February 26, 2015


Crew ~ A group of people ~ English

This interesting little one-syllable word name has been popping up more and more lately on birth certificates across the country. And it's fascinating to me, because it can have so many different connotations. Check out a sampling of some dictionary definitions for the word:

  1. a group of people who work on and operate a ship, boat, aircraft, spacecraft, or train.
  2. a group of people who work closely together.
  3. a group of rappers, breakdancers, or graffiti artists performing or operating together.
The first one feels preppy and sporty, the second one warm and cuddly, and the third, super cool.

And there are plenty more that we think of when it comes to this word. For example...

Associations With the Word Crew
  • rowing—crew is a word for a rowing team and the sport (more on that below!)
  • crew cut—a military haircut
  • crew neck—a t-shirt neckline
  • J. Crew—clothing brand
  • American Crew—hair products brand
  • cast & crew —behind-the-scenes workers on a film set
  • crew cab—a truck bed size
  • tagging crews—graffiti teams
  • The Crew—a video game
  • motley crew—a diverse, poorly organized group
  • Mötley Crüe—the heavy metal band

The Bottom Line
Despite the wildly different things this word can make us conjure, when Crew is used as a name, two associations stand out among the rest: rowing (by a landslide) and clothing. The name Crew strikes many as sporty, preppy, and muscular. It brings to mind a dedicated athlete who's a team player by necessity. And that's another reason this sport shines—it brings a team together like none other. There is no star in crew, just a unified group rowing as one perfectly choreographed unit.

If you're drawn to this name, but the sport is a bit of a question mark for you, here's a little more info from the River City Crew website out of Richmond, VA:
"Crew", as a noun, can refer to either the people in a specific high school or collegiate rowing boat or the entire sport of rowing in high school or college. The term "crew team" is redundant and is not properly used. After college, the term "crew" is no longer used to describe the sport or people in a boat, and "rowing team" or "rowing club" is proper. In the sport of rowing, "crew" is never, ever properly used as a verb, i.e., one does not "go crewing", rather one would "go rowing". When in doubt, the noun "rowing team" or verb "rowing" will always be correct when describing the sport.
Consider yourself schooled. Even if you don't have a background in the sport, you can use the word "crew" confidently.

Does Crew Have to Be All About Rowing?
There isn't any one "right" interpretation of this name, so if you weren't inspired by the sport originally, don't let that shake you from using Crew. There are no guarantees as to how Crew will strike your friends, but chances are they will think of the same thing you first thought of. They're your friends, after all! The sport is just the most common association that will spring to mind for many, and that's not a bad thing.

No matter what, first impressions of a name will fade once the person attached to it makes his entrance in the world. If you want to set the record straight from the beginning, remember that your personal connection to Crew is a short explanation away. People will love your fashion-forward style and want to hear how you chose the name, so take questions as a compliment and be prepared to talk names the first time you introduce your son. Besides, who doesn't love a good name discussion anyway?

Does Crew Really Work as a Name?
I think it does. There are many examples of words that became successful names that work with the right trends (Chance and Maverick come to mind), and there's no reason why Crew should be an exception. If you weren't convinced before, think of Crew's quick sound and sporty feel. Add to that its connection (by sound only) to names like Drew, Cruz, and Bruce, and you may wonder why America didn't think of this name before.

Even though it's pretty rare, Crew is on its way up. It broke through the top 1,000 in 2011 and sits at 732 at last check. I expect it to continue wooing parents over the next few years.

Celebrity Babies Named Crew
One celebrity baby was all it took to get this name in the minds of today's parents.

  • The Young & The Restless star Joshua Morrow and his wife welcomed a Crew in 2005. Crew has brothers named Cooper and Cash, and a sister named Charlie.

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One Syllable Names

February 20, 2015


Piper ~ Flute Player ~ English

There's something about this name that makes me smile. It's bright, cheerful, musical, and adorable. Its meaning is obvious, but not exactly immediate (seeing as how it's not a common word in modern English), making it that much more wearable for a little girl. Piper makes a contemporary fashion statement, but it's not overly bold.

While Piper wasn't used until recent times as a first name, the word piper has been in existence for quite some time to describe a flute or bagpipe player.

The fairytale The Pied Piper may tell a dark and eerie story, but it's hardly the first thing we think of when we hear this name. Still, it's one of the most prominent examples of the use of this word. Through the tellings and retellings of this legend, as told by the Brothers Grimm and many others, a name for the piper is never given. It's part of the mystery surrounding his existence that he appears suddenly, does not identify himself, and is simply known as the "piper".

Like many other terms that describe an occupation, Piper is an English surname. It comes from the Old English word pipere, which refers to a pipe player.

Fifteen years ago, the name Piper wasn't even a blip on the radar in America. Using this name would have been quite unusual until the year 2000 or so, when the TV show Charmed brought this name to our attention. (Charmed also helped launch Phoebe to more popularity.) Piper recently broke through the top 100 names for girls and now sits at #97.

Here's a graphic of how Piper's popularity plays out across the country, courtesy of Baby Name Mapper. Even though it's safe to say Piper is loved in every state, it's a favorite in the midwest and the northwest, with the most Piper fans residing in Montana.

If you're worried about Piper being "too popular," it might just depend on where you live. Just because a name is in the top 100s doesn't mean your daughter will have to share her name with a classmate. I'm a big believer that sometimes the name chooses you, so if you're looking for a little encouragement to get past the potential popularity of Piper, you got it! It's a fantastic, on-trend choice.

Piper doesn't come with any formal variations. It's simple and perfect just how it is. But even for a name that strikes us as adorable, nicknames may come into play. I've heard of parents using Pipe, Pippa, Pip, Pipes, or Pepper. And some parents, perhaps looking to make the name stand out (no need!), spell the name Pyper, though that is rare.
Famous Namesakes & Celebrity Babies
  • Piper Perabo, actress
  • Piper Laurie, actress
  • Piper Maru Anderson-Klotz, daughter of actress Gillian Anderson
  • Piper Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin
  • Piper Adelaide Gooding, daughter of Cuba Gooding Jr.

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Harper ~ Juniper ~ Penelope ~ Scarlett

February 3, 2015


Sanderson ~ Alexander's Son ~ Scottish

First, a little explanation. This name and the story around it has created a huge stir after The Bachelor aired on Monday. #SandersonPoe became a Twitter phenomenon after Kelsey Poe, a contestant on the show, shared the story of her husband's tragic death. The way in which she shared this story is what has everyone abuzz, a topic that I'd like to avoid, but an interesting little side note are the ripples made by her late husband's name: Sanderson Poe.

Eonline had this to say:
"...our new favorite name that is apparently actually real..."
There were tons of tweets along those lines. The name is just so mysterious, ultra-cool, literary, and dignified that it feels like a soap-opera style name created to drum up more drama. The fact that it is very much real gives it even more punch. It's so catchy that most of America had no trouble remembering it. And while it's definitely the combo of his specific first and last name that makes this one a superstar on its own, I wanted to talk a little about the name Sanderson. I know some people out there are curious or truly inspired by this name.

Sanderson translates to "Alexander's Son". Alexander is firmly in the Greek column, but this derivative is a Scottish clan name (with English use as well). It stems from the name Sander or Sanders, a Dutch form of Alexander. The feminine name Sandra comes from this name as well.

Sanderson is just another drop in the overflowing bucket of Alexander derivatives. Like many other Scottish clan names, there are several different spellings of this surname out there, like Saunderson, for example.

If you were wondering whether this name has a connection to Anderson, the answer is...not really. Remove the first S, and you get Anderson, which means "Andrew's son" and is the eighth most common surname in Scotland. But even though it sounds similar, Sanderson comes from a different name altogether.

It doesn't take a name expert to come to the conclusion that using Sanderson as a given name is exceptionally rare.

Could this name catch on because of the attention it received on The Bachelor? I doubt it, but I do expect a few parents to be truly inspired by the sound of this interesting name. If you're looking for nickname options, I'd avoid Sandy and look to Sander to fit today's trends, in the vein of Xander (or Zander) and Sawyer.

I'm sure most people landing on this article were simply curious about the name, but for those of you considering adding Sanderson to your list of potential baby names, choosing this name would definitely bring this episode of The Bachelor to mind for any fans. That doesn't mean that you couldn't make it your own. A family claim to the name or another connection would help. Pair it with a one-syllable surname and you have a catchy name for sure...albeit a little bit derivative.

There are loads of examples of parents getting name inspiration from reality TV, even from people who don't have the best reputation or are surrounded by controversy. Americans love unique, catchy surnames and Sanderson is no exception. If the name truly speaks to you, I say go for it.

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Alexander ~ Sebastian ~ Maxwell

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.