Would you name your kid Gethsemane? The hottest baby names of 2017, so far
Barring celebs and those working under a nom de plume (Mark Twain, George Eliot, Dr. Seuss — doctor indeed!), no one chooses their own name. It's one of the 'gifts' you're given at birth and you have to own it, or eventually change it.
But, if you're planning on giving birth in the next 11 months or just naming a newborn, here are the designations that will keep you and your baby on, or very off, current trends.
So far, the shortlist for 2017 has Isabella, Olivia and Emma in the lead for trendiest girl names and Noah, Liam and Aiden as well-liked names for boys (baby names are still heavily gendered). Not so different from last year in Canada when Sophia, Olivia and Emma were the top feminine designations with Liam, Noah and Lucas rounding out the most fashionable masculine epithets. Or maybe Canadians are just trendsetters. This proud Canuck cottons to that theory.
Make no mistake though, names really do fall out of favour. Some we recognize instantly as older "grampy and grammy" names. I'm thinking of the Gertrudes, Henrys, Bethanies, Dorothies, Geralds, Margarets, and Philberts out there. Cute, but definitely dated. Other names fall out of favour for historical reasons. Few parents were clamouring to name their boys Adolf after WWII (side note: tiny square moustaches also never recovered). I prophecize the name Donald may prove a divisive choice in the near future as well. Sincerest apologies to all the upright Donalds and Adolfs out there.
But some more current names we now know have definitely dropped in popularity. Take notes. They are Miley, Britney, Channing, Karly, Lamar, Sidney, Krystal, Craig, Denzel, and Courtney. The hard truth is they're either played out or people simply don't like the associations (we're looking at you, Channing "Magic Mike" Tatum — put a shirt on, already!). No one wants nominal allegiance to a stripper, no matter how beautiful the abs or expert the hip roll.
There are myriad reasons names ebb and flow in popularity. In Freakonomics, Steven G. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner argue, quite successfully, that the popular names of the upper classes eventually end up being the popular names of the lower classes. Poorer parents aspire their children to greatness and wealth, and assign loftier handles to their brood (this one's going to be a doctor, she's gonna be president, he's NOT gonna hotwire cars like his father, Philbert, etc.).
If you want your offspring 'blessed' with an upper crust handle, Tatler recently recycled some old-timey baby name classics that were once the hallmarks of excellent breeding. You may want to name your daughter Vervain, Xanthe, Monaveen or Gethsemane. You may proffer upon your baby boy the likes of Aubyn, Euripides, Ormerod or Titus. Other names like Quail, Uxorious, Wigbert, Yellow, Scar, Hum and Czar-Czar I'll leave for you to assign to either your daughter or son.
On that note, you may prefer non-binary names like Grey, Wren, Tea and Morgan. I'm super into those, but probably because I really wish my name was Grey. I could always change it. Legal name changes are more and more common. An option many are grateful for, especially celeb offspring. Plebs too. I'm reminded of those Quebec parents wanting to name their child Spatule, the french form of Spatula. The courts, thankfully, said non to that.
Do our names really matter? Well, a lot of research says yes. Names that are easy to pronounce garner you favour. Tom, Jack, Bob, Liz, Nia, Trent, Reginald, Willie. Pretty likeable. And common names get hired more. John and Jane Smith are both very employable (in North America, that is). Same holds true for "white-sounding" names. So, John and Jane Smith again. Ugh. A pretty unfortunate stat. Less common names are associated with juvenile delinquency. Zanzibar and Porphyria, for example, will likely get pegged as trouble makers. For better or worse, a name can be social currency.
Parents, choose wisely. As Jerry Seinfeld once offered, if you name your kid Jeeves, he pretty much has to be a butler.
One thing is certain, your name says much more about your parents than it does you. Their culture, social class, political alignment, books they loved, movies they're obsessed with — it all matters. The other day while grocery shopping, I heard the anxious voice of a father desperately trying to wrangle his two boys in the cereal aisle whisper-shout, "Christopher and Anakin! Get over here!" Fact. I take it mom or dad loves Star Wars and maybe travel? (St. Christopher is the Patron Saint of Travellers). Who knows? But, tell your kids to go easy on Crandle and Xenia in the school yard.
They didn't choose their monikers.
Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.