. I really, really love it–even the meaning is lovely. And how funny that you son is not exactly Christ-like at 30. I’m sure he’s a great kid!

      Thanks for reading, my friend! Hope you are staying warm and not falling on the ice!

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  10. Names flow with fashion, and like any other fashion, many names are in, then go out of style, before coming back again. I was one of three Terris in my kindergarten class. Now there don’t seem to be ANY kids named Terri.

    I named my daughter with a unisex name, then switched up the spelling to something I felt was more feminine. I thought it was cute and creative at the time. But it didn’t take too many years to figure out that the unique spelling would just end up being a nuisance for her. No one ever knows how to spell her name on the first try.

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    • Interesting that there were 3 Terri’s in your kindergarten class, as there were 3 Kathy’s in mine. Both of our names must have been pretty poular in the 60s. These days I think “Kate” is way more popular than “Kathy.” In fact, I never hear my name any more, either.

      Thanks for reading, Terri!

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  11. Oh no! I am the worst offender as I named my son Max after first naming my parents dog max. His middle name is Everett after his great grandfather and my daughter is Sophia Marie as Marie is a family name. I agree that trendy names are wacky. But I do love the name Max and it sounds great wih our last name Melancon!. I did not honestly know it was a dogs name. But I did love it so much I chose it for a dog before naming my child it. Oh well! Beats SPot!

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    • I think it just shows consistency, Nicole. You know what you like and you stick with it! I think it’s weird, actually, that Sara and I have given our dogs human names–Ralph and Lucy. I think Max is a lovely name, as is Sophia Marie. The latter is, actually, quite beautiful! Hugs—————-

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  12. Just found out that Beyonce’s baby, Blue Ivy, is sure to be best friends with Gwyneth Paltrow’s sweet little girl, Apple. This makes me happy in that at least each child won’t feel like she has the absolute weirdest name in the world. I like keeping things classic. My son has the first name of his dad and my maiden name for his middle name. Simple. Connected. I’d hate to have to tell a child their name was simply made up!

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  13. LOL … this has been going on for so long. I think we’re just more aware of it now because of the idiotic media stories.

    When I was in high school (oh so many years ago) there were three kids, two girls and a boy, from the same family (i think they were all a year apart … doesn’t really matter). The family’s last name was Coast. Instead of giving the kids “normal” first names, they chose Stormy, Misty, and Rocky. I kid you not! I always felt a little sorry for them.

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    • Okay, my friend, your comment made me laugh out loud–literally. Those poor, poor kids. My mother had a friend in school whose name was Rose. She married a guy whose last name was “Bush,” so she became “Rose Bush.” But that was an adult decision on her part. At least she wasn’t a poor kid born with a weird name–one she had to carry for life.

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  14. I’ve been awful about keeping up with blog reading lately, but this one really caught my attention, seeing as how my husband and I recently entered into this situation ourselves, hehe. I always knew I would have a little girl named Melanie. I had been dreaming of a little Melanie since I was 17. (Literally dreaming of her…I knew I wasn’t cut out for the cloistered calling when I started having consistent baby dreams.) And then, I married Robert…and his last name is German. It’s ten letters, three syllables, and has a silent “h” at the end of it. We agreed very early into our relationship that any offspring of ours would have a simple, normal, easy-to-spell and -pronounce first name.

    We made our decision to name our child with a traditional name and a traditional spelling for several reasons. Two of mine were 1. my sympathy for our children having to learn how to spell and write their names and 2. my empathy with our children’s future teachers. I hate the first day of classes because of the incredible likelihood that I will mispronounce my students’ first names (and not just their last names!). I make a big deal to them about how they should correct me if I get it wrong because I would hate to spend an entire semester pronouncing their name wrong. I had a girl last semester whose name was “Azurea.” On the first day of class, I call out for “Azure-e-ah.” (Like the color plus “e-ah.”) She corrects me: “Azure-ay.” And then she says, “and it has an apostrophe after it.” I never once put that apostrophe after her name…it seemed obnoxious. Especially since an apostrophe doesn’t change the pronunciation of a person’s name in the English language. (I think in some languages it indicates a click or something…but not in English!) It’s bad enough when you get an Andrea who wants to be called “Ahn-dray-uh.” But these other crazy ass names? I agree with you–they’re for the dogs! 😉

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    • Great to hear from you, Amanda. I think Melanie is a darling name–complicated last name or not. Hopefully that sweet girl will be here soon. I bet you are getting awfully excited to see her dear face! You are going to be an amazing mother, my friend! Congrats to you Robert! Hugs————-

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  15. I feel sorry for these kids growing up with names that have to be explained, or spelled every time they are mentioned. Parents can be so cruel, thoughtless and completely stupid. With a surname like Kolkka, with too many Ks my mother wisely kept our names simple, Debra, Jenifer, Robert and Peter.
    I named my son Brandon and it was fairly unusual until Beverley Hills 90210 when it suddenly became very popular, although that crop of Brandons is much younger than my 38 year old son.

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  16. I actually really love unique first names! I always wanted to be named something exotic. My son’s name is Xander, but the root name is Alexander, so he can be Alex or Alexander or Xander or whatever he wants to morph it into when he grows up. “Christine” always felt so pious and refined to me, and those are two things I am definitely not!!

    I’ve noticed that old-fashioned names are gaining popularity again, which I love. There was an Isadora in my son’s Kindergarten class; what a gorgeous name! His school is super diverse, so there are lots of Amers and Mohammads and Joses and tons of other types of names, too. I love it. There’s a “Franklin” in his class, too. LOVE.

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    • Actually, I think “Xander” is a darling name–an a wonderful variation on Alexander. I have a sister-in-law named Alexandra, who goes by “Alex.” And honestly, I have never liked the name “Kathy.” I much prefer “Kate” or “Katie.”

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  17. This cracked me up: “…and his aunt, yours truly, spent WAY too many years not making NEARLY enough money in academia—(thus, the high dollar move to blogging)…”

    My husband is in academia where the big bucks do not reside, and I know just how high paying blogging is…lol!

    My oldest granddaughter is an Emma, which is a nice, old-fashioned name. However, her middle name is Addison (because Wrigley Field is on Addison and Clark Streets — I kid you not — and Emma’s parents are both die-hard Cubs fans — still not kidding). Emma’s younger sister’s name is Madison Grace. I’m not sure why they picked Madison but I’m glad it wasn’t Clark. 😉

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    • How funny, Robin! I laughed out loud when I read your comment! I, too, am glad for you that Madison’s middle name is not “Clark.” And I’m so happy that academia is bringing in the big bucks for you all, as well! I knew that was something I loved about you!

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  18. Some time ago I wrote a post myself about the crazy names being used these days. You really do have to wonder what the parents are thinking. I’m sure their wish is for their children to be as unique as the names bestowed upon them, but sometimes the kids have the last say anyway.

    David Bowie (real name David Jones) had a son in the 1960’s who he named Zowie…Zowie Bowie! I read recently that (the rather conservative looking, compared to his father in his younger days) Zowie, now goes by the name of Duncan Jones! That’s a “fixer-upper” if ever there was one! 😀

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    • Fascinating detail. Zowie Bowie is one weird name, isn’t it? Poor kid. But I guess “Duncan” set things straight. If I ever write about celebrity names themselves, I will have to use this information. Thanks so much for sharing it. Hope you have a lovely Sunday!

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  19. I’m a little behind in some of my reading & commenting . . . Very funny post! I totally agree – the poor kids that have to live with these names. David Bowie at least gave his son other choices – according to Wikipedia he was christened Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones.

    By the way, I too am named after my grandmother – whom nobody really liked?! Thankfully, my 4-year old brother decided to shorten it to “Lisa”.

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    • Yeah, that was decent of David Bowie. Give the kid a choice, at the very least. By the way, my younger siblings could not say “Kathy,” so I ended up with the nick-name “Guck”–which I HATED. And my nephew called me “Gaggy.” Funny how that happens.

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