September 22, 2014

Updates: Autumn Babies, Troublemakers, and more!

Some of you may have noticed that I've begun to blog on Laura Wattenberg's site Baby Name Wizard. I've been freelancing for her for a couple of years now, but I'm still floored that my writing will be featured next to hers. It's really an honor, and it's so exciting for me. One of my concerns was making sure her readers know I'm a different Laura, and I think we accomplished that. But my column will get its own sparkly new section on BNW eventually.

One of the things I love about blogging there so far is that it's challenged me to take my name lists up a notch. I revived my post that I originally wrote for nameisms on Troublemaker Names, which we called "The Troublemaker Trend: Boy Names with a Hint of Mischief". This time I took a harder look at the names I'd originally included, deleted some, and added some more names that are on the verge of sparking a trend. It's all around a better article, and I love the collection of names that came together for it. It doesn't get more fun than names like Rebel, Brazen, Rowdy, and Riot. It was also interesting to me to see how the names morphed in my mind from the beginning of the process to the end—at first some of them, Riot in particular, struck me as harsh and borderline ridiculous. But then making the connection with the sounds of the names, and focusing less on the word, gave me a whole new outlook. Riot sounds cute and completely light-hearted to me, like your hilarious buddy from college who was alway such a riot. I do prefer the alternative spellings like Ryett, though, which removes it just a little bit from the word and links it to Wyatt. (Or even Rhett! Now there is an unlikely pairing.)

My most recent post is completely fresh content! 20 Names Perfect For Autumn Babies includes a few names that are classic for Fall, as well as LOTS of lovely names that have surprising Fall connections. It's absolutely one of my all-time favorite posts. My intention was to create a list of names that capture something we love about fall, whether it's in the meaning or other associations. I wanted it to be easy to discover beautiful, seasonal names, so these are truly hand-picked, "top" choices. I didn't want to create a huge list that takes lots of time to sort through, or a hodgepodge of some seasonal names, mixed in with names that don't really have any fall connections. And I hope I did it well! Here's a little sneak peak of some of the featured Fall names: Aurelia, Jack, Oakley, and Hunter. Are you swooning yet?

While I'm keeping busy elsewhere, I do think I'll keep posting to nameisms on occasion. This is where my public love affair with names all started, and it's important to me. I'll continue with name features and makeovers in the future, but in the meantime bear with me, and please visit Baby Name Wizard whenever you're craving some baby name inspiration.

December 23, 2013

Celebrity Baby Names of 2013: Fall Season

Listed are the baby's birthday, parents' information and the baby's first and middle name (if available). I'll update the list as late announcements for the season come in. A few words of commentary—in the form of celebrity name awards—are below!

Baby Girls:

September 28, Rachael Leigh Cook and Daniel Gillies: Charlotte Easton

October 1, Jessica St. Clair and husband Dan O’Brien: Isobel Kelly

October 15, Stephen Amell and wife Cassandra Jean: Mavi Alexandra Jean

November 16, Chris Powell and wife Heidi: Ruby Lane

November 26, Jennifer Love Hewitt and husband Brian Hallisay: Autumn James

November 27, Tony Kanal and Erin Lokitz: Saffron Rose

November 30, Brooke Anderson and husband Jim Walker: Lily Georgina ("Lily George")

December 6, Rockmond Dunbar and wife Maya: Berkeley Seon

Baby Boys:

September 29,  reality TV star Rob Cesternino and wife Nicole: Dominic James

September 30, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and wife Catriona McGinn: Dekker Edward

October 5, Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez: Maceo-Robert

October 6, Jaime King and husband Kyle Newman: James Knight

October 9, Dierks Bentley and wife Cassidy: Knox

October 14, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner: Joseph Frederick

October 17, Jason Behr and KaDee Strickland: Atticus

October 17, Zac Hanson and wife Kate: George Abraham Walker ("Abraham")

October 22, Morena Baccarin and husband Austin Chick: Julius

October 27, Emile Hirsch: Valor

October 29, Michael Weatherly and wife Bojana Jankovic: Liam

October 30, Michelle Monaghan and husband Peter White: Tommy Francis

November 4, Victoria Recaño and husband Tom Burwell: Sebastian Oscar

November 10, David Walton and Majandra Delfino: Louis Augustus (LOU-ee)

November 20, Paula Garces and husband Antonio Hernandez: Antonio Andres

November 25, Autumn Reeser and husband Jesse Warren: Dashiell Ford

November 29, Erin Burnett and husband David Rubulotta: Nyle Thomas

December 2, Stephen Barker Liles and fiancée Jenna Kennedy: Jett Barker

December 3, Kim Fields and husband Christopher Morgan: Quincy Xavier

December 4, Lee Brice and wife Sara: Ryker Mobley

December 7, Kate Winslet and husband Ned Rocknroll: Bear

Fall 2013

The boys definitely owned this season, with more than two-thirds of the announcements going blue.

Top Stereotypical Celebrity Name
Names that give celebs a reputation for using wild or odd names. 

People is reporting today that Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll have named their son Bear. Color me surprised! Bear is brother to Mia and Joe. (Another celeb couple who chose Bear are Alicia Silverstone and her husband Christopher Jarecki.)

Top Trendy Names 
Names that are recently a hit with celebs and not-so-famous parents alike.
WINNERS: Sebastian, Atticus

Most Classic Name
Classic names that no one pays attention to because they aren't wild enough.
WINNER: Joseph Frederick

Best Intriguing Name
A name that is a little surprising, in a nice way. 

Newest Trend
An interesting trend showing up in this season's names, whether or not it's a trend on a large scale.
This season happens to highlight an interesting theme in the few girls' names that were available—masculine and unisex middle names for girls!
WINNERS: Charlotte Easton, Ruby Lane, Autumn James, and Lily "George"

Most Likely To Spark a Trend
Names that may gain greater popularity due to the exposure of celebrity parents.

Personal Favorite  
My own choice for best names. What's yours?
WINNERS: Isobel Kelly, Dominic James

Share Your Thoughts
No matter what the style, we all love critiquing the name choices of the rich and famous. Please share your opinions in the comments!

You may also like: Celebrity Baby Names of 2013: Summer Season

December 17, 2013

Updates: Holiday Food Names and Winter Cabin Names

A quick note: I updated my 1950s name makeover posts just slightly with two or three corrections on name stats. It turns out I was looking at the last popularity number on a couple of the original names, instead of the (absent) rank for 2012. I blame motherhood.

My latest post for Name Candy is all about baby names inspired by your holiday cooking. It includes some trendy spice names and food names that just may appear in your favorite dishes this season, from Apple to Sherry. Check it out!

I was eager to create a holiday-inspired baby names list that was a little different, and I had a lot of fun creating that list. the back of my mind, I had another list idea. I decided not to publish it, but changed my mind at the last second to include it here as a sort of "bonus" thrown in amongst my updates. My hesitation stems from a few things—it's a little unfinished, some of the names are kind of a stretch, and many of these names are already part of my Christmas and Holiday Names List, or they feel like they belong with another list altogether. That's one of the great things about writing about names. One post leads to another, and this one seemed like an interesting brainstorm that could (and did!) create ideas for a better list down the road.

So, with all of those disclaimers in mind, I give you... (drumroll!)

A classic holiday ski destination and a nature name, Aspen is on an upward trend for girls.

Inspired by another ski resort town, Breckenridge, the word "Brecken" means freckled.

I included Coco in the list I wrote for Name Candy—it's a charming name meaning "chocolate" emerging from the realm of nicknames into formal names, helped along by Courtney Cox.

I warned you, didn't I? Cosette is my contrived way of getting to the nickname Cozy. It conjures up snuggling by the fire for me, sorta, but Cosette is the French feminine form of Nicholas. She's also my favorite character from Les Miserables.

This gem name came to me via ski trail symbols...not that I've ever been past the bunny hill.

I love this trendy name, which is an Old English word meaning "from the boar meadow". For this list, though, I was thinking of evergreens, bringing us a little color and life in the midst of a snowy winter.

I recently wrote about this nature name. It's a more direct reference to evergreens, perfect for this time of year.

Oak is the wood of choice for cabin-themed furniture, and the name Oakley is Old English for wood clearing.

A river doesn't exactly scream "winter cabin" but my favorite ski resort towns feature a prominent and picturesque mountain stream.

Roses may not be in season during the winter, but rosy cheeks are. Did I mention I came up with many of these names while up with my baby in the middle of the night?

This name is a much more fitting choice for the theme. It's a pretty word and I think it would make a great middle name.


This one is my favorite of them all. It's a lovely nature name and comes with the fashionably old-fashioned nickname Win and Winnie.

Thanks for bearing with me! And let me know if you can think of any other cabin-ish names for this time of year. I took a lot of creative license, so you have to do the same!

December 13, 2013

Fanny, Fannie, and the Frances Family of Names

Frances ~ Frenchman ~ English

A day or two ago, I thought I'd take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.
Miss Fanny Bright must have been a hot date back in the day! The lyrics of the second verse to Jingle Bells is a small reminder of how prevalent and, well, normal the name Fanny used to be. I was reminded of this sweet little nickname (that took an interesting turn) while singing the song with my 9-month-old, and I just had to do a little research. Of course.

I looked around online to confirm the lyrics of Jingle Bells, especially after finding most sources spelling Miss Fannie's name as Fanny. An article in Wikipedia cleared this up for me—apparently the original spelling was Fannie, not Fanny. It makes perfect sense when you look at the popularity of the names.

Fannie and Fanny
Fannie is a short form of the name Frances. Here's how its popularity looks, using a screenshot from the Baby Name Wizard's Expert Name Voyager.

Keep in mind that this reflects the name on the birth certificate—it doesn't take into account the multitude of girls who were named Frances but were given the nickname Fannie. Just imagine how popular this little name was in the 1800s when you combine the two spellings and the unknown number of girls who went by Fannie informally.

So, what happened to the beloved names Fanny and Fannie? I think we can all guess—somewhere along the line fanny, and the plural fannies, became slang for a person's bottom, or in Great Britain, female genitalia. Here's what Google tells me when I look for a definition of fanny:

You can probably start to see what happened when you compare the Baby Name Wizard graphs with this graph of the slang term. The names Fanny and Fannie were SO popular in the 1800s that they came to be associated with a female in general, and took a turn for the vulgar from there. Miss Fannie Bright was just a good example of a fashionable girl of the 1850s, when Jingle Bells was written.

Because Fannie and Fanny used to be so popular, there are lots of famous ladies from the 1800s who bore the name. Some have better associations than others, but, sadly, the slang terms trump them all. Fanny would be right on par with Victorian-revival nicknames like Hattie, Winnie, Addie, Lottie, Nellie, and Sadie, except for its associations. While it's not likely that anyone would use Fanny or Fannie today, its original forms are far from out of the picture.

The name Frances means "French" or "Frenchman" and came about as the feminine form of Francis in the 17th century, long after St. Francis of Assisi had already established the name. The feminine forms did not become the classic that Francis did, perhaps because of the nickname Fanny. Today Frances feels old-fashioned but not completely outdated. It has stayed in the top 1,000 names for girls. The more I think about this name, the more enamored I am with it.

This is the most popular feminine variation of Francis in the US today. It's the Italian form and is a little bit more attractive to our ears, in the vein of Bianca or even (non-Italian) names like Rebecca and Jessica. Francesca has been ranked in the high 400s for the past six years. It has a lovely ring to it and a sophisticated feel.

Pope Francis and Name Popularity
I'm going to touch on a subject that everyone is talking about: Pope Francis. The world is enamored with him, and here's just one article that explains why. He's Time's Person of the Year, and likely the Baby Name Wizard's Name of the Year.

The male name Francis is pronounced the same as the feminine spelling, Frances. The Pope's popularity could affect every variation of the name, but I really wanted to talk about the feminine side. (Back to male names next time, I promise!)

Will we see a bump in the use of Francis and all its forms for 2013? I bet we will. Catholic parents and plenty of others are inspired by the pope, and hearing his name so often in the news doesn't hurt matters. Here's one article that claims parents are naming their sons after the pope, however, the evidence is one couple who used Francis as a middle name for their son, and another mom who says she's "open" to using the name. Not convincing, but a fun story nonetheless! And I agree with the thought behind the article—people are definitely intrigued by the name Francis and are considering using it in some way.

Feminine Variations
Here's a look at the feminine variations and short forms of Francis.
  • Fanny, Fannie
  • Fanya
  • Fran, Frannie, Franny
  • Franca
  • France
  • Francene, Francine
  • Frances
  • Francesca
  • Francie
  • Francois
What do you think of the feminine forms of Francis? Are they ready for a little more popularity? What are your favorite variations?

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